What does it mean to belong?

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald). My name is Alex Smith and I am here to answer one important question: What does it mean to belong? Now belonging is not only a basic need for humans and a motive for basic behavior, but it takes on heightened importance, in certain context, and certain times for certain people in certain situations. Some people feel that they must talk and act a certain way, wear certain things just to belong. However, that is not the case since your differences should be celebrated as they enrich our educational context. Also, do not assume that you need to be in a certain group like a group of people with a higher education to belong. However, there are certain connections you can make at a higher education, but it is just the same as the connections you can make without it. You will find your own community that appreciates you for who you are.

I believe that it is now time to tell you all a personal story of mine. When I was still in high school and it was summer vacation, my parents wanted me to do a college program for high school students. Basically, it was a group of students will go to Armstrong State University for a few days to talk about college and do fun activities. At first, I did not want to be there as the day went by. The roommate I had did not talk to me at all, and I was mostly somewhere by myself. I felt like that I did not belong there and I just should call my parents to take me back home. However, after a day, everything changed since more people were talking to me and I even made a good friend that I could talk to at any time. Unfortunately, that friend had to move and I never saw him again after the whole thing was over. Now that I am in college, it feels much harder to find a group to belong than the experience on summer vacation. My message to you guys is to never give up, and you will soon find people that you belong with.

While finding a group that you belong may seem difficult, it might be very easy to do on other occasions. For example, I found some of my good friends by just talking to them. Additionally, by joining groups and clubs, you will be giving yourself an increased chance to find places where you belong. Even if you cannot go to a meeting or practice due to time management, that most likely will not do anything to affect your relationship with the groups. However, like mentioned before, being in college is a huge step for trying to belong. Since almost all my high school friends are going to other colleges, I now must find new groups that I belong with. That is my responsibility to do so myself since none of my family are there to tell me where I should go. This helps me become independent, giving me more confidence than I ever thought I had.

Belonging is not only a basic need and a motive for humans, but it takes on heightened importance, in certain context, and certain times for certain people in different situations. Differences should not be tallied as deficiencies; they should be celebrated as actual contributions to our community. We are all in one, big community and should appreciate every unique person in open arms. That way we can interact with people of other cultures easier than what the current methods are. Additionally, it is never too late to find out where you belong. Do not feel like you should be isolated; no matter what, you should know that you do belong. Many people do things just to belong from making a school-gang structure to just doing anything they can. In conclusion, belonging is something we all believe we need; it is a basic human need. Just remember one thing: “We all wanna belong, yeah.” (Terrell Strayhorn, TEDx)

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