Wanting to Belong

The Inspired Life

Popularity. Acceptance. Fitting in. Wanting to be liked and part of the gang. The IN crowd. We all want it in varying degrees. We want it from different people. For some, it begins with the popular kids on the playground and never ends. Or it’s the parent that didn’t have time, or never knew how to say the words, “I’m proud of you, I love you, you are so special to me.”

Acceptance and approval are strong motivators. The desire for approval and the nod of pride from someone you respect can keep you at work longer than a high paying check. Job satisfaction and company moral is much higher based on how a person feels about how they are doing and how they are being perceived more than how much they are getting paid.

In social situations as well, the need for belonging and feeling needed are strong enough motivators to inspire mediocre attitudes to rise to the occasion. Shine the light on them, make them feel included and part of the group and you will inspire loyalty, kindness and bonds of friendship. In our day and age of the E-world, people who can span the distance by virtue of the net are not spending quality time in the real world with friends, family and the people who are important to them. They crave companionship. They crave fun, social bonding. They want to play.

The world is in a financial stuggle. The cost of gasoline has us scrambling to find new ways to budget our cash yet we buy Iphones, video games, the latest “WE” -toys for grown ups. What ever one of “us” have, the rest must head out to purchase and the dominoes fall until the rest catch up.  Hey, the *Jones* of our parents day wouldn’t stand a chance trying to keep up with us now.

Bigger and better and funner and finer. Until we hit the wall. Then we yearn for simpler and easier and quieter and cheaper. But we still want to belong. We don’t want to be simple and quiet all alone.

What’s a Sneech to do?

We will chat more about this complex problem in part two.  In the mean time…

How do you find the balance? Do you find yourself more on the simplicity side or the keeping up with the crowd side? Do you experience the feeling of being left out in the cold, of wanting to belong but watching from the sidelines? Do you feel like you need to buy your way in? Or have you just walked away from it all?

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17 thoughts on “Wanting to Belong

  1. Hi Wendi,

    This is a thought-provoking topic and one that comes up often in my writing. Actually it is a pet peeve of mine – people goading others to conform and ostracizing them when they do not acquiesce to their call.

    In my teen years I fought against those who tried to cajole me into walking, talking, dressing and liking what they liked. It was not always an easy fight and balance came at a cost. Most times I was the victim, the collateral damage in the war to make me a clone of my peers.

    Even now at fifty-two, I still have friends who are at a lost to understand why I am so independent and intent on being my own person, going my own way and doing my own thing. I find balance by creating a quiet place within to retreat when the pressures on. In that place of inner silence and solitude, I focus on my spiritual beliefs, my passion and what I belief is my life purpose. Then if what other people want for me and from me falls outside of those areas, I pray for God’s help to resist their prompting, do so with grace and go on with the business of living my life.

  2. “Acceptance and approval are strong motivators. The desire for approval and the nod of pride from someone you respect can keep you at work longer than a high paying check.”

    Very true. If only my boss has realized this…

  3. I have to admit that I’ve occasionally (often) pulled long hours to do work for this very reason. I have a manager who *never* forgets to thank people for a job well done, and that sincere thanks has motivated me a number of times…

  4. Great, thought provoking topic. I was always the kid who sought out the least popular kids and befriended them. I wanted to draw them into the circle of acceptance. That has always been my natural inclination. As a 44 year old adult, I have opted for simple. No iphone (I love my no frills, no contract, unlimited everything $40 phone bill and could care less about being ever connected to email), or popular toys. I have no problem with stuff, unless of course it begins to own you rather than the other way around. However, I’m human too and of course a kind word, a nod of acceptance or encouragement from someone you like/respect impacts me too. I look forward to reading and learning more!

  5. The older I get…the more I dont’ WANT to belong.

    (Present company excepted) I find my generation (35-45 something’s) tend to be self-centered, materialistic and stuck on the workaholic-busy treadmill.

    We may have more STUFF than our parents, but we’re certainly not HAPPIER. We tend to neglect close personal relationships and spirituality, and we pursue the Mighty Dollar instead. We’re kind of a lost generation, not knowing what we really want.

    So (kicking and screaming), I try to resist the urge to become Assimilated by the Yuppie Borg.

    At mainstream parties and social get-togethers, I often feel that I don’t belong. And in some ways, I’m GLAD I don’t fit in!!!

  6. Some of that fits me to a T, unfortunately. A lot of my life has been spent on trying to fit in. I have a hard time finding a group that accepts me for me and if they do I am always paranoid of being put out. I like being different but for the longest time all I have really wanted is to belong.

    I can’t wait to read part 2!!

  7. I agree with Friar, people seem to be so afraid of not having things that they aren’t any fun.

    Worse than just un-fun they are in denial about reality, look at all the tv commercials, everything is to ‘protect you’ like you’re some kind of delicate flower, protect your ‘good name’ protect your teeth, protect your car, protect your investments, most of those services and products are from companies busted for fraud!

    All the pharmacuetical companys have been busted for lying and killing people with their products, the car companies, all of them, cover up dangerous flaws, the investment companies are routinely busted for fraud, the banks screw up and get bailed out by taxpayer money, the western world is going broke because of a war that’s been proven to be on false pretenses, the richest religion in the world promoted the guy who tried to cover up child molesting priests instead of sending him to jail. basically, if you are trying to be ‘normal’ the way tv suggests you live, you living a lie as the madmen are the ones in charge.

  8. I joke about that age-old feeling of walking into the cafeteria after going through the food line. Holding your tray and looking around for space at any table and feeling like an idiot.

    My focus is never on the “outside” and what they might be doing to make us all feel alienated. That’s not going to help at all. My approach is always to come back to center. And when I feel like the kid in the cafeteria, I always try to say this one little prayer, “Send me the people I can serve. Let this be about connection and not trying to belong.”

  9. I’m both! Always a contradiction. I want and need approval and very much to be liked, even admired, but at the same time, I don’t want much to do with the status quo and I tend to think and act very differently from most. I was always the black sheep growing up. I think for myself. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t copy certain things I thought were cool.

    I guess I just pick what groups I value and respect and I find I want and need to fit in those, not necessarily by assimilating but by contributing something they value in turn.

  10. @Steph
    I think the value of choosing the right groups that you respect is wise. It took me a long time to do that. I try very hard to ask myself now Why I need the approval, what I am seeking it for. Often, it isn’t the reason I thought it was. Journaling has been a huge help with this process.

    @ Christine

    Welcome! So nice to have you here! I know that cafateria feeling by heart from grade school. I too try to live my life by being a servent-a vessel of help to others. It makes a big difference when I can keep that as my focus. Thanks for that great suggestion.

  11. @Daz & Friar

    I agree about the commercialism and the attitude yuck. I don’t want any part of it and try to stay away from it. The easiest way for me is just to turn off the TV. Since I don’t ever see a commercial, I am pretty ignorant of all the stuff they are trying to push down my throat.

    I get enough on the web. But its at least managable here for now.

  12. Jenny.

    Who ever told those Star-bellied snots that they were the popular ones anyway? Other people should be trying to fit in to YOUR club. YOU are the nice one. 🙂 Let them come hang out with you!

    Karen,

    I went and found those same non-popular kids too. Then decided we could be our *own* popular gang. We learned to make our own fun. I taught my kids the same thing. You are going to have as much fun as you want to have. Stop looking in everyone else’s windows and watching them live life- go live your own. But it took me a long time. My kids were much better at it.

  13. Cheryl

    Welcome, nice to have you commenting, I appreciate your thoughts, they fit in very well with what part two is all about. I agree with you very much.

    Leafless, I’ve worked for that boss too.. sad people those kind of bosses 😦

    ME

    I believe we are all motivated by sincere praise. Nothing wrong with it As long as we are staying true to our own calling and purpose and we don’t let our need for approval lead us astray from what we should be doing. It can be like a drug to some of us sometimes and lead us off in the wrong direction. Or with bad people if it wasn’t really sincere in the end. that’s a whole other subject…

  14. I pretty much always find myself on the simplicity side. I get serious enjoyment out of doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. I don’t think it’s really any better than following the crowd, since it’s still a reaction to others. Still, this instinct has served me well, and I think I’m starting to grow into it in a more sustainable, non-reactionary way.

    I think you made a great point that the natural need to fit in can be used to accomplish great things and bring out the best in people. That’s a wonderful way to look at it.

  15. Hi Wendi,

    I have gotten old enough where I don’t care if I have what everyone else has. In reality, most people don’t care anyway (even though we think they do).

    I like to be part of a family, part of a friendship circle, and with blogging, part of a community. Other than that, I’m striving to have a simple life.

  16. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    The swimming greats you should write about next, my ex was an olympic swimmer!

  17. Weapons,

    I plead total ignorance.

    Barbara, anyone? Do you even know what that means? I just write…So hopelessly unaware of how most of this works behind the scenes, I have only been doing it for four months now. Soon I will switch over to a non-free WordPress site and probably have to start over anyway…Such is my luck 🙂

    Thank you for the compliment. I am glad you like it here. I hope you will subscribe and become part of our community!

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