The Importance of Belonging

Belonging in the modern age means more than simply “fitting in;” it is a psychological status in which the individual feels at home in an environment that does not necessarily belong to them. Therefore, it is no surprise that many individuals of the modern age encounter a crisis when they feel they do not belong. This occurs in three distinct ways:

  1. The Intrapersonal Relationship

The intrapersonal relationship deals with the connection to the self, in which the individual must connect with their own thoughts, beliefs, and ideals in an honest and vulnerable way, often encountering parts of themselves they find unappealing. However, this is a call not to shy away from the parts of the self that require some housework; rather, it is a call toward self-improvement. Each person must consciously improve their relationship with themselves in order to move on to the next level of intimacy:

2. The Interpersonal Relationship

The interpersonal relationship involves one other person, who must find a connection with the individual at hand. This will often lead to one of two extremes: love or conflict. In love, the individuals involved believe they have entered a state of mutual understanding, in which the other not only acknowledges their ideals, but admires them. In conflict, however, the individuals involved have encountered a more messy and hasty relationship, which has led to the formation of a crisis. In order to move past this crisis of interpersonal interaction, the individuals must learn a careful and precise art: compassion. Compassion allows the two people to reason with themselves and their counterpart, resolving disagreements and forming the basis of a strong sense of trust. Once this art is mastered, the two individuals are prepared for the next step in human interaction:

3. Small Group Relationships

The gathering of the small group provides the foundation for any society. This small societal setting forms an environment in which many crises are encountered, not only among the self, but among others and among everyone else involved. Such crises create a chaotic society, in which the idea of belonging becomes far more relevant than ever before. With the creation of society comes the prevalence of status, an invention that has served to create numerous crises among nearly every individual involved. Those uncomfortable with their status in such a situation feel attacked, and often othered, by their fellow status-holders. Yet among this sentiment of not belonging in the grand scheme of the social setting, many find comfort in the formation of their own sub-setting; a place in which their minority (which does not belong) can exist separately and happily. Thus, the sense of belonging is restored, as diversity is born.

Belonging, not only to the self but to others, has allowed the formation of nearly every relationship in history. The idea of the soulmate has gained a following due to the desire to belong in the setting of love relationships. Belonging as an emotion encourages the growth of love and beauty in societies and homes as the individual begins to appreciate its importance, often upon coming home after a bout of distance. It is through this appreciation and balance of distance and closeness that the importance of belonging is ratified; it is only through this rebirth that we can hope for future relationships, and maybe even love.