I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes us feel like we belong. As a single person, it's often easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I need a significant other in order to not feel alone. That I just need to belong to one person, and that'll be enough. It's common that I find myself reflecting that "If I just had someone, I could…(fill in the blank)." But I've had to start speaking to myself sternly about this, because there is so much evidence in my own life that this idea is incorrect. There are so many other ways for us to belong: to our families, our co-workers, our friends; to theatre companies and sports teams and charities and churches. I think that if I choose to feel alone (which I admit, I do often), it is because I am not actively reaching out to those communities that I actually do belong to, saying, "I feel lonely," or "What are we up to tonight," "I could use some company," or, and probably more importantly, making things less about me: "How can I help?" "How are
doing?" "Can I pitch in somehow?"
It's tough sometimes, though. It's tough to always feel like I'm the only one to make the effort, that my social life is at the mercy of my much-more-important friends with spouses and/or families. It's easy to retreat into my own solitary world, look at my phone longingly to see if someone has texted or called, hunker down with Curriecat and commit myself dramatically to a solitary existence. This despite having wonderful friends, family and colleagues. I can't walk two blocks in my neighbourhood without bumping into a friend to say hello to.
So, yes - I realize that the only reason I feel like I don't belong is me. Because I do belong. I care about people and they care about me. And it's up to me to reach out and ask for what I need and to more importantly ask what I can give back.
I belong to this crazy, loving, sometimes infuriating family. As the only "out of towner," I forget that sometimes, and feel left out, but it only takes 5 minutes (and a matching apron) to remember.
Vancouver has some really great community events, including the Dragonboat Festival, which I've missed since I moved to London. I've decided next year I'll have to put a team together - I miss paddling. Yes, even early morning winter practices where your hands can barely hold the paddle, you're so cold. So it's definitely time to get back into it.
Events like Streetfood Fest really show that Vancouverites do have a desire for community, to get together and hang out. Every Sunday we bask on this little astroturf "beach," play pingpong, and line up 30-deep at the food trucks circled at Olympic Village.
Even when I'm alone, I'm not really. As I type this a grey cat is curled up with her tail on the computer screen.