This year, I started doing a monthly assessment of myself. It is what it sounds like: at the end of each month, I take a look at things about myself, how I’m improving, and how much more I have to go. It’s my 4th one now, and it really is helping me to think more and more about gaining a stronger self-awareness in order to move through life improving on a daily basis. The best way to go through life is to seek to learn more, improve, and strive for higher and higher goals.
Last month’s assessment ended with ‘belonging’ as one of the main points I wanted to think about/focus on more; trying to pay attention to where I feel most comfortable with fitting in, how I might belong to a place/group/people, and how I operate. This is probably the biggest thing I focused on throughout April. Everyone has the need to feel as though they belong to something. When you’re a young teenager, you long to figure out where you fit in the best and feel the most comfortable – maybe it’s the basketball team, maybe it’s art class, maybe it’s band, maybe it’s simply with a circle of friends whom know you the best. No matter what, it is within this group that you will give your best efforts and often enjoy your time the most. As we grow, I believe we as social beings who thrive from others in our own way (age notwithstanding) still seek to have at least one or two places such as this. Maybe it’ll be our workplace (especially if it is within our ideal career); maybe it’s with a special activity we do in our free time, like singing in the community choir or weekly church functions. It helps to define who you are in a way.
One thing I’ve come to learn about myself is that I feel as though I can belong to a group more when I feel as though I can contribute something in a positive way – especially when it involves responsibility. When I can help complete a goal or task, I feel like I’m giving back or helping, and I feel much more a part a major contributor, and therefore I feel more comfortable being involved. When I am unable to do this, I feel much more removed from the group. For example, throughout this month, my voice went in and out for some days due to physical illness. As a result, I had to take a few days off here and there from singing in choirs at school to rest my voice, allowing it to (eventually) return in full. Most days, I would still sit in on rehearsals to still receive the information, but by doing that & not being able to contribute by singing, I felt so useless. I know that’s not really true, but I couldn’t help but feel much more removed from helping the groups achieve a great goal – musical greatness in performance. On the contrary, I’ve had more and more positive experiences in the choirs have done the opposite for me. With the Men’s Chorus, the music I rehearsed/conducted with them went beautifully in our performances after much hard work, and the more time I had in front of them to make music, the more comfortable I became with these guys in general. One of these concerts brought me the most fun I’ve had performing in a choir concert in a long time, and by now, I had gained a strong sense of belonging with them. Moreso, I started to feel a similar sense of belonging with the Chorale (a group which I had originally felt more intimidated by being in) because I began to have more time either in front of them for rehearsals and started getting to know other members a bit better.
Last month I also wrote about feeling this more and more with my church choir, and much of this was for similar reasons – being able to invest more time & responsibility to stay connected with them; as well as the fact that they are just plain old wonderful human beings (seriously, the kindest people I will ever meet). I’ve also more than established this with my coworkers at my weekend part-time job of many years, but this took a long time to feel completely comfortable – I was a quiet, stoic worker when they hired me. By now, the more time I spent there, the more comfortable I became with the genuinely kindhearted environment, and especially the more I was able to enjoy the people & prove I was a responsible worker – the more I opened up and became myself. Now it’s not as much of a job for me as it is being able to spend time working with another family of mine.
Belonging to an accepting family – whether it’s my actual loving family, my fun work family, my wonderful church choir family, or my newly developing school family – is an important aspect of my life and development as a person. These relationships, while varied, help me to adjust to and through life in ways that make it all worth it in a unique, but important way. I feel more attached and important when these are in place, and not as though I’m just going through motions on anything. When I feel as though I’m missing this in an area, I feel either less inclined to invest myself in whatever’s going on, or I just feel useless, as though I am not a part of anything. And when we’re not a part of something good, we need to be sure we’re not a part of something bad…before it finds us.