Most of us want to belong. We want to have that sense of community, of being part of a group.
On one hand, I want to be an individual. I've been taught my entire life to be an individual, yet being an individual isn't always enough. Is this a character flaw? At times it would feel as if it is. I should be strong enough to do things on my own. I don't want to have to rely on others. I'll do it myself! Yet, I still seek out community in my life. I want to be part of a group.
According to Sarason (Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Yale University), sense of community is “the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure.” Others have defined sense of community as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”
A problem can arise when you don't have a perception of similarity. It's us vs them, but what about when feel like you're neither an us or a them? What if you feel like both.
Can you really be both?
Some days I'm not sure where I am. I feel pulled in many different directions. You see me one way, she sees me another way, and I don't see myself either way. None of these things are negatives, they are just opportunities to look outside of ourselves and open up to the greater world. If you don't feel the need to belong, good for you, I guess. If you do, maybe you want to think about the different groups and how you belong to each. What strengths do you see in your various groups? What are they sharing with and teaching to you? What are you providing in return? Each of us has talents and strengths that we share with those around us. Many times we don't even realize what those talents or strengths might be. Sit down with an honest friend some time and ask them what they see as your strengths or talents. It might just surprise you!
Maybe you belong more than you think and matter to those in your community! And, others are committed to you and you to them, even if you think you have to be an individual and don't yet know how to ask for those things you need.