I Need to Belong

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Greetings bloggers,

Today I would like to discuss the need to belong. This "need" comes from our biological need to have interpersonal connections. We seek to socialize, and receive negative emotions when we can not. Stanley Schater's study showed us the people can not stand to be lonely (some quit the study just 20 minutes in!). Because being lonely brings so many negative emotions, us humans are met with this concept of needing to belong. People satisfy this need everyday. Social interaction is sought after by society.
The "need to belong" has played a role recently in my life. Coming in to college, I wanted to be very uninvolved so that I could optimize my academic performance. Shortly after arriving to college, and being uninvolved, I felt as though something was missing. Without even noticing that I was lonely, I quickly joined a few clubs to become involved in campus and boost my social interaction. This differed from my original goal. Joining clubs was going to hurt my academic performance, but my "need to belong" is stronger than my desire to do well in class. So, here I am today, as involved as ever, and I am not lonely for a second of the day. Have you bloggers had similar experiences since arriving to college?


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I agree that there is a very strong need for many people to belong. However I find myself often wanting some time alone. I did not join any clubs this year as I wanted to focus on my schoolwork and get a good base to move forward on. As the year has gone on and I have made friends I do go out on weekends and play some Frisbee or volleyball, however much of my time is still spent studying or just relaxing in my room. Therefore i believe that this 'need to belong' is more based on personality rather than a biological need that humans have.

This is a very interesting post, I have not really thought back to the start of school at all lately. Time has just seem to blow by, but now stopping to think about this question, I realize I had the same feeling. Coming to school here I knew only a hand full of people, and I was use to being on large teams or at school where you would know everyone. That was not the case here at the U. I did the same, first joining the Entrepreneurship Club, then a fraternity. Know it feels like some quiet time would be nice.

I completely agree with this post of yours. Like you, when I arrived at college I was not super worried about meeting as many people as I could, but instead focusing on my schoolwork. Now I regret that in some ways. I can recall people urging me to join a sorority in order to feel more intertwined into the U, however I kind of stereotyped them and felt joining one, wasn't for me. But as the year went on, I observed how much each of my friends enjoyed being apart of a sorority or frat, and felt as though I was missing out.

I think that the need to belong is an interesting topic if only because it varies so much from person to person. For example, there are people who cannot stand to be alone at all for any length of time and then there are people that not only can be alone, but sometimes prefer it. Obviously, everyone can feel lonely at some point, but what I don't understand is how come some people are so different like that, even people that are related. Perhaps, it has something to do with people who are more sure of who they are as a person because those people can feel good about themselves without someone else telling them that. I'm sure there are many things that go into it, but I think that could be one of the reasons.

This is a really interesting topic. I definitely agree with you about the "need to belong" coming into college, because i felt the exact same way. But unlike you at first, I didn't join any clubs or groups which I regretted after about one month. So after that, I immediately joined a sports team and a few clubs. I really enjoyed your blog post!

I happen to come from a low-class family, and I live within twenty minutes of campus. Therefore, the smartest decision for me would have been to live at home. I would have saved thousands of dollars each year. However, I decided to live in the dorms this year. Like you mentioned, I chose that the sense of belonging outweighed my financial needs. I now owe thousands of dollars just for housing, but the amount of friendships and connections that I have made this year were worth every penny. This year of college has probably been the best year of my life, and money can't buy happiness. I am satisfied with my decision.

Admittedly, I am quite introverted, which means I don't have a real pressing need to be around people so often. That isn't to say that I don't, because I enjoy people, just in small bursts. While I agree that everyone wants belong to something, I think that urge of belonging varies strongly from person to person.

Personally, I need to be surrounded by others quite often, even though I do enjoy my alone time once in awhile. Coming to college, I was not expecting to be alone and simply focusing on my schoolwork, although my schoolwork and grades are very important to me. My social life and surrounding myself by others that make me happy is also very important to me, as well as my personal health and sanity. I actually found myself being more alone and to myself first semester, not because I chose to be that way but because my schoolwork took over a little more than I had wanted it to and I needed to focus on it so I had a good start to my freshman year. Now that second semester is wrapping up, I have come to find that I spend much more time with people than I do by myself, even though I still have a lot of schoolwork and still expect to do just as well as I did when I was maybe a little more secluded first semester. I think it is healthier and more important to be around people than it is to sit alone and feel lonely, even if it means giving up some of that homework time and instead enjoying yourself, and others company once in awhile.

I know exactly what you mean. It doesn't necessarily seem like a need to belong to me but just a need for social interaction. I have many classes in which I don't have close friends in and they are very large lectures so by the end of the day, I have been to 3 lectures and hardly talked to anyone, and I just feel the need to socialize with friends for hours because it seems as if i've been isolated all day. If you look around campus though you will notice people's "need to belong." People that you thought you would be friends with in the beginning of the year join groups or frats because they want to "belong," but then they change completely. It's a weird world but in a way we are all the same.

I totally understand the need to belong. When I first started at the U it was hard because often I was lonely, for me though it was mostly during the school day that I felt this way. I decided to start sitting next to people in discussion courses that had voiced similar arguments as myself in different history courses I have taken which is my major. While I didn't expect to be anything else than just creating friends to talk with it became much more. My grades began to improve and I no longer was making excuses not to go to class. Belonging has made my college experience much more enjoyable.

While I do agree with you that the need to belong is based on a biological drive to create interpersonal connections I don't that it's the entire picture. I am the type of person who is perfectly content being alone for extended periods of time so that I can do things that I enjoy. I still really enjoy the company of others and love hanging out with my friends. A big part of it all is the social environment that our society has grown up in. I think that our generation has developed almost a craving for constant social interaction that isn't biologically present. With the non stop contact between calling, texting, facebook, skype, twitter, etc. I feel like it's almost impossible not to feel left out.

I agree completely with this blog. Another thing I have noticed is that the negative feedback is potentiated when looking through people's facebook photos from a party someone was not invited too. They feel worse that they see how much fun it was while they were stuck at home and a vicious cycle ensues of being down for not being inviting and then seeing the festivities online.

in the end, the most important thing one can do is be happy. if one spends all their time focusing on academics, then the need to fulfill social obligations will not be met. it's all about learning how to balance one's time to keep them running positively.

I think we all worry about that, as we all end up stretching ourselves so thin for time. I know I do anyway with woking 25 hours a week, volunteering, TAing a freshman seminar as well as taking a full credit load. However, it's getting involved and joining activities that keeps me sane and becomes something that's a fun outlet, not a chore.

I have definitely witnessed first hand some peoples need to belong. It seems like every time I am with my group of friends, I can always tell that there is one person who is unhappy with whatever the group is doing, but continues to do it because they feel the need to fit in. It does not affect me, however, because I am a pretty laid back guy who is happy to go along with whatever we are doing. But when I see a person doing something they obviously don't want to do, I wish they were more of an introvert so they wouldn't fear leaving the group and doing something that makes them happy.

I have gone through the same thing. At first I did not know what was going on. It was the first time in my life that I have had a single room, and at first I was thrilled about it. But not so long after I felt isolated and locked up. I noticed this about a lot of my neighbors too. I guess this is why we all started hanging in the hallways and socializing. Humans are very social creatures. I believe that we would not survive without others who provide support and encouragement.

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This page contains a single entry by nashx216 published on April 25, 2012 1:56 PM.

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