Deepen Your Connections and Sense of Belonging

We’re more connected than ever, yet often feel disconnected from others. Here’s how to cultivate belonging.

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I didn’t fit in at my high school. I yearned for the admiration and embrace of my classmates, but always felt different and distant from them. Among my desperate attempts to fit in was the time I showed up to prom in a dress I hoped would bring me my Cinderella moment, when I would finally feel that I could hang with the cool kids. The reality? The same old me in a monstrosity of wispy mint that left me embarrassed and more alienated than ever. Would I ever belong?

Belonging is complicated. There are many places we can find belonging, that feeling of identifying with and being part of a group that’s bigger than we are: families, clubs, ethnicities, secret societies, political parties, and football teams, to name a few. Feeling that we are part of a wider group can give purpose and meaning to our lives, and research suggests that belonging to a community correlates to better mental and physical health. But even if your sense of belonging is strong in some arenas (say, your book club), what happens when you wind up in a place where you don’t feel you belong (such as, say, your job)?

Today,…

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