We all know that it’s imperative to include a social identity in our lives. We all know that we are social creatures. We all know that we feel better knowing that in the event of a major life event, we will have someone who will be there for us. Are we an authentic reflection of our community? Does our community serve our individual needs?
Sometimes, we force ourselves into a community where we don’t fit. Other times, we have to be part of a community where we are not welcome or wanted.
Our social isolation can lead to a bevy of less savory thoughts. How do we navigate a world of knowing where we belong? Is there a formula? A test? An app? Probably yes to all of these things. Perhaps though, that’s only part of the social story of our lives.
What is your social story?
It’s a culmination of your actions, your familial migration and your life choices. It is not necessarily your “story”. Though it may have a lot to do with how you think about the world, it’s not as easy as ‘just deciding’. It is a sign of social privilege to assume that anyone at any time can simply change their location and completely overhaul their lives.
Only someone who has money can completely change their lives. The reality is, there are millions (billions) of people around the world who have no choice but to remain where they are for hundreds of thousands of reasons. They may have no money. They may be refuges. They may be obligated. They may not be able to afford to find a better community. They may even be stuck in a mindset that paralyzes them so much that they would rather stay unhappily where they are than risk a whole new experience.
All of the examples above are a reflection of the values we were raised with and the people who shaped our thoughts. We do to a certain degree, become a reflection of the social experiences that we live in. When we’re socially content, we’re personally secure. When we’re comfortable in our own home town, we are better set up to thrive in ways that can’t always be overtly studied.
There is the obvious community, like our systems. School. Hospitals. Police forces. Churches. But then there is the less obvious stuff that also matters. How welcome do you feel at a community gathering? Will you attend that parade, or go celebrate at a concert with a few hundred thousand strangers?
When we go out into public places, we are also stepping into a different part of ourselves. We are silently asking for a commitment to be accepted by people. We are telling the world who we are and why we matter by how we choose to think, see and ‘be’.
In return, we are either defining our view of the world, or allowing the world to define us. When we belong, we are home. Or, is it that we are home, and then, we’ll belong? All is up for interpretation.
We are not who they say we are. They are who they say we are.
Peace and Belonging!
About the Author: Karen Henry, MA CRM owns Henry Healing as a holistic well-being practitioner and writer. She’s a former university professor and current scholar practicing the infusion of positive, existential and community psychology.