How To Find Where You Belong

Business people cheering in office
Business people cheering in office

It sounds like a cliché, but many people ask themselves this question: "Where do I belong?" And when I say that, I don't just mean geographically, although that is certainly one way which I'll discuss later. But I also mean what kind of group do you belong with, what kind of job do you fit with, or what kinds of activities really resonate with you.

I just read an article today about "White Privilege." I teach a Race, Class, & Gender class at the university level, and so I am quite familiar with the concept of white privilege. In a nutshell, it means that white people are inherently more privileged in society simply because of their skin color. And many of us don't even know it.

For example, most white people haven't had the experience of being followed around in a store because the employees think they are going to steal something. And they can find a band-aid that matches their skin color all the time. It's basically saying that your race doesn't work against you - but rather for you.

Some of the literature I've read that has been written by African-Americans really drive home this concept. And many of the bi-racial people feel as if they don't belong in either the white or the African American community.

Beyond race, how do you know if you belong in your job? Or with a certain group of people? Or your partner? Or even if you're in the right town to grow your business?

Here's an example. I have a friend who was doing very well in a network marketing business. But after a while, she felt like she grew as much as she could in her city. Her intuition was telling her that she didn't belong there anymore and she felt that she should move her business. So she did her research, and finally found the perfect town to settle so she can continue her entrepreneurial efforts.

I know how it feels, because I've even tried some entrepreneurial things like house flipping. I like watching those HGTV shows, so it looked like it'd be fun to flip a house myself. Well, let me tell you that I was not born to be a house-flipper. It went just as wrong as some of those disasters you see on TV.

Beyond my business decisions, I've also dated the wrong people. And it took me a while to even realize this! Something always felt a bit "off," but I guess either I ignored that feeling or I didn't notice it. I've even felt that way with some so-called friends. Something about them didn't just "click" with me, and it didn't feel right.

But all of the times that I have felt like I have not "fit" have taught me something. It has taught me where I do not belong. And that is just as valuable - because you ultimately figure out where you DO belong from figuring out where you don't.

I think it all comes down to a balance between your head and your heart. I have written about this before, mostly because I have gotten it wrong in the past. I have ignored the red flags I've seen in both my personal and professional lives. If something felt really, really, good, sometimes I didn't think logically about it. If something logically made sense, I would sometimes ignore the pit-in-my-stomach feel. Neither is good.

There seems to be two kinds of people. First, you have the type that think intuition is nothing but fantasy and is on the same level as fairies and unicorns. So they live their lives completely with their logical, rational side. And then you have the other kind of people who are intensely sensitive and "wear their hearts on their sleeves." And these people let their emotions rule their lives.

I don't think either extreme is good.

I think that in order for you to find where you belong, you have to have a combination of both. I like to use the metaphor of "who's in the driver's seat? Your logical side or your emotional/intuitive side?" I think in order to make the best decisions you have to take turns letting both of them drive.

So if you feel like you're having a hard time finding out where you belong, just know that you are not alone. Everyone feels that way. But the key is to pay attention and try to figure it out. Use both sides of you to figure out what is best. In other words, what makes sense but also feels right at the same time? As long as you approach life with these questions in mind, you will be just fine.