You Already Belong

Growing up, I was the weird kid because I didn’t fit in with my peers. I was a vegetarian in the 90s and my first-grade teacher announced to the class I didn’t eat meat because I was Jewish. (I think you know this but just in case, the two are not related.) I didn’t grow up in a bastion of diversity and understanding and that’s colored, well, a lot.

As an adult, I let my freak flag fly and usually have no problem standing out. I joke that my biography title should be: “Always the Outlier: The Rebekah Moan Story” because it’s true in 99% of cases that I’m the outlier. Over the past few weeks though, I notice parts of me are scared to be vulnerable and authentic. I realize a lot of people feel that way but that’s an unusual feeling for me. Normally, I don’t have a problem saying, “This is me. Here’s how I’m feeling,” but some parts of me feel terrified to do that because I’m worried people will run away screaming if I do.

When I shared that with a friend, she said, “Yeah because I haven’t seen the real you in our eight years of friendship.” I never said it made sense but that’s what wounding does. It makes us irrational. I’ve been ruminating over my experiences and a strong memory emerged from second grade when my music teacher went around the room and asked every child what their favorite music genre was. One by one, every child said, “country,” including me, even though I couldn’t name a country song to save my life. What I meant to say was “oldies” because that’s what my parents played around the house but I didn’t because the pressure to fit in was too great.

line of people

You belong somewhere, I promise. Photo by Annie Williams on Unsplash

Here’s the thing though – sure, in that setting every child said “country” but that doesn’t mean every child everywhere would have answered in the same way. I didn’t realize at that time I wasn’t weird, it’s more that I didn’t have anything in common with the people around me. That’s different. People who shared my interests existed in the world even if I didn’t go to school with them. What’s helping me to remember this is I organized a Zoom meetup for the young people in my spiritual community.

In our small group, we had people joining from London, Copenhagen, Moscow, and all over the U.S. Within the U.S., some people originally hailed from India, the Philippines, and Brazil. Only a handful of people live geographically close to me, which feels like the greatest gift, but also knowing there are people like me who live far away is a gift. It reminds me I do belong and there is a place for me. When I share that with the parts of me that feel like a weirdo, loser freak, they feel better too because I imagine a thread connecting me to each and every person in the world who is like me.

There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis who said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” Precisely. You’re not the only one even if sometimes it feels that way. You aren’t the only one even if the people around you are into different things. You already belong right here, right now and I hope you can feel that.

I dream of a world where we recognize someone, somewhere is into the things we’re into. A world where we remember that just because the people around us are into different things doesn’t mean we’re weird. A world where we recognize we may be far apart from the people who are most like us, but those people do exist. A world where we remember we already belong.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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