Belonging

Ever since I was a little girl I have had the sense I did not fit in. I was left out at school, often ate alone. I felt misunderstood. Growing up I acquainted it with our family living on a ranch outside of town. I grew up alongside the college students who worked there. Maybe that was why I never really fit with kids my age – I realized the world was bigger than the season we were in.

Listening to a podcast recently, I heard another 5 on the enneagram describe the first time she realized she was being left out. She talked about her desire for belonging. 

“I’ve never met a five who struggles with belonging,” the host said.
“Really?” I said aloud as I ran down the street.

I feel like belonging has been the central quest of my life! 

For the longest time, I thought I was defective. There must be something wrong with me. Some component for having relationships got skipped when I was put together. I told myself it was because I was not enough of what was needed, and too much of what “good girls” were not supposed to be. 

I have struggled my whole life feeling out of place in almost every room I am in. 

If that isn’t the opposite of belonging, I do not know what is. 

Side note: for those who don’t know, the enneagram is this incredible gift that looks at how we see the world and why. Everyone falls into one of nine numbers. It is not based on personality, but how you operate internally. It’s nine ways of seeing and being in the world. I encourage you to look into it more. (Here are some links 1, 2, 3)

Side Note II: I am a 5 (wing 4) on the Enneagram. The Investigator or Observer. I operate from my head (vs. heart or gut) and put an incredibly high premium on knowledge. I am analytical, hate small talk, long for authenticity, and yet deeply fear that I do not have enough to show up in the world like I want to. I often come across as quiet, innocent, or standoffish – but there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

This pain and isolation followed me into college. I had friends, but most of my “good friendships” deepened after graduating. I spent the time between school years wondering who I was going to live with. Why, again, I had somehow missed what came so natural to everyone else. 

I long to be included and yet have no idea how to get in. I know who I am and refuse to compromise, and yet it leaves me feeling outside almost all the time. 5s spend a lot of time in their head. We have what I call a delayed response mechanism where we can go through things and the emotions hit us a week later. For that reason, it’s hard for me to trust when I feel joy or believe good things will last because I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I protect my emotions in almost everything. This leaves me one foot outside of friendships. And because I fear not being enough, I pull away from people instead of leaning in. 

For any “aware” 5 – I do not get how our personality would not intrinsically lend itself to chasing belonging.

I have always been very aware of being left out and missing out. It hasn’t been until the last year or more that I have come to realize I am not overlooked because of something intrinsically wrong with me. 

But it is hard. I am a strong introvert (so is my husband). We struggle making friends. I can lead a Bible study and yet fail to connect with anyone there. I make friends at my jobs. But there seems to be a line I cannot get over. There is a point where all of those friendships stop. We are friends 9-5 or Tuesdays from 9-10:30. I still have no idea how to belong outside of those set hours.

Why tell you all this? It’s not for pity or to make you reach out. The work to connect is on me. I have to combat the lie of scarcity when it comes to what I can provide in relationships. 

Being introverted is grossly overlooked in our society. I had someone tell me she wanted to hug introverts because we obviously didn’t get enough love as children. As if that explains why we don’t like small talk, prefer to get alone, are thought-filled, and think before we speak (or don’t speak if we have nothing meaningful to add). It could not be that we are perfectly normal and have something necessary to bring to the table. That, perhaps, we are the yang to the yen of our overly “me” obsessed, always connected without real connection, just pontificate even if you have no idea what you’re talking about, society. 

The desire to belong, to find my tribe in the world, will not come if I have to deny, “fix,” or leave behind every aspect of who I am. The desire to belong stems from wanting to show up in the fullness of who I am and be respected and loved for that person. 

More to come on life as a five and how we show up in the world. 

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