It’s now January 1st, 2018 and like many others this time of year, I’m recollecting the events of the past 365 days and wondering what 2018 will have in store for me. I do have some things I want to try and accomplish but above all else, I continue to struggle with my sense of belonging.
Before I elaborate on that, let me clarify something. I’m a decent guy, with a great family, a great stable job, a few close friends, and have had a lot of great opportunities come into my life. I am very thankful for everything that I have and everything that I will ever have come into my life. But even with all of that, I still find myself lacking one thing that many people search for: a sense of belonging.
For a very long time I have always wanted to be a part of something special. Something beyond the typical day to day things we all experience. Friends and family are great to have but I am talking about something beyond that. Something that helps you feel connected to others outside of your immediate circle of home life. For some people, church fills this gap. The sense of feeling connected to your community through faith allows them to feel a sense of belonging. Others may find this through social groups that they are a part of whether it be a common love of a sports team, or other hobby. Some might even find this through their employment as they find themselves bonding with colleagues and feeling a sense of comradery among their piers.
This sense of belonging is something I have found myself seeking for a very long time. The last time I think I felt a true sense of being part of something special like that was back in the mid-90’s. It was a time when I had many friends around, was actively involved in the music scene, and had very little responsibility beyond my own wants.
But these days, that sense of belonging has been missing for a long time.
I’m an avid TV watcher and sometime last year I realized I was drawn to certain types of shows. Friends, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Scorpion, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Bones, and even the likes of The Flash & Supergirl. Some of these are comedies, and others are sci-fi or even drama but they all share one common theme: they feature ensemble casts. Recently I have been re-watching episodes of Scorpion and I found myself wishing I had something like that team to be a part of. In all of these shows, there’s a core group where everyone has a place and shares a common bond. In Scorpion, I may find myself shaking my head at some of the ridiculous plots they have, but I’m drawn to the characters because again, it’s a small group of people that feel like they belong together.
It is this sense of belonging I have been searching for as long as I can remember. A few years ago I joined a Freemason lodge in hopes that it would help me to feel like I was a part of something bigger. Instead, it’s actually made me feel even more isolated than I was before. I’ve met some really great people but again for me, I still feel like I am on the outside looking inwards. Geocaching was such a huge part of my life for awhile that I thought maybe that was a place I could get this sense of belonging from. But I have found myself less interested in it than I was a few years ago. I don’t have the passion for it like I did at one time.
I struggle greatly to feel that sense of belonging in my work. I am a part of a great team but a team that is separated by literally thousands of kilometers. Although I enjoy my work immensely (when I am teaching) I still feel like something is missing and I continue to search for it every day.
Unlike my younger days, I don’t spend a lot of time with friends. In fact, the few friends I do have these days I see very little of. Once in awhile I will get a chance to be out with a few of them and I greatly enjoy my time with them, but yet again, in some ways it feels like I am on the outside. Between my work, my kids and family, and traveling for my job from time to time, I don’t have a lot of time in between and when I do, it’s typically for family.
The logical part of me says that perhaps my inability to find this belonging I am looking for is simply because I am not trying hard enough. But then there’s this other part, my gut, that just tells me that “this is not it”. There’s something else that is out there and I just need to find it and when I do, that sense of belonging will surface and I’ll finally feel like I’m where I should be.
So for 2018, I’m setting a couple of goals that I want to accomplish and one of them is to continue to search for that which has escaped my clutches for so long. Maybe this will be the year I find it.