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How to Belong

·694 words·4 mins

I’m a creep

In Radiohead’s “Creep” there is a line that says “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here”. It has always struck a chord with me; It’s some thing that resonates in my mind. One of the reasons I don’t speak up is that I feel like I don’t belong. I’m an immigrant. I was born in another world, and often the phrase hums: “Do I belong here?” in the back of my mind. Here is what I’ve learned about how to find your tribe and be a part of it.

Being Heard by the Herd.

Elephants are big animals; They travel in herds across great distances in search of food and water while avoiding predators. Elephants communicate in low frequency sounds called “infrasound”. Similar to what we know as infrared, humans cannot detect it naturally. It is like their own secret language that only they can understand. This sound passes through many obstacles and enables Elephants to communicate over great distances.

Finding your herd takes opening up, being aware of your needs and sharing them with the world. Most will not hear it; but few will understand and share the same needs. Few will have ears to hear it. To get to those few you must share it in a way that passes through obstacles: courageously and openly. Share it with your groups around you. Share it with the groups you find. Share it often enough so that the chances that your voice gets heard by the herd increases. It’s ok, that most people don’t hear it. The message was not for them. But being open and aware is critical, and once you put yourself out there, someone will eventually hear you.

Going a certain way?

It starts off with just you heading a certain direction. As you move about in your journey you will find others that want to go the same way. You see what they are doing and they see what you are doing. Something resonates between the both of you, like a frequency of being a Badass. You agree to work together. This is your tribe, your herd. Your tribe is based on the common needs that you and others have. It consists of people that are like you, but doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact copy of you. Its just someone else that shares an aspect of your character and needs at the moment.

Feeling like you belong

Community is a habit. In the Business of Belonging (affiliate link) the book outlines a cyclic journey that each group member takes. It consists of three phases: identification, participation and validation. This is the habit of community engagement. At its core, it active and focused on what we do (not what we think should be done). In The Power Of Habit (affiliate link), habits are simple cue-routine-reward loops. In community we find our identity (identification) a cue, participate in the community (participation) the routine and get the reward of being validated in our belonging to that community.

For example, lets say we are a member of an online community for a tool. You see yourself as a user of the tool. You also see other users of the tool (cue); however some users are confused by a few of the nuances with the tool. They ask questions. You answer and offer a perspective that helps them (routine). You then are thanked for your contributions (reward). This is how we reinforce our identity in the community

Hey there

You do belong; We are all in a journey to get somewhere with the things we have. We are all trying to get somewhere; here or there. It takes speaking up in ways others may not hear, or care. Life is not fair. It is probabilistic. We share often enough and you will eventually find our tribe. There will be those that will go with you for short while and those that will go with you the long way around. There will be those who will hear you and those who will see you for who you are. You are welcome here.