A sense of belonging – to a group &/or something bigger than ourselves is core to our needs. Feelings of isolation are amongst the most difficult to manage.
There are many levels of this. It could simply be a feeling of connectivity to your fam. It could be to a group of friends. In many cases, it could even be to a group of “strangers,” but ones w which you share commonalities. Ever been to a sporting event & high-fived the “stranger” next to you bc your team scored a TD or hit a home run – you’re chasing a win & you feel “in it, together.”
You look at some of the biggest “brands” centered arnd individual personalities in this world, & their success is based on their cult followings that make misfits, feel like they fit (not so dissimilar to the post a few months ago abt Queen). Howard Stern fans have “The Stern Fan Network”…many relate to the “Whack Pack” mentality & scream out phrases like “Baba Booey, Hit Em W The Hein, or Hey Now.” Lady Gaga’s fans are “Little Monsters” who dress similarly at concerts & fit in w each other where they might not fit in elsewhere. Even in sports, Duke Blue Devils fans are called the “Cameron Crazies.” (That one’s not lost on me ;).
But here’s something abt my own experience, the concept of fitting in, & looking back, maybe why my experience has led me to this point. Going back to HS, I never had “one group” like the ones above, w which I identified. I played 4 sports in 3 seasons, so one might say – athlete/jock group (& don’t get me wrong, I loved my teammates), but I identified w the “geeky group” in AP classes, the band group where I played alto sax, the student council where I was a class officer.
To an outsider, I’d be considered the friendly guy who could get along w all groups. But to me it felt like I partially fit into each, but never fully in any one. It felt both comforting & lonely at the same time.
This continued in college – where even in my own fraternity, we had a large pledge class of great guys, but bc it was so large, there were definitely “clicks” & I was very close w each, but never fully IN any ONE. Can anyone relate to this? In some ways it’s awesome & special & provides you w a diverse group of friends & comrades…but in other ways it’s isolating & lonely bc you are never fully a 100% card carrying member of “THAT” group. The pic I shared is of a group of friends from kindergarten – & I’m happy to say the guy in the middle I have my hand on, (tho I must have gotten chocolate chip on my chin in that pic!), is still one of my best friends…he & are will always be our own group.
In looking back on the above…& in wanting to believe there is some master plan for each of us to find, maybe this is how I developed bc it gave me an appreciation for finding a way to build a tribe where everyone in the world can feel like they are a member & teammate. This whole concept of everyone facing challenges, all being in it together, not caring what someone’s background or ethnicity or geography is – but instead finding common ground around the “struggle” that then makes us stronger & gives us greater perspective – to me, that’s more comforting than any specific group I can think of.
And to those of you who have identified that you’re part of this group – I thank you for finally helping me form & find mine – one that everyone in this world is already a member of, they just don’t all know it yet.