Linking up with Lisa-Jo and Ann, on belonging.
Five minutes, just writing, words on the page.
Real, vital, full of the tang of ‘truthiness’, as my class might call it.
For the first quarter century of my life, I always felt like I didn’t belong. The RAF brat, always moving. The black sheep of my lovely family, mum and dad one unit, my doorstep siblings the other. Boarding school and the 24/7 game of thrones that can sometimes be. Neither Scottish nor English, a mutt. New houses, new faces, new schools.
Always having to find a new space in the pecking order. Sometimes top dog….sometimes bottom of the heap. University for undergrad was more of the same – while I picked up some lifelong friends during that time it was also a rollercoaster of emotions and there were some dark times. And always, always, I felt like I was walking on the ice of a lake before the thaw. Supported….for now.
After university came a gap year, then PGCE, then work. My confidence grew a little as the months passed by and I started to feel a little more secure. A little more like I belonged.
And then the loneliness hit.
Working sixty-five plus hours a week, hundreds of miles from friends, family, loved ones. Single like it was my job. The first two years of teaching taught me so much about belonging, because at my most alone physically, I realised that I did belong. I was loved and needed and heard, even when I went for days or weeks with no-one to hang out with or talk to beyond the school days.
Phone calls, letters, emails, blogging – through these media, the lonely little girl who felt like she never fit in learned, as a woman, that she had a place. A voice. Something to give. Those four years in my little flat in the country ended up being the making of me – not only did my first job set me up beautifully for the career I adore, but the being-on-my-own so much taught me that true belonging isn’t just about being surrounded by people (a big learning moment for this boarding school brat!). It isn’t about geography. It isn’t about a daily call, or a weekly letter, a monthly meal….it’s about all of us in our little orbits, making sure we cross paths where we can.
And now, I truly feel like I belong. My family and friends and Matthew are so great at helping me when I forget this, and this blesses me every day. My life may be quirky, but it’s mine. And here, in my little quirky place, is where I belong.