I often connect my self-worth with being accepted by others. I have had experiences in the recent past where I am around a lot of amazingly talented, kind and wonderful people. When I need help they were there to lend an arm or to help me when my hips froze up and I needed help getting up from my chair. They were there to help me. Socially, it was a different story.

I didn’t fit in with them in many ways, and my health kept me from interacting with them during social activities. So, though I was around a lot of wonderful people, I felt alone. There was a time in my life when I would have done anything to fit in with the people around me. When I was young I would change my taste in music or suddenly be interested in things that I had marginally liked in the past. All of this done so that I could feel like I was a part of something. That I had a people who were my people.

I did not feel like I belonged in my family growing up. I was, and am, very different in a lot of ways from my siblings. Because of that I was always searching for a place to belong. I would settle for fitting in with people, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to be a part of something. I wanted to belong. I feel that way now when I am around all these amazing people. I am there with them, but I don’t feel like I belong

I try to belong, I feel a deep need to belong. And if you have ever been around someone who has such a deep need you know how hard it is to be with them. Because you know that you can’t fill that need. Thus, making the need counterproductive to your desire.

This is going to be my last time that I will spend time with these people. I will spend eight days learning, developing, and setting up my semester of study. It has been difficult going to these residencies at school because being there creates intense loneliness. And the thought of going back has created a lot of stress and anxiety attacks. This time, however, I have a plan.

I have gone into this situation with a great desire for conversation and to get to know people. This, of course, goes back to the high need part of the story. This time I am going with the sole intent of learning and getting as much as I can out of my time there – keeping in mind my physical limitations. The big plan is to bring my own friend to dinner. I will bring my current book.

This may sound counterproductive. How am I going to meet people if I have my nose in a book? However, I have vast experience with books brought to meals. If I were to just sit down and wait for someone to sit near me and talk to me I could wait forever. But, if I sit down and start to read, nine times out of ten, someone will come up and start to talk to me. That’s how I met my husband. I was reading and trying to avoid conversation and he sat down and started talking to me. He said it was because I looked interesting.

Will this help me stave off loneliness while I am there? Probably not. I am also going to try to not hide in my room except for naps. I want to get the most I can out of what little I have left. My intense need to belong has been lifelong. I have found “belonging” in the family I created with my husband. The realization that this was what was one of the foremost problems I was having came to me a long time ago. I just never stopped long enough to realize that the problem was solvable in some ways. Being lonely in a crowd is something that has always been with me. This time I am going into the residency with an open heart to whatever happens and find my connections and belonging in other places.

5 thoughts on “Belonging

  1. Team Leslie!!! It may or may not surprise you that I have always loved to belong as well. I never have but I have made some connections so that’s a step. You’re going into this just right, I think. An open heart and mind is never the wrong answer. I love you more than tongue can tell!!!

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