A Sense of Belonging

A sense of belonging is a human need like the need for food and shelter. We all yearn to be accepted as a member or a part. The psychologists tell us that the worst fear of any child is being abandoned or rejected. A child would do anything to be loved and be part of things, to make others love and be proud of it. A child can only engage effectively in the world around it if he/she feels a part of this world.

We find this sense of belonging traditionally in the family, in friends, in the church or mosque and now in this Digital era; some find it on Social Media. As we grow older, we try to belong to something bigger than ourselves. This improves our motivation, health and happiness. We tend to focus on getting connected to people who are similar to us; enjoying what we love and having similar values. Maturity gives us the courage to be who we are – to see what we see, know what we know and act on that knowledge. When we act on what we know, we tend to find others like ourselves and then together we can begin creating new worlds where we are.

The Reunion that our Graduate Class organised last month where it all began forty years ago, helped me crystallise the value of a sense of belonging.
Among us were colleagues I last saw on graduation day but all along I have been looking for in my mind. The five years we spent close to one another in the Medical school of Makerere University and the shared experiences during the hostile political climate of the 70s, had bonded us and turned us into friends for life. Little wonder then that when we met last month, we just kicked off where we had left off. I was among the finest people I know. We had taken different journeys and had changed. We have transformed our lives and made contributions to changing others wherever we have worked. We consider ourselves wiser and less naïve. Each trusting herself/himself and others, we sat down and shared our lives and were able to learn from each other. It felt clear and right to celebrate the process we had gone through to become who we were more than the actual success or achievements.

Each one of us felt he/she was a member of the group and it helped us to see the value in life and come to terms with what we had gone through in the prime of our youth. A number of us agreed to write about their unique experiences to help the young ones now going through tough times. This can only happen when you feel that you belong as it frees you to engage freely in the world around you.

Celebrating the process of how each one had achieved her/his success opened us up to giving something back to the community that created us. We all felt we needed to pass on this positive tradition by simply trying to be mindful of the needs of the current students. We are developing a clear and achievable vision for our group and focusing on what we want to do together for the rest of our lives. We want to make the most of our group by helping to make the world a better place in our small ways.
All in all, we were proud of being a part of this group. It was worth spending the time together; we learned many lessons from each other, cemented an enriching relationship and had great fun.

Two relevant quotes have come to my mind:

“Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.’’ Brene Brown( an American scholar)

“We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.’’
William Glasser(1925-2013) an American psychiatrist.

Thank you very much for taking time to visit my Blog and to read this post. I would be grateful if you left a comment about it and shared it among your friends and family. May it inspire you to appreciate and value the different groups of which you are a member and to work through them to make the world a better place.


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