Column: We fight for a space where we are accepted


Photo credit: Marissa Gendy

I took this picture in the summer of 2020. Protests all over the nations ensued in response to the police brutality experienced by the Black community. This picture symbolizes the desire to belong in a society that continuously rejects you for your skin color, yet people have found support in others that feel, experience and fight for what they believe in.

By Marissa Gendy, Columnist

“Where do I belong?” This question, or another form of it, has circulated the mind of anyone struggling with their identity. A desire to find a place where you aren’t an outcast but rather celebrated.

According to Kendra Cherry, “A sense of belonging involves more than simply being acquainted with other people. It is instead centered on gaining acceptance, attention, and support from members of the group as well as providing the same attention to other members.” 

Belongingness is something that feeds our soul while simultaneously grabbing our bodies and teaching us our worth. It’s a place of communion, a place of seeking relationships and comfort. Our need for belongingness motivates physical and mental behaviors. I have seen it in myself. My need to express my masculine side and my athleticism is shown in the two sports I play. My desire to find people of the same race as me is the reason I join affinity spaces. 

This past summer, I attended many Black Lives Matter protests that changed my view on every notion I had concerning belongingness. I had never been a part of such a beautiful display of the crave for belongingness. I heard people cry out for a space where skin color didn’t dictate the opportunities they were given and the hardships they faced. I watched a new sense of belongingness bloom before my eyes and instill a different outlook in me. 

Our internal hunger for a place where our flaws, our personality and our expressions are enough, influences the actions and decisions we carry out. 

We search for a sense of belonging in those we surround ourselves with. We lean on others for happiness and affirmation in moments of weakness. When it feels like our world is crumbling beneath our feet, we find others to bask in and embrace our emotions — feel the pain and sadness we feel, the happiness and joy we feel. I look to my friends in both moments of need and moments of joy. I share details with those that accept me and understand what I feel. They are the place I feel I belong with. They ground me when my anxiety and my worryness takes over and when I need a place to vent. Sometimes the place I belong is with the people around me. 

To belong is to find a home. A home is not a wall of bricks, but the people that love and cherish us. A home is a place where the barrier for emotional expression and physical acceptance is breached. Your body, your skin, your soul and your mind are fully and wholly accepted. It’s the calm after a storm, when you are nothing but broken pieces and your people have collected and taped you back together. It’s noticing the fake smile you put on your face, as to not worry others. These are the people that make our lives special, that show us we belong, differences and all. 

If you are reading this and haven’t found your place, know that I was you. I was the kid that dreaded school because I sat with no one but a book. The kid no one checked up on and no one wanted to hang out with. That was until I began to reach out. I texted the girl in my math class and I told my advisor how I was feeling. Reaching out wasn’t an immediate solution but it was definitely the first step.

Belonging is being heard, seen and loved, a feeling I hope each person experiences.

So take the chance, reach out, find people that make you feel something whether that’s a friend, teacher, advisor or sibling. There are people in this world for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding them. It won’t be easy but in the end it’ll all be worth it.