The feeling of not belonging

Today I experienced yet another deep-seated sensation of not belonging. I realized that I wasn’t just feeling uncomfortable, I specifically felt like I didn’t belong. I pondered this, and realized how many other situations I find myself in where the uncomfortable feeling is also specifically not belonging, or unwantedness. Where do these feelings come from?

I have a few ideas.

People pleasing and perfectionism are a deadly duo that will destroy your entire identity and life if left unchecked. I’m constantly bringing up these two in my writing, because I am so affected by them and they are often viewed as positive attributes or overlooked in regards to mental and emotional health. Perfectionism and people pleasing are attributes that you could ride right onto the shores of conventional success, but it comes at a price, because when you arrive, you are not your true self. While you might be superficially happy, you will probably experience a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with life.

I asked myself – why do I feel like I don’t belong? If I do not belong here, then where do I belong? The answer: nowhere. Why don’t I feel like I belong anywhere? Answer: because I do not allow myself to. Why don’t I allow myself to belong? Answer: because I don’t want to be defined by it. Why would that be a bad thing? Answer: because when you are defined, less people will approve of your actions, participation, and/or identity. The more you define yourself, the harder it is to people-please…

Ah ha!

And isn’t that one of the most awful connections to draw? I’m not allowing myself to fully immerse myself into anything, because I have a subconscious fear that if I define myself too permanently, I will be less socially marketable.

Another idea, is just the simple fact that I don’t allow myself to belong. You can belong anywhere you would like to, if you can muster up the feeling. You aren’t “supposed” to be anywhere. It’s obviously easier being familiar places, with familiar people… but that doesn’t need to define how you feel about yourself if you step outside that comfort zone.

I’ve learned that God really is the answer to everything. Draw close to God, and you don’t need anyone or anything else. In this circumstance, it applies in the sense that God is where ever we are. When we live our lives in the presence of God, we are never alone, and we are forever belonging. We belong to God, regardless of where we are or who we are with. This is simple, but important, and something anyone can take great comfort in.

Despite the seemingly finite conclusions I’ve just drawn, the feeling of not belonging is difficult to pin down as an emotion and especially difficult to pin down a source. The example above is just an example… an explanation of an instance. Other times, the feeling of not belonging is your intuition telling you that you do not, in fact, belong in what ever place you are finding yourself.

It’s important to walk the fine line between going with the flow and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Pushing the boundary allows for enriching, challenging, awakening experiences – this is truly what life is all about. However, in finding our life’s purpose, we must also follow the flow of our lives, which we can only feel out in the dark with the help of God and our intuition.

I think the take-home message is this. In a moment when you feel like you don’t belong, wade through the uncomfortable emotions and find out why do I feel this way. The answer will lie in one of these two general categories: 1) you are in some way not allowing yourself to belong or 2) your intuition is telling you that this place where you find yourself simply disagrees with the purpose of your soul. In the first case, try to summon the feeling of allowing. Allow yourself to exist fully as yourself outside your comfort zone. Pray to God for loving support, and for the reminder that where we are, God is. In the second case, ponder the answer, find the clues, and carry on gratefully with this circumstance behind you as a lesson.

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