For a long time, it was the norm to have only one job, one hometown, and one steady group of friends in a lifetime. Now, more and more people have multiple jobs, many cities they call home, and communities they belong to both near and far.
The next generation may be the most ethnically, racially, and cognitively diverse in history. Technology has made it possible to become a resident in a country you’ve never visited, find the answer to nearly every question on Google, and meet the love of your life from thousands of miles away.
There are millions of people who identify as global citizens first, national citizens second. I’m half-Japanese, half-Indian, born in Singapore, and have an American passport – and I don’t feel like I belong to any country in particular.
In some ways we’re becoming more globally-minded, interconnected, open.
But still, there’s staggering intolerance, violence, and racism.
Now, you can have over 50 jobs in a lifetime. Or more. Or less. You might have 5 or more clients at once. You can be an engineer by day and artist by night. The career model is changing.
Your identity is not your title or company. The extra space frees you to craft your identity around your passions and values.
Your choices are expanding for all that you can do – and be – in a lifetime.
Belonging is one of the core needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, following physiological and safety needs. It includes friendship, trust, and being part of a group.
In this fluid, transient, and interconnected world, we must rethink what it means to belong.
While traveling and working remotely, I’ve found amazing communities. I made great friends. We supported each other, and I laughed harder than I had in months. But each time I changed the city I called home, we went our separate ways. Without the container of proximity and shared experience, what is there to belong to now?
If an experience is fleeting or a relationship is short, does it have less significance? What if you got to know someone more deeply than some friends you’ve known for years?
Growing up, there were groups of friends I thought I belonged to at the time. I felt close to them because of proximity, convenience, and shared experiences. But then, I realized I never belonged in the way that matters most – around support and genuine love.
How do you create, and nurture, true belonging? Does it require physical proximity? Consistency of communication? Or less frequent, but meaningful exchanges of support and love? Can you belong to friends in heart and spirit, even though you may not talk as much as you used to?
I guess the definition doesn’t matter as much as how you feel.
When you truly connect with someone, the distance doesn’t matter. And it’s possible to connect deeply with a special soul in very little time.
A tight-knit community where you belong. Or a globe of communities and connections dispersed around the world. One is a kaleidoscope with brilliant colors concentrated and deep, and the other, an explosion of colors expanding with pockets of space in between.
Both are beautiful.
The second requires you to be still with yourself. You may spend more time alone. But alone is not the same as loneliness. It’s possible to be part of a group and still feel alone.
Belong to yourself first.
Create Home wherever you are.
Sit still by the ocean, completely alone. And you may realize you feel more loved and connected than ever before.
We don’t need to belong to one identity. When we belong to one race, one ideology, one religion, in a way that takes from the Other, that is not belonging.
When you remove the fears, you discover you’re already connected to everyone else. We’re all going through the same human experience.
Belonging is fluid. A mental state. A choice?
You may belong in some people’s hearts and have no awareness of it at all. Or hold people close in your heart without telling them so.
If someone belongs in your heart, let them know they have a home.
We belong to no one, and everyone, at once.
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