by Srishti Sharma
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
Belongingness is such an irreducible human need. According to Abraham Maslow, after the physiological and safety needs of an individual are met, he or she desires to form associations and seeks to belong somewhere or to someone. There is a strong natural desire to be accepted by family, friends, peers, community etc. Individuals form relationships with people around, with things around and with their social environments. People are always scared to dissolve the bond that they form and once the bond is broken, it causes great amount of damage. Breaking off an attachment causes pain that is deeply rooted in the need to belong. And even though Dunbar limits the number of people with whom we can maintain stable relationships to 150, on a deeper level there is always a need to make more and more connections; connections not only to people but to places.
Being born and brought up in a particular place doesn’t necessarily make you belong there. Physically spending few or many years may not lead to forming an association to that place or in establishing a sense of belonging. Then what does it take to belong to a place? How long does it take to become native to a place? Does moving to a new place help us belong? We were faced with these questions in Prof. Manwelyan ‘s class. Answers to these are not easy to find. We enter a new landscape in hope of finding ourselves and to feel a sense of belonging. We take along our own culture, language, religion, beliefs and experiences to the new place and try to embrace the new that awaits. Challenging as it might be, the new place definitely brings in a lot of excitement at first as you have left behind all that bothered you and are now exploring all that is different. As the time passes by, the new is no longer new. The excitement wearies out. You start questioning yourself whether you belong to this new place that at first seemed very exhilarating.
We are all lost in the metaphor of our own experiences. We leave behind the known, the problematic and move towards the glorious, a possible respite. We migrate to a new land in search of better opportunities, to evade discrimination, to find a safe haven, to feel free, to avoid bitter family experiences, to heal from past traumas or to start afresh. But, a lot is lost as everyone is vying for dominance. It’s rare that one gets completely accepted by the new world even though the individual changes the way he/she acts, behaves and expresses. Torn between the old and the new, we find ourselves nowhere. We cannot completely relate to either the new or something that was our past. We never find home. We never find just one home. There are a thousand different places we call home, full of crowds of strangers that enter our life and experiences that fill and shape it. One day we will find where we belong, one day we will be home.