In My Tribe – Isolation vs. Belonging

     Something that has been on my mind lately is feelings of isolation vs. feelings of belonging. I suspect this stems directly from my recent activities on a certain social networking site and the sudden interest in…dramatic pause…Friends. To Friend or not to Friend, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the unconfirmed Friend Request or just say, “Bugger. I don’t like her anyway.” 

     It has gotten me thinking. I don’t think I’ve quite conveyed here the horror I recall suffering at the hands of my classmates at Our Lady of Perpetual Hellish Misery. Maybe that’s a little melodramatic. Okay. Remember the kid everybody made fun of in school? The nerdy one who didn’t really fit in? The one people made a lot of fun of? Yeah. That kid was me. I’ll admit it, I was a weird kid (I’m a weird adult but now we call it “eccentric” and “quirky.”) and that didn’t help. So let’s just say I had a rough couple of years in grade school where I felt left out, isolated, and lonely and that really helped define who I am now.

    Looking back on the groups of people I’ve been part of – or not part of – the times I felt I belonged, truly fit in and felt good, are few and far between. I think I have spent a lot of my life worried that I’m not fitting in, even as an adult. I wonder if this this a habit now from too many years of use. Am I just focusing on the negative? Was I really having more fun that I remember, as much fun as all these other people seem to have had? I’m not talking about being lonely. I don’t feel lonely. I’m talking about a certain connection other people have innately.

     My hunch is some people who knew me at some of these points in my life will be surprised to know this. And I think many of them will remember me vastly differently than I remember myself. Same for events. You’ll remember that year differently than I will, not just because different things happened to us but because our we felt differently about ourselves and how we fit in to the grand scheme of things at the time.

    This is turning out to be a much more difficult post to write than I thought, since I’ve had all this percolating for a few weeks.  

    Dave Matthews and the Blue Man Group address the ideas in this way:

If I sing a song, will you sing along?
Or should I just keep singing right here by myself?

If I tell you I’m strong, will you play along?
Or will you see I’m as insecure as anybody else?

If I follow along, does it mean I belong?
Or will I keep on feeling different from everybody else?

     It’s a minor comfort that Dave the Blue Men feel different than everybody else. Well…I think maybe the Blue Men like it that way, don’t you? But Dave. If Dave feels like that then there’s hope for me yet.  

     I would say I’ve gotten better at understanding why I might feel out of place in certain situations and I think I’ve gotten better at navigating some of the relationships that make me feel out of place. I don’t think I will ever feel at ease at work (please see old post about work life) but I keep trying to find a connection.

   I’m not interested in throwing myself a pity party, though it might sound that way here. My dad might say this is all part of my “artistic temperament.” (And my mother would say I’m “moody.”) My friend C would say it’s because I’m a Cancer, prone to over-analysis and introspection. I’m just interested in exploring why if people are all alike, why do we feel different? If we’re all different, why don’t we find comfort in everybody being different?

I was going to post this then I thought of something else:

     The twist here is that I’m a writer. I write at work. I write at home. Scribble me this, Batman. Writing is a solitary endeavor, one that, for me at least, can’t be performed well without time alone in a quiet place. So for me to be happy writing I have to isolate myself which might lead to the belief that I am not part of the group because I have shut myself away with my work. I write to connect with people, as I am attempting to in this blog, and the irony is that I have to be alone to connect with people.

    Oh cruel irony, thou cold mistress!

    The plot thickens. I will continue to mull this over and report back with new findings.

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