The Need For Identity And To Belong

I remember as a kid, passing by veterans who lived in my town, & seeing them wearing their hats (like the ones in the bottom left), so proudly.


When I ask my parents what the hats were for, they explained to me that they were “badges of honor” representing wars these men & women had fought in, for our country. I always had a desire to talk to them…to find out more about these wars & to hear their stories, but I never felt right asking. I felt in a sense – out of the club. I was a little kid…I hadn’t fought in war myself. I didn’t have a hat.


When I began working in sports & doing sales training, we would split targeted fan prospects up into groups, to make sure we were strategically asking the right questions, to find out their needs we could fulfill by setting them up with ticket or sponsorship packages.  One such “group” we called “Fansters.”  These were the folks who needed every single team giveaway item passed out at games. They dressed in team colored pants, always wore their jerseys, often painted their faces, & never missed a player/alum meet & greet.


The examples in our society are many – some of these pictures display them- ppl in like groups based on similar interests, hanging out with one another: The Burners, Rockers, CEOs, Fraternity Brothers, Car Enthusiasts.


But take our connections to these groups a step further: why do ppl get tattoos of their favorite teams? Why do those vets keep wearing those hats? Why do retired CEOs still spend thousands on cuff links? Why do fraternity brothers get Greek letters branded into their arms?


As humans we have the fundamental needs: to 1) have an identity, & 2) belong to something bigger than just ourselves. Not saying 1 & 2 are equal for everyone. But those two needs are pretty central parts of our existence. 1) could be as simple as being an accountant, 2) could be as simple as a member of a small immediate family.


Take transition periods like graduations or retirements – they are hard bc we often lose our identity & even our connection to our group.


On the one hand, the pride showed in the examples mentioned above – show a beautiful connection amongst ppl…similar passions/similar experiences. On the other hand, there is a part of it that saddens me: that our connections often silo us, & even that “who” we are is keeps us from getting to know more amazing people out there & being able to better help one another.


I’ve seen it on this very platform in the comments section: two ppl who live on opposite ends of the world, different ages, different jobs, different socioeconomic backgrounds – BOND over commonalities in their experiences. If you wonder why I’m so passionate about #SameHere – it’s for that exact reason.


We may all have different passions (& that won’t change), we may all have different MOs’s (& that won’t change), we may even all have different upbringings (again something that won’t change), but there is ONE common thread that ties ALLe humans on this earth together – & that’s the fact that we ALL face challenges. Loss of loved ones, sicknesses, breakups, job losses, bullying – you name it. But the amazing things is – the way these things make us FEEL, even if the experiences are somewhat different, tend to be similar. Emotional pain comes in many similar forms.


My hope in continuing to grow this message is exactly what my friends Brian Bolten said the first time I told him the concept: “It’s like you’ve created a tribe that everyone in the world is a member of, they just don’t all know it yet.” If we truly believe that – our connections can cross all the lines in the pictures above, then no matter who we are, where we are from, or what we have been given – #SameHere, we will all have an identity & all have a group, bigger than just ourselves, that we can ALL feel a part of.


In an age when the feeling of isolation & lack of hope is leading to record numbers of suicides, isn’t the above connection important?


Back to the beginning, I want to be friends w those vets with the hats & hopefully once we share our stories, they want to be friends w me as well.











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