I have been thinking a lot lately about belonging or, conversely, the feeling of separation, of being the outsider. When you are going through a tough time in life, whether it is because you are struggling with your job, a relationship, or the facts of the world around you, it is so easy to feel like you don’t belong.
Today I am going to talk about belonging for all the creative folks out there (is that ALL of us I wonder?). After a lot of reflection, I was thinking about how many of us were made to feel like we don’t belong for any number or the whole lot of potential reasons: I am too sensitive, my career goals don’t match those that are valued by our economy, what I love to do is undervalued monetarily, my gender doesn’t match that of the geniuses and leaders I learned about, or maybe my sexuality, gender or race or nationality doesn’t conform to society’s expectations of who I should be.
Lately I’ve been really feeling the “what I love to do is undervalued monetarily one”. Sure you can find a handful of good examples of people that make it with design, apparel, art, cooking, but there are lots of others that struggle with very little to do what they love in the margins of their career. And in some ways this struggle to find belonging just the way we are, is a very personal one. Sure there were lots of messages as a child from our culture that made me worry about whether I would belong being sensitive, loving nature, being a woman who wants to lead, as a designer, as a crazy biker. But as we are able to connect with people and find belonging across community borders or in pockets of community or supporters where we are, the struggle shifts from being entirely about what society will or won’t accept (if they don’t like it, there are plenty more who will) to a personal struggle for belonging that takes place inside of us.
And for me that struggle is very real. All of the old messages I sponged up from the mainstream U.S.A culture are still parroting their way around my head: Art is frivolous, if you were where you should be right now you would be married and 10 yrs up the ladder situated in a one very lucrative career (ideally tech). You would own your own home. You should want these things: a car payment, an all consuming job in tech, a smart watch, a huge ton of friends who I stay in touch with on Facebook on a weekly basis. You should not want these things: a garden (maybe after you retire from your tech job), lots of time to cook and make art, just a few really close friends, a bit of very quiet time every day. And amidst all this muck and noise I have to figure out what I actually want, try to find a way to turn down the volume on the noise that doesn’t originate from inside.
And I think a lot about the current struggle so many of us are going through in the clear period of transition that is taking place as a society, where we figure out and accept our belonging and each other’s, reject all the crap of who we should be and express our own beauty, our own landscape with all the special topography and ecology we were born with. And this can certainly be extended into belonging around the way we should look, what are bodies should look like. Our work right now is to fully reject this and be present enough to hear when the noises start up again and we are feeling shitty about ourselves. We just don’t have time for all the crappy muck anymore. We got to let ourselves live and love life free of the fog of feelings that we don’t belong. If you find the fog materializing and are starting to have trouble seeing through it maybe ask yourself this question: Why in the world would we be born into this world in a state of non-belonging? That just makes no sense at all. So let’s assume that we all belong as God/Universe/Big Energy intended us to be and work to move everything else out of the way so we can stop mucking around and live in that love and acceptance.
Thank you for being apart of the belonging we share here.