I read this post on FB from a young woman that I know and it spiraled me back into my past and also prompted a lot of thinking. "I don't belong." I grew up in a small town that almost everyone was of the same faith. My dad had chosen to not follow the teachings that he grew up with and so did not participate. My mom did what she could to encourage us to go to church and participate. We knew that we were different. I struggled and longed to "belong." I was so lucky to have a friend I met at a very young age that also had those same struggles. We clung to each other. I knew everybody and I felt I was very judged. I was told that I was not welcome at some of my friends home. I was accused of smoking and told I should be ashamed of myself. (my dad smoked and the odor would linger on our clothes.) Some of my group of teenage friends were not allowed to sleep over at my house when we had our "old maid" parties. (when we didn't have a date to the school dances.) It was always in the back of my mind, "I'm different, I don't belong." I like to think it made me more open and accepting to others. I think not belonging made me stronger and better. I don't want to belong if it means leaving others out because they are "not like" me. I also thought about this young woman. I have know her since she was a little girl. Not closely but have know of her and a few of the things she has be through in her life. When we reconnected I was so thrilled at what a sweet and amazing young woman she has become. I have also had contact with another young woman who is struggling with her own, "I don't belong." I watch her trying so hard to please others and gain their acceptance and love. She so wants to belong. She has made some choices that have impacted a lot of lives. Not just her own. I hope that someday she realizes that she is wonderful just the way she is. We all go through times in our lives where we feel we don't belong. How we handle it can make a big impact on our lives and the lives of others. I also thought of a friend that I met in rehab. (she has been on my mind a lot this week because my son bought her car from her and I have been driving it.) She was a strong amazing women. She struggled so much with belonging. She had lost so much with the choices she made but she was fighting back. I was able to spend quite a bit of time with her after we were both out. We would talk frequently and would go to lunch. She was happy. One day she called me and we talked for several hours. She told me that her life was finally what she had hoped for. She was in love and looking forward to moving and living her life. She was making a choice to live her life the way she wanted and not the way others had told her she should do to "belong." The next day she took her own life. Perhaps the pressure of "belonging," was to much I will never know.
I have realized that the things I wanted to belong to when I was younger are not important. I really don't care if someone likes me or not anymore. If I am judged by someone, "that is their problem." I think that not belonging has made me tough. I wish I had know what I know now about "belonging." As I watch these young women and see them struggle I wish I could somehow let them know for themselves that they belong. Choose the things that are important in life to belong to and let the rest go. We all belong.