I’ve been thinking lately about the nature of belonging. Growing up, I was an odd kid, with only one or two kids that I could really call friends. (I know, I know. Everybody claims they were a misfit growing up, and it can’t all be true. But it can totally be true that everyone FEELS like a misfit….you never know what someone else’s reality is like.) But I grew up in a provincial area, where most of the people had known each other from birth. I was a latecomer; we didn’t move there until I was 4. And I was weird. I wasn’t interested in what the other kids were interested in. They wanted to go outside and play, I wanted to curl up inside with a book, preferably from the adult side of the library. I despised dolls, and was interested in supernatural stuff, and forensic pathology (although I didn’t know to call it that then.) I’m grateful for those one of two kids that were willing to take on the burden of being friends with the weird kid.
It wasn’t until I was older that I started to form real and lasting bonds with people. My longest friendship (outside of siblings) is with a guy that was in boy scouts with my brother when we were in junior high. My second longest friendship is with a girl that he was friends with that I met right after high school. The next two are 27 and 26 years long. And along the way, I amassed a pretty amazing group of people that I am proud to call my friends….but there were lots of other people in between then and now that came and went (and occasionally came back again. Funny how that works.)
There’s a group that I joined a number of years ago, one that’s formed around a common interest. For a long time, I was a strong and active member of that group, taking on many responsibilities. As is the nature of such groups, there are always a few people doing most of the heavy lifting for the masses. And for many years, I was one of the few. But in the past year or so, this group has stopped being fun for me. And I realized that, although this group has been important to me (and hopefully, I to it), if it is not nourishing me, if it is not adding joy and value to my life….then it’s time to move on, and recognize that this is not my tribe.
I’m fortunate. I have a BFF that’s amazing. I already have plans to join a group of friends in the punk rock nursing home when we reach that point. I have my work posse, my art gang, and my framily….not to mention my actual family. But it’s still hard to come to the realization that a group that you felt like such a part of, that felt so much like home, is not a great fit anymore. But like I already said, people come and go. And for now, I’m going to go.
But maybe at some later point, I’ll decide that I want to be part of that tribe again. And, if I’m lucky, and if they really are my tribe, they will welcome me back.