I'm reading
The evolution of belonging
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
The evolution of belonging
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
The evolution of belonging
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
19 September 2019

The evolution of belonging

Belonging is an evolution that twists and turns with life, manifesting itself in different ways.

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

As life unravels itself, our relationship with belonging evolves, influenced by circumstance, life’s new-comers and what we allow ourselves to believe we need in that moment. Sometimes the desire to belong is of paramount importance and at other times it can seem insignificant.

Growing up I jostled with my siblings to find my space in family. Belonging was craved and necessary. It took the form of boisterous dinners, bedtime stories and being squeezed into the back of cars en-route to a holiday house.

At primary school I embraced the safety of belonging, my ability to kick a soccer ball quite hard and straight, made me a sought-out member of any lunch time kick about and a must-have at class birthday parties.

As a teenager I unclipped the safety harness of fitting in and dared to be different. Different music, different clothes, different opinions, an ill-advised tattoo. If you wanted to come with me that was fine, but I was going to do my thing regardless.

In my late 20s I found my people and myself. I understood what mattered to me and what didn’t. This is the time I look back on as belonging my most, a phase of life I nostalgically explore from time to time. Knowing that nostalgia presents itself with a lovely rose-tined hue that is hard to resist.

In my 30s I took myself away from everything I knew, everything I understood, everything that felt like belonging, to live in a new and foreign country. In the coming years I’ve truly understood the significance of what it is to belong.

In seeking it it’s evaded me, in looking for it in the places it used to exist it isn’t there. The moments I look back on so fondly have passed, they aren’t there anymore and can’t be picked up and transported.

The challenge I have set myself is to stop looking for it, stop comparing it and to accept that it will come again, in a different form, when it’s ready or more importantly when I am ready.

Poet and friend of Dumbo Feather Pádraig Ó Tuama believes that belonging comes from a deeper connection to self. “It is a good thing to find the time to be alone, and be alone. It is a good thing, when alone, to listen. And to learn. And to act. Being alone helps us be together.”

These days I focus on creating the same warm embrace I needed from family for my son. Leaving him with no doubt that he belongs. I explore new relationships with an open mind, allowing them to breathe to see if they fit and if they don’t that’s okay. I accept that belonging is not a given but a privilege to be cherished while it’s there in whatever form it takes.

Who knows how belonging will manifest itself next, but I do know it will emerge from within.

Illustrations supplied by The Enshrine Project

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