Sense of Belonging

Home is the place where it feels right to walk around without shoes’ ~ Unknown.

What constitutes a feeling of home, a feeling of belonging to a place?

Where do you even consider home to be?

There is no automatic answer to that question for me. The last 4 years have been spent in limbo, just hovering and not putting down any roots, no sense of permanency. My possessions remain in boxes, suitcases always lingering somewhere and not daring to get comfortable as I know where I am is only a temporary measure.

Each year at University was spent in a different place (shifting from halls of residence, to a shared house, to an apartment with my boyfriend, each yearly rents then late 2009 traveling). This constant shifting means I haven’t felt truly settled since my childhood. I can happily say ‘that’s my apartment’, but ‘that’s my home’ I can’t let those words leave my lips and honestly mean it.

I long for a place that feels like I belong there, where I can be surrounded by everything that is mine, my entire book collection can sit on their own shelves reminding me of all the fictitious places I’ve visited. Walls dashed with paint in shades that are my choice, a place with a collection of memories and walls that can attest to being more than a meager slice of my history. Somewhere I can start adding personal touches, buying furniture for and not worry about moving things the next year. Finding the perfect reading spot and which corner of the room ‘feels right’ for my desk.

I’ve felt home to be a sanctuary on the days where you need somewhere to hide away from the world. Somewhere you don’t have to put on a show. No one is going to mind if you’re not deemed Vogue-worthy and slopping around your lair in oversized t-shirts and sweats. You can be on your worst behavior – feeling irritable and unsociable – and get away with it. The way your home sees you is your natural state, and that’s perfectly okay.

‘Coming home’ must be a marvelous feeling.

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6 Comments

Filed under Calgary, Canada, Life, Musings and Aphorisms, Personal Development

6 responses to “Sense of Belonging

  1. Julie

    i understand how you feel. The distance between San Diego and LA may not be far but the culture is different. Living in San Diego, I noticed a lot of people in this county stay where they are. Some people find it shocking that I moved from LA to San Diego all by myself for work and starting all over again. Then there’s some people who find it romantic because it’s like a rolling stone, it sounds free and how things really should be after college graduation. But I feel the reality is that I have to put in A LOT of effort to make this illusion of “romance”. I would like to blog about it someday but it would be a little too personal since I know people read my stuff. you’re welcome to e-mail me if you’d like (julie.dsantos@gmail.com). But the condensed version is when I first relocated for work, I was so so so poor from the money I spent for job hunting and paying the debt I accrued in college and I was unemployed for a while right after college because I couldn’t keep my student job since I graduated. I may have been employed but you have to wait a bit for your first paycheck you know. Also the night I went for salsa dancing class, I remembered in college I swore I would never do another ballroom dance class because I just look silly but yet I went salsa dancing so the effort was coming out of my shell and meeting people (and guys hahah). What else did I put effort for? well instead laying around hoping something will come, I look for something to do to keep sane. I even participated in postcrossing.com to have a mailbox full of nice postcards and I would like to send a random act of smiles to someone in the world myself every week. But making effort doesn’t stop there. Work is so much different from much different from school. I am so happy to be working because interacting with coworkers is different from interacting with your lab partner and it’s a learning experience. I am continuously learning to be able to manage a bunch of tasks in the lab without rushing but at the same time be able to finish otherwise you’d be alone in the lab and theres no one to verify your experiment so you can’t really go on with your project until the next day (I always say “noooo!”). I’m trying to find that balance and it’s really not so black and white. Everyone was so right about the whole working before going into grad school–you don’t need a year before going to grad school. Your first year is just training–I know it’s a long time but I feel I’ve got a long way to go. I do want to go to grad school (eventually and when the time is right) and I am glad I’m getting experience that you would be doing a lot of in grad school anyways because a mistake can cost you another year in grad school *sighs*.

    • Thanks for the kind words and advice Julie. Means a lot.

      I have a post on culture shock in the works, I think some people don’t realise that even going between cities and places where you might not expect much difference (England –> USA or Canada) can really throw you, and sometimes be upsetting.

      I get that too. People thinking it’s some huge adventure and everything is going to be glowing and I will find the life I’ve always wanted. I have it figured out apparently – what an illusion! The description of ‘romantic’ is spot on. I think people find the idea of starting over very alluring. I have heard ‘I wish I could do that’ so many times, but it requires a lot of planning and putting yourself out there. I never had trouble being in a strange city for Uni, but being a few months in Canada in the autumn/winter I found harder than I imagined. I was kinda happy to come home to England but I missed Canuck land too.
      I will definitely be emailing you! It would be fantastic to have someone whose been there, done that to chat with.

      Most likely the placements I will get in the labs will be unpaid as I’m practically begging them to let me in 😦 I feel guilty that my boyfriend is being the main contributor towards our apartment even though he is trying to convince me it is ‘our money’. I am terrible at accepting money and help, always have been and always will be. I really need the experience to get considered in trainee embryologist positions so hopefully I can make it up to him in the future when I’m getting (gasp!) paychecks.

      I love your idea about salsa dancing classes. I remember going to the gym to meet people, I’m not even a gym person, gym equipment scares me. But I did it just to say ‘hi’ to people and have them exclaim at my British accent. Geeky, but I used Criagslist and that’s a story for another post – a successful one though after I filtered out the bizarre people.

      Let me know if you come up with any more ‘sanity-keeping’ ideas. I have to keep busy otherwise it starts slipping away. I registered at postcrossing.com (thanks to you!), I’m so excited about sending and receiving little gems from around the world. I might start a wall collage above my desk in my den that’s apparently in the new apartment. Let me know if you’d like to trade postcards! I miss real mail 🙂

      I’m scared about working in a lab again, it feels like its been to long. I hope I haven’t lost my lab chick ways. Sounds like you’re enjoying it though? It’s going to be strange to be under supervision again and not getting on with my own projects.

      I’ll be excited to read about your adventure to and through grad school. In my heart of hearts I know I want it too but like you I’m waiting it out. You’re a smart girl you will do a marvelous job whatever you do. Plan A – clinical trainee embryologist program, if that fails Plan B – Reproductive Biology Masters at Imperial then reapply Plan A. I think we’ve done good to realise the importance of experience for our future instead of just relying on our bits of academic paper – go us!

  2. For me, home is more about Me than Where. If I can be Comfortable there. If I can sleep, wear my super skimpy or super frumpy clothes without worry, and just Relax… it’s home. If I feel on guard, then it’s not. I can call a hotel room home if I’m staying for more than a night. Home isn’t about your things on the walls, it’s about how you feel when you’re there.

    Though being able to finally put that shade of paint You want one Your wall…. there’s just something that makes that space Really Yours.

    • I love your perspective, and it’s all so true.
      The not ‘being on show’ feeling is a big deal for me, I need to feel like I can be myself in all my colours! And no one is going to give me any grief if I’m feeling a particularly ugly colour.

      When I lived with my parents something else that made it stand out as home was TEA, very British but it’s always been part of the routine. Guaranteed cup of tea in the morning and when I got home from school and lots of chatter about each others day. Good times.

  3. It’s funny for me to read this right now because I’ve been struggling with the same thing, though from quite the opposite perspective. The first half of my 20’s was spent frequently on the move, frequently under a different roof, frequently surrounded by different faces. College, travels, summers away. All that.

    But then, life took me back “home”, to the house where I grew up. I’ve spent a bit of time these past weeks searching the soul for which winds to let take me next. But all I am certain about is that “home” is not home. Not anymore, anyway. I don’t belong here. But what makes it so hard is that, this place WANTS me to belong; it tugs my hand when I talk about turning away. Am I being selfish? Am I running away? I don’t think so. But I know that if home isn’t where it used to be, it’s gotta be out there somewhere, looking for me too.

    Until you find yours, I hope you treasure the little pieces of home where you can, because as you kind of alluded to – they are all over the place.

    If I were to write about this on my blog (and I probably will sooner or later), I’d use the song “I Must Belong Somewhere” by Bright Eyes to punctuate it 🙂

    • I found that – being back with my parents for 3 months, even what I thought was home in my mind no longer was.

      Treasure it I shall and maybe somewhere will force me to put down roots.

      Hope we both find a little place to belong 🙂
      ‘Everything, it must belong somewhere
      I know that now, that’s why I’m staying here’.

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