Do people ever belong?

I struggle with belonging. I have wanted to belong to something bigger than myself for the longest time. And every now and then, this belonging thing pops up- mostly when I feel like I don’t belong in a space that I really want to belong in.

In Abraham Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of human needs, belongingness and love needs are third after safety and physiological needs. By complete generalization, as a human race we have a need to belong. And maybe that is why we have such problems with race.Maslow's Hierarchy of needs

Any way.
The most vivid memory of “not-belongingness” in my childhood is my 13th birthday. I had never had a party or really hugely celebrated my birthday until that year. I was excited beyond words to have my friends over and have fun with them. I invited everyone from the afternoon school that I went to- the school where I learnt 2 languages: Gujarati and Hindi. In SBSM (the school) I was a grade higher than I was in the normal English government school. I always wanted to be a part of their community. I wanted to belong- to be one of them.

The day of my party- I sat calling all these friends… because no one came.

I believed with everything in me that my friends would come. It broke my heart. I felt like I was not part of their circle, like I was an outsider that no one really wanted there.

I have always wanted to belong to that community. It always looked like fun and friends and a place to connect. I may be a Gujarati like them, but I do not belong. I never have. And now I am married into a family that is much more a part of that community.

I used to think that I am not attached to this need to belong as much as I was at 13.

Turns out, I was wrong.

I have a deep need to belong to my husband’s family. It’s been 3 years since they know me.. and I do belong more than I used to.. but I don’t feel like I belong completely. There are instances when I feel like a complete outsider. There are instances when I feel like I am treated like a complete outsider… like I am not a part of their circle. And I stand staring into the hurt eyes of my 13 year old self again, wondering but why?

What would it take for me to feel accepted and wanted? What would it take for me to feel like I belong?

Sure, it’s only been 3 years, they don’t really know me, its early days yet, etc. etc. etc. I get all that. It’s all logical and makes total sense. They can’t just let me belong to them without even knowing me as well as they could. Sure.

It still feels like shit each time I am faced with this: “I don’t feel like I really belong”, “I feel like you don’t really want me here”, “Do you want me to butt out?”
One day…


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