Words Eiesha De La Cuesta
The waves crashed hard against the white sand, calling for her.
She grew up in a concrete jungle, surrounded by the secrets of the sea. The turquoise waters had become a place that she needed to revisit so that she could find herself. It was a place that she was most familiar with and held many vivid memories—the good and the bad. As she walked through the congested streets or swam in the clear waters, she lived for the joys that may seem inane to others or in the grander scheme of things. Still, therein lied a feeling of attachment, association, purpose and place of belonging. So, when she returned to the city, you could still see how the sun shone in her eyes, the wind blew in her hair, the sand between her toes and the salt on her tanned skin.
She had built a strong feeling of connection, influenced by a number of factors within her surroundings.
This connection may be better described as a sense of place and belonging—a term that identifies our human, emotional need to belong or connect to a group or community, surroundings, or environment. A sense of place refers to our emotional bond and attachment to a location or environment—whether that be our home or to our home country. On the other hand, a sense of belonging involves more than our association with other people, it consists of feeling acceptance, support, belonging and connection to people, whether that is within our family, friends, workplace or religious community. Both principles involve the human tendency and need to form an inherent desire to belong or attach to other people or places.
As we roam on our Mother Earth, we develop an instinctive need to belong. We are constantly looking for our purpose and meaning in each other, our work and interests and our surroundings. It could be something inside of us or out in the big world, but we search for something to claim as our own. We search long and hard for the security, safety, and comfort that a sense of place and belonging brings into our lives.
Without a sense of place or belonging, we can feel a sense of isolation and disconnection instead. We can feel alienated.
She used to feel lost.
She had built a life in every environment she was placed in; however, she felt little to no connection to the lifestyle and routine she had built. She lived in a beautiful and vast land, rightfully belonging to its traditional owners. She had friends, family, and studies there that grounded her and provided some purpose and meaning to her life. Yet, she still didn’t feel a strong sense of attachment or association to her surroundings. she would sometimes see people who shared the same skin colour as her, similar features, the same brand of clothes and enjoyed the same interests as her; yet, her connection to these people did not compare to being surrounded by the people at home. At home, there was much more than similar skin tones and features… She had found comfort in hearing her language, accent and values in others. She lived for the small customs, beliefs, and traditions that she had long forgotten but were still practised by many. She drank in the memories that she didn’t realise she had missed. So, although she lived abroad most of her life, she always held her thoughts of home.
We are all looking for a connection with people and places, whether that be within a personal, cultural, religious, historical or social context—some of us may have found it, lost it or are still searching for it. Sometimes, the thought and feeling of where to belong and who to belong with changes as time passes. But, one day, we will achieve that sense of place and belonging… one day, we’ll find an answer to the calling.