What does it mean to belong? It’s a single word with huge significance. The feeling of belonging is a fundamental part of human nature, it’s about connectedness and acceptance. As human beings, we will go to great lengths to feel like we belong.
Whenever we start at new job or join a new community we often yearn for that sense of belonging. Many people feel strongly about belonging to the point where they will move to areas where they feel part of the community and be in search of others who make them feel accepted. It can be powerful when you find that place that makes you feel like you are part of something, and you are one of them. Personally, and professionally this feeling can have profound benefits to your overall well-being. When you feel like you belong somewhere you are most likely showing up as your authentic self. You don’t feel like you must hide parts of your personality to fit in, you are just naturally part of the team.
I have felt the angst of not feeling I belonged somewhere; there’s uneasiness, unrest, and even anxiety. I also know the feeling of belonging when I have it. It’s an ease with the people and culture around me. It’s knowing that I don’t have to censor any part of myself for acceptance. I reckon it’s even when people actively encourage me to be authentically myself. It’s a sense of hospitality and being welcomed somewhere and into something larger than yourself.
It’s the sense that those around you understand you, even if they disagree. It’s of freedom to simply be who I am, without exception or expectation. In a way, it’s where I feel secure, appreciated, and respected.
Whenever you’re around a new friend in your friend group, a new coworker at work, or a new neighbor on your block I encourage you to help them feel like they belong in this new place. You can help with this process by making sure you greet them kindly and warmly, ask them questions about their interests and hobbies, get to know them and be interested in learning more about who they are. Creating a safe space for someone will only make your interactions with them more authentic, you may even build a stronger sense of belonging for yourself along the way.