I remember how I would try to fit in my first year of high school. I was coming from a middle school where I didn’t really fit in. I had my own group of friends but was never was fully accepted by the other students so I never felt like I belonged there. I went to SLA because I wanted a fresh start. No one else from my middle school came to SLA with me and I thought that a new environment and new people would allow me to find exactly who I was. That I would suddenly have a sense of belonging finally but when I finally got to high school I was completely wrong. For the first few months I didn’t really know who was my friends. I didn’t feel like I belonged with any group. I remember the first day of school. I walked in and I already saw groups forming. I was scared out of my mind because I thought that I wasn’t going to fit in with any group. It wasn’t until the spring of my freshman year that I finally felt some type of belonging. I was part of the varsity baseball team and we were a family. When you are part of a family you always want the best for the other members. That’s what members of the baseball team wanted for each other. We all knew our common goal was a championship so when we stepped onto the field we gave 120% effort to each other. We wanted the best for each other and we knew what we had to give to acheive that best. This family feeling I got from the team gave me the feeling of belong I wanted for months.
So why do teenagers need to have a sense of belonging, especially teenagers in high school? Amanda Enayati, who wrote a special to CNN called The importance of belongingsaid “Because as humans, we need to belong. To one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and country, to our world. Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.” Karyn Hall who has a Ph.D in Psychology wrote “Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions.” As teenagers we can have so many different factors stress us out. School, family and relationships are just some of the many things that can stress us out. With these stress factors it can feel like the world is against us and we can have no one to talk to. For some these feelings like depression can bring them to the point of killing themselves. According to kidshealth.org 1 in 8 teens could suffer from depression. That is why we want to belong somewhere. So that we can have people we can talk to. So that we can have some to vent to about all the problems that we are facing in everyday life.
We see wanting to belong in the media everyday. Since we are surrounded by this all the time we are influenced by it. In every movie about teens and high school there is an “in” group and there is an “out” group and the main protagonist is always trying to get in the “in” group. Or on Twitter or Instagram. We see stuff like #squadgoals, #bestfriendgoals or #relationshipgoals. Dancing, Singing, or doing any type of activity, these people have found someone or someones who they can identify with others. Someone they can have fun with or be silly with
So how can teenagers find belonging? First, they should find what they are passionate about. When they find that thing they should find people who are passionate about the same thing. That is what happened to me. I love baseball. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t love baseball. I remember Saturday mornings as a little kid and my dad would toss me wiffle balls and I would hit them over our garage. Baseball was part of my identity and it made me who I was. When I came to high school that is how I found where I belonged. I joined the baseball team and I became friends with people who loved to play the same game as me.
Teenagers. The teenage years can be filled with ups and downs especially for my generation. The little things now are big things and the big things become bigger things. In this time of tweeting and snapchatting it is important to us to have a sense of belonging. It can be to someone or a group. This can be balance to our lives and allow to to express who we really are. They can help us find our identity and who we are meant to be in the future.
"Understanding Depression." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Ed. Arcy Lyness. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/understanding_depression.html>.
Hall, Karyn. "Create A Sense of Belonging." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201403/create-sense-belonging>.
Enayati, Amanda. "The Importance of Belonging - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 1 June 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/health/enayati-importance-of-belonging/>.
Dokmanovic, Greer. "The Importance of Belonging | Valuing Our Teenagers | The Kids Are All Right." The Kids Are All Right. N.p., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.thekidsareallright.com.au/2014/parenting/teenagers-children-belonging-valued/>.
Richards, Patti. "The Importance of Belonging in Teenagers."LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 17 May 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/1002787-importance-belonging-teenagers/>.