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Lakshmipriya was born and raised in Perak, Malaysia and currently lives in London. Previously a Human Capital Consultant, she has worked in Malaysia and Dubai. She recently completed her PhD in Cognitive and Organizational Psychology in the UK. She has co-authored a book on talent management and is currently working on a paper that investigates the influence of sex differences when perceiving people. When not absorbed in academic research, Lakshmipriya enjoys Netflixing and cooking.

To Belong or Not To Belong

By Lakshmipriya

A dear friend texted me in the middle of the night (it was morning for her in Malaysia) asking if I feel a sense of belonging.  I was too tired to reply straight away, but the question did stir my mind.  A barrage of questions soon followed.  What is a sense of belonging?  Belonging to what or to whom?  Where do I belong?  Do other people feel it too?  How strong can it get?  This heavy and subjective topic is not one I could deal with in threshold consciousness.

When I was younger, there were times when I did not feel like I belonged to anyone, anywhere or to anything specific.  There have been moments when I did get close to it, but it was fragile or fleeting.  I guess it’s a little bit like being able to see the mist in the mornings, and feel the chills, but not quite able to touch it.  It is a very abstract feeling that is neither permanent nor temporary.  It is so fluid in nature, unbounded by time, space, and emotions.

Although I don’t often think about it, I believe it is beyond just being in a group or a society of people or even possessions.  It is more about gaining acceptance, support, love, and attention from members of a particular group/society and giving all these elements back in return.  Over time, I have come to realise that I have the power to create it for myself and it is imperative that I provide these elements to myself first.  That way, I would have a better sense of whether I need to feel like I belong in the first place.  I also believe that it is important to recognise whether the group/society is worth belonging to.  It is fairly easy to slip into feeling a fake or forced sense of belonging to a group of people that you know deep inside that is not good for you.  Belongingness should be a natural process that feeds our soul while teaching us our worth at the same time.

I may not have felt this amazing and important feeling as a child, but I have found a great number of friends and loved ones along the way who play an integral role in who I am today.  There are people in this world for everyone –  it is just a matter of being in the right time and right place – and of course, finding them.

But as they say: when you stop looking for it, that’s when it comes along.

Thank you Nesha Pany for stirring such a meaningful conversation.

The views expressed here are that of the writerr’s and not necessarily that of Weekly Echo’s.