A sense of belonging

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A sense of belonging. I saw this article in Kinfolk magazine I brought sometime go- Volume 16, written by Peter Block supported with photographs by Nicole Franzen, ... It sparked something…

A sense of belonging? Do we ever feel like we belong?  Do we belong with our family’s, friends -who can become as close to us as our family’s, do we belong to a place? We certainly don’t belong to someone. So where do we find that sense of belonging?

The article addresses that times have changed and while belonging once meant we belonged to a small community, we now strive to be individual, independent and

“have adopted a certain “standard of living” - code phrase for consumption - as a goal in life”

I feel like I have gone through a lot of motions, never feeling like I quite belong in that moment or that whatever I am doing is not what I’m destined to do. Can you have a sense that you belong in this day and age?

As cringe as it sounds I feel like I most belong when I first wake up and my boyfriend wraps his arms and the duvet around me and we lye there for a few moments before I have to get up but is that just a moment that I feel content in? or is it because we are a team and both striving for the same things together.

I feel that’s where I belong but I also get this feeling when I go home to my parents, or laugh none stop with a group of friends. I get it when I bump in to someone I know in the street unexpectedly, or even when I met a stranger and we bond over something we both have in common.

Location. Do I belong in Stamford, where I am from? Not at the moment. Do I belong in Manchester? At the moment, but will it be forever? Near the seaside? I do feel most calm when I am near the sea and have always dreamt of being a stones throw away from a beach walk.

Before buying our first home in Manchester I felt nervous.

Did I want to make such a big commitment to one place? When you’re renting it doesn’t seem so serious, you can come and go as you please. If you decide you don’t like that city, you can up and leave. When we decided to spend the largest amount of money than we ever have done on anything before, it felt like a very big commitment to Manchester.

In the Kinfolk article it addresses that this is a modern belonging. Home ownership I guess, falls in to that “standard of living” quoted previously but surely with the new house, my new suburban area, I will be joining a local community and therefore will find a new sense of belonging as I support new local shops, do favours for neighbours, visit local sports groups and socialise with people I get to know in that area?

I think as Ive settled in more and more to Manchester and whist living in the city centre doesn’t have the most community feel, there is a huge sense of community in Manchester on the whole.

Community impact. The only thing I wish is that we would all, and I am guilty of this too, is to do more, as a community to help the homeless here, which is a huge issue in Manchester.

I can buy hats, scarfs, gloves, sleeping bags etc to give out but its such huge problem here that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The first line in the magazine article is

“ The most basic human needs for a healthy and happy life are food, water and shelter.”

But not everyone has that. The basic needs. How is society failing them?

I’m not sure that I can picture living anywhere else for now. When I visit London I always text saying “I LOVE IT HERE, LETS MOVE BACK!” but then realistically we wouldn’t have the lifestyle we have up here. Manchester has the most community feel about it then any other city I’ve lived in, maybe even more so then my home town. There is something about Mancunians which I can’t put my finger on, there is a huge feeling of togetherness, something I especially noticed on the weeks that followed that awful terrorist attack at the Arianna Grande concert. The way everyone came together filled me with huge pride to be a part of this city. The sea of flowers, messages, tributes, people coming together, the murals, the one life concert, the tattoos and the iconic Manchester bee which has been revived due to the way the city reacted to the horrific attack. On the night I remember so many people offering their homes to people stranded, taxis giving free lifts, the fanatics medics, football stadiums opening its doors as a safe place for casualties, everyone doing what they could to help in anyway. It was an incredible display of community. These words can’t quite paint the picture of what happened that night and what followed.

Friendships. I have several groups of different friendships and I have a different role in them all. Group dynamics can be difficult, especially when there are so many of you but I feel secure in the bonds we all have and a huge sense of belonging. In the article it says

“To belong is to know, even in the middle of the night I am among friends”

I feel I am among friends 24/7.

Its more when I meet new people now that I feel I hold back more, staying fairly quiet until I figure out how to fit in, I feel this becomes more difficult as you get older. I find people keep themselves to themselves or are on their phones chatting and texting away to their own already made “community” and missing out on new friendships which could be formed. A friend of mine recently had a crash on a busy junction in the middle of Norwich. One person stopped their car and got out to help her, one. One out of hundreds that drove past. Isn’t that just shocking! In this instance it worries me that people are too concerned about their own lives.

I remember talking to a grandma at a wedding I attended in the summer. She had recently moved out of a house where she had lived for her whole life to a new area to be closer to her family. She told me how she missed her old street, where she knew everyone and everyone checked in on her. She said in her new area the houses are so close together yet none of the neighbours talked to each other. She found it strange and looking back she must have lost her sense of belonging with the new move.

Tom tells me a story of when his dad and his friends came to visit him in the flat. His dads friend found it unbelievable that you can live in the same building as so many other people but not even know the people on the same floor as you, or even ever bump in to them.

If you think about it, it is really weird.

Belonging in the world. Its scary when you sit and think about just how many people there are in the world and you don’t even know people in your own building. You and your own world and what you surround yourself with is such a small part compared to everything out there. I feel I need to remember this more if I ever feel stressed or upset, over such small things.

“In the small group discussion, we discover that our own concerns are more universal than we imagined. this discovery that we’re not alone- that others can at least understand whats on our mind, if not, agree with us - is what created the feeling of belonging. When this occurs in the same place and time, in the presence of a larger community, the collective possibility begins to take form and have legs.”

Which in conclusion is why it is so important to talk, talk to people you meet and those around you, to bring you, and them a sense of belonging. I hope you have a sense of belonging, on any level in your life at the moment. I am convinced we are going back to a more communal feel with emphasis on supporting independent local stores, community groups, village halls etc. hopefully soon it will get to the point where neighbours will become friends again instead of strangers to be wary off.

This year I am going to make a conscious effort to be even more chatty. To chat to the people who serve me in shops, to the person who sits next to me on the tram, to my neighbours, and everyone around me instead of looking at my phone.