Stories of Belonging - Rachel

Last month professional story catcher Kirsten Fogg gathered stories of belonging at our Big Day of Belonging event. Over the coming weeks, we will feature these stories on SLQ Today.

Rachel: on the merits of not belonging

I find the concept of belonging really interesting. I recently moved here from New Zealand and I often get people asking me where I’m from. I find it really hard to answer because I’ve lived all over New Zealand. I grew up in the Manawatu in the central North Island, but my parents were share-milking dairy farmers so we tended to shift every three years when the contract finished. We lived in the South Island too, which is a different sort of culture, and as an adult I’ve lived in many different cities around New Zealand. Having the family well spread out and growing up in different areas as well, I feel like I’ve put down roots all over the country.

And I think the roots stay there in those different places. You just move on to a different stage of your life. So I think of my childhood as being in the Manawatu, then my teenage years around Christchurch. As an adult, I’ve chosen places to be and I’ve made ‘families’ in each area.

I found it harder when I was younger, because I would feel like I had a place and belonging and then we’d move and I’d be confused and wonder who I was as a person because I associated a lot of my personality with where I was and who I was with. As an adult, I realized this is part of who I am: I’m someone who is happy being in different places. And this became part of my personality.

How do people react to you when you discuss this with them?

I’ve certainly met a lot of people who’ve had similar circumstances and who are more understanding that my home is where I decide to make it and that I can have more than one home. But some people almost find it confusing. If they’ve grown up in the same place, they’re really surprised that I’ve chosen to move away from family and they think it must be really hard. They don’t see the sense of adventure or the opportunity that comes with it and with meeting new people.

I think belonging is just a state of being comfortable so it’s not necessarily a physical place. You can belong in a group of people and you can find that type of group all over the world and you often end up with that type of person even though it’s in a different city or a different place, you’re still in your comfortable place because you’re still with like-minded people or similar-experienced people.

I’ve been in Australia and in Brisbane for six months so part of my belonging is me getting comfortable with a home itself, me setting up a nice happy little home, finding local things that I can start to recognize as my favourite local places. Finding the little niches I enjoy going to and the people I meet along the way will become part of my little tribe.

Belonging anchors you and it gives you a bit more direction. But it’s nice to feel you’re free and just going about doing what you want to do.

I think not belonging for a time is a positive in some ways because you get a chance to think outside the box of what you’re used to thinking. You get to look at things a bit differently. I think as humans we’re always going to want to belong.

Writer Out Of Residence & Pop Up Story Catcher

www.writeroutofresidence.com

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