Do You Belong?


Hi everyone,

Let’s talk about the sense of belonging today.

We naturally want to belong to a place or person. We want to be part of a community. We therefore value family and we tend to prioritize them. Family partially gives us our personality. Then, we also belong to a group of friends and colleagues, a class, a neighborhood, a religious group etc., which gives us the opportunity to work on that personality. We belong to a region and a country, which gives us our nationality. Then, we belong to the humankind, which unites all humans. Then, we belong the earth, which unites all beings on earth.

Belongingness gives us everything we have and unites us with other things around us. No wonder it is such an important concept on human well-being.

But then, belonging too much to people or things is notoriously bad for our human well-being. Namely, belonging to the level of extreme attachment. Times when we can’t make our decisions where we should and expect others to help us out. Times when we don’t do our duties and expect others to do them. Times when the sense of belongingness prevents us from improving as a person.

That comes when we forget our individuality. We all are intersections of different groups. No two people have the exact same family, friends, colleagues etc. Therefore, none of us is the same and so we need to find where our differentiation lies.

There is also a problem with the other end. We are not more isolated than ever, leaving our sense of belongingness unsatisfied after all. This is a huge problem for humanity as well.

As with everything, middle ground seems to be the perfect option. But again as with everything, finding the middle ground is hard.

What do you think about the importance of belongingness in life? Do you try to balance your sense of belonging and your sense of individuality? If so, what methods do you use? Let’s discuss.


49 thoughts on “Do You Belong?

  1. One of the things that drove/drives my anxiety and thus my eating disorder is the extreme sense of disconnection. That I don’t belong, that I am out on the fringe. I think feeling separate from the group, even if it’s perception and the group doesn’t see you as “other”, is difficult and harmful and can have negative personal and societal consequences. Unfortunately, the need to belong leads people to connect for the wrong reasons or behind dangerous philosophies, at times.

    1. I experienced similar things too and I know how bad isolation feels. But it was a learning process. I learnt a lot during the process, which I hope will make my need for belonging more balanced.

  2. Once again, you bring up such an interesting topic. As a school teacher, I am constantly in a state of interacting relationships and a sense of belonging. My career and my family keep me very connected. Sometimes too much connection!! Lol. For me, I search out times to set quietly by myself and recharge. These are the times that I write or take pictures. I basically build up my individual self by creating. :). This seems to give me more balance.

  3. What happens when someone loses their family, friends, job and colleagues? What happens to this same person when they have limited ties with their neighbors and no real connection with their community because they never established one? What if they had kept their religion on the proverbial back burner naively thinking it would be always be “good to go.”

    What if I was to tell you this is happening all too frequently right now all over the world. No one really thinks much of it.

    There is literally disconnect where people are sitting in homes isolated and dejected. There is figurative disconnect where people are sitting in homes isolated and dejected.

    It’s all to the same end.

    Another thought provoking post.

    1. And another thought-provoking comment. There is a substantial change right now and we will see where it will end. It is definitely different from most human experience before.

    2. thank you so very much for touching on this issue. living with chronic illnesses, it can be a very disconnected feeling. you don’t feel well enough to get out and make the connections and even if you could, most of us find very few friends who want to remain connected.

  4. Personally, I get weird: belong to a group, and I start to strain for independence; too much alone time, and I yearn to run with a pack. No sense. The balance is hard.

      1. Yes, life comes in waves for many things, including social opportunity, so the balance is almost impossible. Trying not to be a needy introvert 🙂

  5. My sense of belonging is primarily to my family, then friends. I was always fascinated by communitarianism, as a strand of thought in philosophy, which emphasizes that one must belong to different communities to have an ethical sense, to belong, of course, but to be a part of something greater as well, to be a part of a certain tradition. Unfortunately, a sense of belonging to some larger groups and communities is not that much of a possibility for me, for personal reasons. I adopted a radically individualist stance as a consequence and maybe it was the other way around. I am not sure, I tend to care deeply about my individuality, my own sense of self and authenticity and I find it hard to want to belong to something larger which more often than not, aggressively tries to suppress your own way of life and beliefs. Thanks for opening this important question up!

      1. Well, as most people, I have family and friends, as was stated. They provide me with emotional support and are someone to share ideas with, have affection for and everything else. The only, difference, let’s say, is that I don’t feel, and don’t want to feel as a part of a greater whole, tradition, i.e. community, in a more stronger sense than it is usually seen, in Rawls’ work let’s say. For him community is simply an impersonal “society” where various exchanges occur (of course I am a part of it, understood in this sense, since I am taking part in the symbolic, financial exchanges etc.)

        Japanese New Wave director Nagisa Oshima referenced to Japan as “that nation”, not “our nation” as 99% of the Japanese. It’s not a choice, it’s just that I don’t feel, and don’t have a particular need to, feel connected to someone (an average member of my nation for instance), whose ideas and way of living are so much different than mine. The “only” connection is that we speak the same language. And this is an interesting position since you can observe your nation more impartially, like Oshima did. This may be puzzling to you, a bit, since we come, as I see, from different cultures and terms “nation”, “society”, “community” are understood a bit differently. I will always be a part of my nation (it is a matter of birth here, you are born into a nation and it’s tough to get a “full membership) but I simply don’t have the need to “belong” to
        that particular community in a stronger sense of the word. I am on my own, and that can be liberating. Maybe, an American, for instance feels similarly, but can still have strong patriotic feelings. Here (South Eastern Europe), it’s a bit different.

      2. Interesting points! Maybe for some people like you, there is a difference with family and nation. I don’t know if I could call myself a patriotic person, but living abroad for some years, away from the culture I grew up in, brought the sense to me that I really actually belong to that group. I mean, my personality was shaped there, so it makes sense. I need to think about whether this is belonging or just habit, though.

      3. These kind of feelings of stronger belonging are “triggered” almost in anyone if one goes abroad as you say, it would happen to me as well. Or if some serious existential danger to the nation is perceived, territorial integrity is questioned etc. (this happened to me). But when things go on as “normal”, you can feel in the way I described and still be functioning as any other person. You should check out “Boy” and “Koshikei”. In these films, the use of the Japanese flag and a reference to the nation as “an abstraction” shows this kind of stance in an interesting way. Oshima was concerned about the position of Korean minority etc.

  6. I’ve recently been toying with how we value ourselves and each other – mostly how it’s often a case of value by comparison.
    What you ask about needing to belong made me think about how we often allow people into groups by percieved value or need to belong to group due to the perception of the value it gives us.
    I often find myself trying to gain belonging and the sense of approval it gives when I feel low or weak inside. Where as when I’m not feeling low I just am and any belonging happens along the way ( if that makes sense ).
    May I put link to this post in mine when I finish writing it?

    1. Yes you can! Categorizing is something our minds do all the time and it uses certain things to categorize people as well. Race, religion, nationality etc. I don’t think it is bad in its core but it can be used badly. And it does make sense how belonging happens for you! I also actively seek belongingness when I am low and it just happens when I am not.

  7. When I had started to learn English one of the first essays/writing I had learned was : My Best Friend; and it began with – Man is a social animal. We need family and we need a few good friends but we shouldn’t be desperate in belonging to groups or persons. And we must learn first to love ourselves more 😊💖🤗

  8. I’ve struggled with the balance between belonging and individuality my entire life. Either I lose myself to a hive mind or I might as well be living on the moon…very frustrating. I’m always wondering “how much should I change myself for the world, and how much should I change the world for me?”

  9. We need social relations…there’s no doubt. But we must take care of toxic relationships..We should keep some boundaries and for that we have to learn to be alone. Go where you are valued, we don’t have to beg love.. I guess.

    1. Yes! I just find it difficult to determine what those boundaries are at some points, though. Sometimes, I draw them wrong and I lose the balance. But I learn from these experiences.

  10. Great post, Betul. Belonging is an important topic, and an important state of being. I think it’s also an ever-changing experience. Sometimes the people or values we feel we belong “to” change. I think constant self-reflection helps us discern where and how we fit best in our world.🕊

  11. Never had much of a sense of belonging. That does leave you lonely. But then I married and that gave me family.

    The counterpoint to “I belong” is not “I don’t belong.” It is “You do not belong.”

    That is the cause of almost all of humanity’s ills.

  12. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for your message! I want to express my sense of belonging. I find my belonging in my relationship with God. I feel that everyone should do the same. I am not trying to sell some crazy evangelization tactic to you or anyone else, but as a Catholic person, I totally believe that the most happy I have ever been with my sense of fitting in is when I am within a deep presence of God.
    Check out the rest of my blog posts to find out what I have to say about finding peace in Christ’s love. God bless and remember to live en via Christum!

    1. Hi! Thank you for sharing your view. I agree that relationship with God is a very important part of belonging. I am a Muslim and I value my relationship with God as well! I will check your posts!

  13. As has often been noted by many, we are living in are era of political tribalism. Unfortunately, this has lead to an us-versus-them way of thinking, which is destructive. When a person’s attachment to tribe overrules a sense of the common good, there’s a big problem. I also think that there’s a fine line separating patriotism from nationalism. You’ve chosen an interesting topic here. I agree with what you’re saying about moderation. Very strong attachments to group can cause a kind of tearing of the social fabric. Thanks, Betul, for a thought-provoking piece.

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