Vinay Hiremath

Belonging

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Note: This isn’t the type of post I expected to write when setting up this blog, but given the extraordinarily long hiatus since my last post and nonexistent readership (most posts are primarily written to help me structure my thoughts), it seems as worthy as any.

Moments devoid of thought are often scarce in a world dominated by notifications and messages from seemingly every direction, but I am regularly impressed by their value. During a recent such standstill, I found myself reflecting on the factors outside of my life that made my life experiences over the last few years as enjoyable and fulfilling as they were.

The Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad once wrote that our “basic needs never change” in juxtaposition with what he views as the message of today: change is constant and furthermore, “the rate of change increases.” Specifically, he cites the “need to belong” as one such everpresent basic need, and during my fleeting moment of reflection I could not agree more. Throughout the variety of cities I have lived in over the past several years and the variety of communities therein I found myself embedded in, I can truly say that I was able to find people that accepted me for who I am just enough to nurture me with a sense of belonging, but not excessively so, still allowing me room in which to grow amid internal pressure to better myself. I expect that my personality elicits a number of quirks and quibbles, including persistence in topics of conversation that regularly interest no one besides myself, though it is unclear if I am unusually so endowed. Despite these, I cannot remember ever feeling notable pressure to be someone fundamentally different, but only to be a better version of myself, oddities and all. Perhaps it is that people have a surprising ability to draw out the facets of another’s personality that they best understand but to also (more surprisingly) empathize with the others they may not appreciate but can nonetheless express admiration towards.

The delicate balance of belonging can likely be placed on a spectrum between blind acceptance and questionably constructive criticism, both posing harms of their own. I find myself grateful and even impressed that I have so far been provided that balance, and I can only express my eternal thanks to those who have helped to make it possible.