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Wikipedia describes “belongingness” as:

(belongingness)…is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or a sports team, humans have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves.

I’m watching “The Shunning,” based on Beverly Lewis’ really neat book I loved as a kid. In fact, I loved pretty much everything Lewis. From the time I was very little I can remember wanting to belong. As a victim of sexual abuse and later on in my teens, emotional abuse, I felt like an outsider for 95% of my life. I knew things nobody else knew, and I couldn’t tell them. I felt deep shame and embarrassment and it set me apart from society – from my family – and from my friends. I feel that this has followed me into adulthood. I am always on the fringe of my peer group – outside, looking in, waiting to be invited. Those of us with more courage and significantly less shame waltz right through the door without invitation and become functional members of society, while those of us withdrawn enough into ourselves to seem arrogant, conceited, or dumb (all things I’ve been called) are left to simply know how to proceed. 

I went to a summer camp when I was .. fifteen? I had been playing the fiddle for two years and I got the chance to attend the Randy Elmore Fiddle Camp (REFC). I was elated. The entire seven days of the camp was, for me, like living in heaven. Sure, there were cliques and I didn’t fit in everywhere, and my grandmother came with me which set me apart from a particular social standard, but I was a part of something. Something bigger than family, something bigger than my Latin class back at home. This was a mutual understanding that music drove us forward, broke us and healed us, pushed us into a more loving understanding of ourselves. 

Those summers as a teen, I frequented three camps. One was the John Birch Society Youth camp, one was the Texas Southern Gospel School of Music, and one was REFC. 

Belongingness.

Children get it when they merely get lonely in their rooms and come out to be in the presence of adults. They attempt to make conversation that is on our level. Why? Because they wish to belong. To fit in. To be seen in the same light as we see our peers.

Teens get this need for belonging when they attach themselves to a person of the opposite gender. Teen dating, I fully believe, has strong ties to them merely wanting that type of connection – the belonging to someone or someone belonging to you connection. 

Facebook successfully taps into the social need we all have to feel as though we belong. We tag each other, constantly post on each other’s walls, post pictures showing how much we belong, and chat all day long. It is a tying of ourselves to others that we crave, innately. 

Is this need to be a pawn in life’s chess game a bad thing? Does it hinder us? Does it help us? Is it good?

You tell me what you think!

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