Why Does Belonging Matter to Me?
I’ve written extensively about how belonging is the solution to the great resignation (also known as quiet quitting, lying flat, etc.) and how belonging is the antidote to America’s loneliness epidemic. But I’ve never discussed why, out of all the things I could be doing after my company’s sale, this is the topic nearest and dearest to my heart.
Like most of our deepest needs, my need to belong comes from my childhood trauma. More specifically, being adopted. I was two days old when I was given up for adoption. I was adopted at five days old by my mom, Roni, who had been waiting to have kids–first naturally then by waiting on the adoption list for a total of 8 years.
Adoption is referred to as a primal wound by Nancy Verrier, a therapist specializing in adoption and separation research. She says that there is an indelible impact when the connection between a child and its biological mother is severed. The experience can manifest as a devastating loss, with impacts felt years into the future.
I never realized that all the times I was trying to start something–from starting a clubhouse as a young boy to building a company–were really attempts at finding belonging.
Other adoptees on Reddit seem to share my sentiment:
I have always been a big joiner - sorority in college, a big club-like theater group afterwards, local political party, etc... Some of my friends look down their nose at "joiners", but these are usually were the folks who came from big strong families, and didn't feel they needed that sort of support. (u/Patiod)
I have always gravitated to culture-rich organizations for work, and joined very specific cultural groups as a teen. Unpacking it after coming out of the fog, it’s clear that I like being where it’s easy for me to identify who I need to be and how I need to act in order to fit in. (u/CountTheFrogs)
The hurt and anger I suffered from my “primal wound” has made me yearn for answers to questions around belonging: Where do I belong? Who are my people?
A desire to belong is not unique to me; our need to belong is innate and some search for belonging in perpetuity. When you find belonging, things feel right and in order. This is why I’m committed to helping others find a sense of belonging.