Why we belong
I feel throughout my late teens and early twenties I was this young man trying to discover the world; reach out and grab hold of someone’s hand. Anyone’s. I was a young man in a strange land with no family and very little friends. I lacked that important connection; you know? The warmth of a loving family member or the kind touch of a parent. My Dad lived near but he was more like the estranged second cousin you visit only when you “reeeally” have to, and even then you bring a ton of books and magazines to help escape boredom.
I never really started to fully repair until I had a firm grounding, a belonging in this world. It didn’t come to me until I was around 27. All throughout school I hadn’t belonged, I flitted from one cliché to another; floating around like the lone wolf with no real purpose. It continued in early adulthood too; I stuck to people, people that showed me kindness in my hour of need, and at times those choices were probably not the best as I ended up in some pretty rough situations with the people that I chose to stick to.
It sort of clicked one day when I was arguing with my soon to be wife, we were arguing about something serious at the time. And as I was accustomed to by now, serious arguments equals end of relationship, or at least that’s how it was in my childhood. I desperately feared that my beautiful Natalie would up and leave, never to darken my doors again; but she didn’t. And from then on I learned the true meaning of belonging. Relationships aren’t just some airy fairy thing you can discard at the drop of a hat. You make an investment with someone and you watch your investment grow; as they do you.
The exact same can be said for friendships. People wonder how gangs and mobs are born, and how it attracts people from all over. How such criminal activity can be rife, yet so dangerous. Well it’s an issue of belonging. “Being in” the gang can be that you finally belong somewhere, have a following and similarly people that you would want to follow. And it stems from the simple fact that there is a lesser feeling of belonging at home. Perhaps there’s neglect or abuse, I couldn’t say. I’m not here to judge
It’s the exact same with football. Some people go to a football game and enjoy a good afternoon out with the family; others join a football gang and create havoc, fighting, smashing and kicking rival football teams. Why? Again it’s an issue of belonging. We all need to feel that we belong somewhere, even if it’s selling crack on street corners for the local street mob.
So why do we want to belong? What’s this whole belonging thing and how do I understand it? Well, think of when you were back at school. Perhaps one of the earliest memories of education you have will be hanging with your group of friends that have similar taste. Back in my day we hung in groups of intelligence and recreation. So the footballers would play football, the golfers chilled and talked about golf, the drug users and smokers were always in the toilets and the intelligent people laughed and talked about intelligent stuff. Think back! I’m sure you had a cliché.
We are human. We were born to survive in groups. Way back before the dawn of towns and villages when humans were basically cave dwellers we survived in extended familial units. The males would go out and hunt whereas the females would stay behind and gather fruits and make homely stuff; and thus is your early human community.
Community has way surpassed even the idea that we had back in the 80s. So belonging now is something hugely and entirely different. Human behaviour has never changed but the world around us is far more complex. Our parents have busy lives, sometimes we don’t see extended family for years on end. Issues of abuse and neglect have risen exponentially; drugs, alcohol, you name it. How do we compensate? We pick friends, we belong to a community of similar interests and we survive.
Hope this was a good un’
Thanks for taking the time to read!