The Pacific Ocean is small compared to the size of what I don’t know.
However, what I do know is that belonging is about the most important thing for a human being. Little kids know it, and are completely unabashed about it; they totally know they need to be with people, be in a group, be together with others. As adults, we often try to be cool and not look like we need to belong. Yet we do.
How we do that belonging thing is by hanging out with like-minded, and in many cases, like-hearted people. Some people are born into a bunch of folks like that, and some people not, so then it’s our mission to find them. Like-minded is fairly easy: talking about ideas and politics and workplace issues is pretty safe, and there is a sense of belonging there, even if it is temporary.
Although it was always an undercurrent in me, I didn’t recognize the like-hearted part until I grew up. Like way up: age 50! Like-hearted is where the life is, where the soul is.
Belonging is telling and listening to stories. Stories are what make us human and show us how to make sense of the world. They remind us how others have walked these paths before us. Stories allow us to validate who we are by telling our anecdotes, triumphs, and not-so-much’s. The not-so-much’s were painful or embarrassing or sad but now that they’re past, they’re funny. And the source of our wisdom.
I’ve asked before, “Why do we come to an open mic like this?”
Yes, dreams are part of it. Being brave, trying something new, pushing our boundaries, perfecting our craft, getting some feedback, watching to see what happens next. There are as many reasons to be here as there are people in the seats.
Yet I’m tellin’ ya, it’s about belonging somewhere we value. Being validated. Being recognized.
And when that happens, having something inside me clink into place that says, “Oh yeah, I matter.”
(Photo by Mary Dessein)