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Thread: Belonging

  1. #1
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Belonging

    have you ever been somewhere, or been with someone, and felt that you truly belonged? when and where? what was that like?

    is the sense of belonging something that you actively try to create in your life, or do you not think much about it?

    what is belonging to you? is it just a stupid concept? if yes, why do we want it so bad?

  2. #2
    creator kali's Avatar
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    It's kind of weird but being at the midnight premiere of the last harry potter movie was the only time I've ever felt any sense of belonging in a crowd. cos im in the generation that grew up alongside the harry potter characters. Also the cinema was packed with really cute indie nerdy introverts.

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    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    sorry about asking this really basic shit. i'm just thinking about this cuz nobody's ever asked me this in my entire life. i feel like my whole life i've been trying to get away from people and not belong, and i also hate the idea of "belonging" to someone in a romantic sense, so idek how to approach this. if i were to define the feeling though i'd say it's the sense of being truly accepted. a lot of my natural bonding behaviors are maybe not actively interactive, like i just want another person to be there while i go about being alone. it's like how chickens bond, by gathering together to preen and just sit around. btw, when chickens gather around me and do that, i feel like i belong.

    i've had that feeling when i spend time with people i'm really, really comfortable with. like i met a girl in montreal and she helped me get over a breakup by just talking to me, walking around the city with me and then letting me sit in her apartment/room and spill my guts. that was really cool and it broke my heart in a good way that i had to leave, but i left feeling like human connection was possible, and that with the right people it'll be easy. it turns out that was a sign cuz i met my bf about a week later, and we connected (and fell really hard for each other) really fast.

    idk, maybe i'll have more to say about this later.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Odd as it is to say, the most sense of belonging I've felt had to come from living in a startup co-op with no pre-existing culture or traditions. Of course, some of the residents were from other co-ops, so they tried to bring along older rules and traditions, but there was more than enough room to exert my own influence.

    And by "more than enough room", I mean it literally. There was a wide open auditorium that I quickly took over, turning a corner of it into my own home gym/art studio/lounge space. I instituted weekly (sometimes daily) screenings of movies (and GoT) on a high-def projector in the library.

    My actions led to conflict with some other residents, but enough people supported and encouraged me that I was allowed to continue. I made a handful of great friends - the kind that write snailmail and take the time to fly across the country and visit. Getting all of us together on a road trip was a great experience.

    Yeah, I guess that, to me, a sense of belonging can be engendered by simply having the freedom, space, and time to do your own thing. And, like I said, space can mean physical space. I never realized how important it was until I had a lot of it and realized all of the possibilities - room to do things and better understand what kind of person I can be for other people.

  5. #5
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jigglypuff View Post
    have you ever been somewhere, or been with someone, and felt that you truly belonged? when and where? what was that like?
    In a dream. I saw my friend who I had known for many years, and there was a white light shining on his back. I hugged him, and when I did, I felt like I was home for the first time in my life, like I had never felt that before. I woke up from the nap feeling very agitated and not being able to breathe, the sky had turned black with storm clouds. I went out to the park like I had to get out, it began to pour down really hard and I stood at the edge of an amphitheater and watched the rainwater gather at the bottom. I stood there for a long time because I couldn't walk anymore. It was like a revelation to me but it was too late.

    I've never belonged anywhere, and actually I was even born in a place where I didn't belong, in exile. So "belonging" is something I don't think I'll ever feel on a collective level, maybe just with some individuals. Even with my old party, I never thought I was like them.

    is the sense of belonging something that you actively try to create in your life, or do you not think much about it?
    I actively try to find like-minded groups and individuals, but it isn't for myself. It's usually with some aim in mind. Belonging is being around people for whom you're not just an absurd enigma, people for whom you're not just a shadow. It's possible, but I see it as difficult.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

  6. #6
    fluff2fluff GnarlFox's Avatar
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    I feel like a transient in both how people see me and how I view myself. There be no shelter here.
    The idea that there is more is essential to our humanity.

  7. #7
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    @Madrigal
    it's funny you say you felt it in a dream. for me the feeling is so elusive. just by mentioning that i felt it with someone i'll probably never see again, i feel like it's gone forever.

    i wonder if it's something i take for granted and don't notice, like it's something i'm only aware of when i'm actively searching for it yet dealing with some event that's left me traumatized and wounded (and vulnerable). is it a state that exists independent of me? in any case i'm trying to become more aware of it now cuz i feel it'll make me more open.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Makers!*'s Avatar
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    Periodically, I'd feel it in the military, but my unit was really competitive. The guys in my rank were constantly trying to outpace each other. And our leadership beat us into line day in and out. We had to speak to them with out hands behind our back and refer to them by their rank before each statement or request. ex. "Yes, specialist." or "Sergeant, I need some ammo." Mutual suffering and initiation rights bound us together. On a helicopter before a mission for instance, you could look from one guy to the next, and there was a pervasive sense of unity.

    The most belonging I felt was on a conservation trail crew. Three guys; one girl. I felt like it could have been anyone. In the woods, a person's true nature comes out. And so long as that person can carry their own weight, I found he or she is normally good company. We smoked spliffs, worked hard, and drank hard with the money we saved over our 10 day excursions. It was great living.

  9. #9
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    I think you want it because you're a member of a species that has evolved complex social behavior as a survival/success-maximizing adaptation--you trade some loyalty and altruistic behavior for the same things in return, but of course you have to be accepted within a group for that to happen. Not having a group to belong to runs against your genetically conditioned instincts, so to some extent it will make anyone feel some amount of anxiety and despair.

    I've felt a lot of alienation in my life, but I've felt like I "belonged" in plenty of places/groups too--sometimes it's very temporary.

    One of very (maybe the only) institutions I've ever felt a strong sense of personal identification with was the college I went to for my Bachelor's degree. It's a small private school, and the process of applying/enrolling there features (or did when I went, anyway) a whole lot of briefing on the school's educational ethos or philosophy, which is ostensibly somewhat unorthodox. I spend plenty of time thinking it's all very pretentious and hypocritical, but then I do recall having to pick from a couple of different colleges and that one somehow "just felt right" in an ineffable way. I'm also prone to stick up for it if others (particularly people who aren't extensively familiar with it) start in on calling it pretentious/hypocritical/etc.

    It's hard to explain, but more or less it's a school founded on principles like the idea that a student should be motivated to work his/her ass off purely for the sake of developing a stronger and more refined intellectual understanding of the world, the mark of a truly discerning intellect is an ability and willingness to provide thoroughly reasoned defenses of the things that one believes in against concerted, vehement criticism, and that any idea you can't or won't provide a thoroughly reasoned defense of against a concerted, vehement attack from any quarter is probably a bad idea that you should stop believing in.

    This of course is just the standard boilerplate rationale for a liberal-arts education, but somehow I was struck by the way that people (especially other students) really seemed to believe in it like some kind of religion. I was young and naive and all that (and I'd just spent 12 years in the public school system of a place where there are very strong anti-intellectual currents in the local culture, so the contrast was striking), but I fell hard for this mentality and still miss getting to be surrounded by people who were equally devoted to it. It seemed sort of comically cult-like at times, but a cult whose principle article of faith is "being smart is a worthwhile thing to do" is pretty much the only kind of cult I'd ever want to belong to.

    It's funny because that was also a really shit time of my life--the classes are infamously intense, the stress probably exacerbated the mental issues I brought along with me, and frankly the way that students and even faculty venerate a masochistic approach where you sacrifice health and balance in your life to live up to this archetype of a nobly tortured intellectual is more than a little perverse. By the time I was done, I had a major drug problem and had spent many a night contemplating suicide, but then sometimes I think it gave me something to believe in that stopped me from actually killing myself. "No, I have to do this thing; I have to get this degree, not for my future but just because I have a chance to do something that's really worth doing for the first time in my life, and it would be pathetic to abandon the effort before I'm finished--so I'll finish my degree, and then kill myself, just so nobody can say I couldn't do it."

    It all sounds very stupid in retrospect, but there's some chance that without that sense of purpose to cling to as a sort of existential lifeline, I might have decided to stop perpetuating my existence before the desire to end it had worn off. So subjectively, from within the truncated perspective of my little self-imposed personal hell, it was a very big deal.

    Of course I was hanging out with people who were mostly about as fucked up as I was (maybe not quite so bad), so when I do hang out and catch up with old friends from that time in my life I do get some of that sense of "being home"--like we know things about each other that we wouldn't tell anyone else because we went through this intense experience together and we share a kind of pride that outsiders wouldn't even understand. (From another perspective, maybe it's just "trauma bonding".) I do still tend to feel closer to those people than to most of my other friends.

    I never got around to getting the tattoo--I joked a lot about having the college's mascot/logo tattooed on my ass after I finished all my senior classes, but I was actually kind of half-serious about it. The context with that is that I'm not a tattoo person (I still don't have any at all), and I've never really been a "joiner" (Iparticipate in groups of various kinds, but I never really invest my sense of identity in them), so permanently branding myself as an affiliate of a corporate entity would be a highly unusual symbolic decision--for whatever reason, I often feel like this one organization and my relationship to it might deserve that, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

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    Last edited by uselessbum; 09-06-2015 at 04:38 PM.

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