Have you ever felt left out? Like you didn’t belong? As though no one understands you and you can’t find your “people”? Yup. If you’re walking around in a meat suit known as a human body, you have experienced the pangs of not feeling the vibes with your tribe.
This is natural. We are creatures that want to belong. But just because we are born in to a certain family, or a community, or a culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean we feel like they “get” us.
As a teenager I felt really left out. I didn’t quite fit in with any particular crowd. People liked me but I always felt a sense that I didn’t belong. I didn’t fit in at school…I didn’t fit in at home.
You see, I was the last child born to my overwhelmed mom who already had four other kids. I was an “oops” baby. Surprise! But it wasn’t a happy one. My parents didn’t want another child, and my mother was filled with despair over getting pregnant with me. Once I was born, the whole family had varied responses to my showing up. I could sense my oldest brother’s rage, in particular. He was a teenager when I was born and was embarrassed and freaked out that his mom was pregnant.
I felt the range of responses from my entire family from a very, very young age. I mean, I sort of “grew” on my family after awhile, because I was a pretty darn adorable kid. But the feeling of being some kind of weird interloper stayed with me.
It still does to this day. I’m a comedian and actress and I don’t quite fit in with stand up comedians, nor do I feel like I’ve found my tribe with the actors where I live. I teach meditation and do healing work in the spiritual community, but I don’t really fit in with the new age crowd or the Buddhist crowd or the church-going crowd. I go from one group to the next, always feeling a little like an outsider.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t bother me now. I understand that “belonging” doesn’t happen because you’ve found any particular right group. Belonging happens in moments. Belonging is that feeling that you’re in the right place at the right time with the right people. It’s connection. It’s a common experience: shared, acknowledged, deeply felt. And it’s happening all the time, if you’ll just notice it.
Like when you catch eyes with a fellow coffee shop patron, both of you waiting forever to order. It’s when a stranger holds a door open for you. It’s a friend who says just what you need to hear when you’re down. It’s fifteen people all screaming at once as the roller coaster takes a dive, sending everyone’s heart into their throats at once. It’s laughter that’s contagious; rippling, rising, reaching a crescendo, as you and an audience of mostly people you don’t know find common ground in something funny onscreen at a movie theatre. Moments in time, etched in the heart.
Everyone has felt joy and sorrow and confusion and hope, just like you. Everyone has had their heart broken, just like you. Everyone wants happiness, just like you.
This binds you to others. This commonality keeps us connected. You belong because you are here. You belong because you breathe air, your heart beats, and you are part of this tribe known as humanity.
I’ve learned to go where the love is. Treasure the people who let you simply be as you are, warts and all. Don’t bust your butt trying to make people like you. Do your thing, dance your dance, move to your groove, and trust that there are others who can hear the same music that you do. They’re out there.
And it might not be a whole group. You might feel your deepest sense of belonging with one friend over here, another friend over there, or even by yourself. You may feel that sense of connection, of belonging – the sense of “otherness” dissolving – as you dance or draw or read a book.
Teaching meditation means I help people to become aware of what’s already there.
So start to notice. Catch those moments of being connected to others, connected to yourself, connected to spirit. That sense of belonging comes from the heart. And when you’re more deeply connected to yourself, you can notice the connections to others. So check in with yourself throughout your day and ask:
Who are you with when your heart opens, when it soars, when it feels full? What are you doing? Where are you?
Try it for a day. Try it for a month. Once you become aware of how many little moments of connection you experience throughout a day, you might be surprised.
You are part of this tribe of humans all living on this planet at once. Your presence is welcomed. And needed.
And I, for one, am glad you’re here.
You can also check out: A Message to Teens Who Feel Like They Don’t Belong by Dr. Kim D’Eramo
About the Author: Sarah TAYLOR is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a meditation teacher and a Master Level Reiki Practitioner, as well as an actor, comedian, and writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Drawing from a Buddhist background as well as the other non-dual spiritual traditions, her classes and talks are accessible and filled with humor. She was a series regular for three seasons on NBC’s “In Gayle We Trust”, can be seen in the comedy feature, “The Golden Scallop” and has made appearances on Hot In Cleveland, Bunheads, and numerous other TV shows and films. Read More…