For a long time I have been yearning to discuss belongingness, sub cultures and conformity- its ideology and relevance to modernity. This subject is something that I feel emotionally resonant about and until now I haven’t had the ideal platform to voice my thoughts on the matter. First off, I must highlight the concept of belongingness or what it means to have a sense of belonging. Simply put, a sense of belonging means gaining acceptance within a social circle, organisation or group within some sort of social construct. In other words, it involves sharing similar commonalities, values or skills with other people in an environment and formulating an identity, thus, giving us a purpose. We as a people are herded creatures with a basic instinct or need of attaining a sense of security, hence the reason why we tend to associate ourselves within safe spaces. For example, to fulfil this inherent need we may become a member of a church, a Facebook group, a band or a club etc. Why? – Because it satisfies us both emotionally and psychologically.
However, sometimes this insatiable urgency to gain acceptance can very well put us in unfavourable situations. Take for instance, you’re in a group and you try to avoid conflict by going along with the group’s consensus even though you have a different opinion. This is otherwise known as the phenomenon “group-think”. I have on many occasions over the years bear witness and fell victim to the latter. During my younger years, I was quite naive. I couldn’t completely understand how I came to acquire numerous varying interests that underpinned my capacity to potentially fit within multiple group settings. Likewise, we were all teenagers once and followed our friends and the scenes they were into, that was the way we bonded, learned and found appreciation for new and different things. As I grew older and now looking back at that period in my life I realise that some of the things I liked from my past experiences in those groups still resonates with me.
I think it is crucial that I highlight my thoughts and observations about belongingness because it is of paramount importance that everyone whom are victims of its adverse effects receive my message; accept and love yourself for who you are and don’t lose yourself in search of belonging. One thing for sure, I have learnt from being a part of groups that its culture plays an influential role in your values and morals. There is always some individual that thinks they are above the group or knows best, and expect you to jump high or low when they say X, Y and Z. But I beg to differ, if what they are saying doesn’t sit well with you then rise to the challenge and voice your opinion, even though you may feel alone. I remember when I was a teenager; going through my “dark period” I was immersed into the emo music scene. I gravitated towards it because it symbolised “non-conformity” or so I assumed. However, at the same time everyone conformed to the group’s culture of wearing black clothes, and therein lays the hypocrisy of conformity. Hence, it’s important to pay attention to what groups really stand for and if feel their values align with yours.
In today’s society, this technological age, we can sometimes get lost when using our phones or typing behind the computer. Media is everywhere and constantly persuades us to follow popular trends. This is fine, but it is equally important to challenge the status quo, don’t just sit quietly and accept it, stay true to who you are as a person. It makes absolutely no sense to allow something that is damaging to you and others to progress. In other words, you would be doing a disservice to the world. So I challenge YOU to be YOU, let the world know who you are and never be afraid of not belonging.
March 13, 2017 in Food for Thought