There are those out there who feel the need to “join.” Join fraternities and sororities, civic organizations and clubs, professional associations, and social networks. I am not one of those people. In fact, I have always protested having to join any of those groups. I’ve been told repeatedly that I must embrace social media if I plan to stay connected, and I find myself envisioning how nice it would be not to be connected.
I sound horrible, don’t I? The reality is that I am very connected… with the people currently in my life. I build connections with the people who have children in my school, with the staff at the school, and with the students themselves. That alone gives me over three hundred connections any given year. I cannot imagine where I would fit connections with Facebook friends in all of that! My “group” is my family. You can imagine that there are built in problems in working with your husband, father, and mother daily. But we’ve worked many of the bugs out, and they, along with my kids and their loved ones, are the “group” with which I choose to spend holidays and down time.
Often gifted high school students will complain of loneliness, even while enjoying popularity among peers. I have shared with them that gifted often feel lonely because we strive to be unique, and then we are surprised that no one else is like us! To lose the feeling of loneliness, we have to cultivate groupings. We have to leave our comfort zone and make ourselves interact. Many gifted feel like peers are less intelligent… even if those peers are also gifted. It’s definitely a fault. My favorite example is Scar from The Lion King. Remember? He said that he was surrounded by idiots. But when he became in charge, to whom did he give the power? The idiots (the hyenas he had called idiots). Many gifted are not the type of friends most would seek.
When we have found the “group” that lies within our comfort zone, and there are many out there if we’ll just look, then we can stop seeking and just “be” in a group that loves us in spite of our need to be right… and in control… and, did I mention right?
Because I have not engaged whenever possible, I do not always understand the need to belong to a group. College was fun, but it was only the door through which I must pass to get to my job. And I ran through that door, finishing in three-and-a-half years. My daughter has one-upped me by finishing her bachelors and masters in four years! We share an equally strong desire to be in the job for which we’ve trained.
I have to be careful, though, not to judge “joiners.” People join to feel a part of something bigger… to gain identity. My identity comes through Christ, and that is sufficient for me. But even within the grouping of “Christian,” I find myself trying to put some distance between the group and me. We talk about how wide a brush the term “Muslim” is painted with… that not all Muslims are radical Islamists. But the paintbrush for the term “Christian” is just as wide, and I fight against sweeping generalizations constantly.
I digress. I do not begrudge anyone his groupings. Belonging to a group meets one of our basic needs, and that is the desire to be needed. I love the way one synopsis of the movie Babe puts it: "in an attempt to justify his existence…" Is that not what we do every day? We try to prove we’re supposed to be here… we have purpose. And then those of us lucky enough to successfully prove why we exist spend the rest of our time trying to make sure the proof is recorded and extended beyond our lives!
The grouping I have found rests within my comfort zone, walks beside me in purpose, and includes my living legacy… my children. My wish for you in the new year is that you, too, find the grouping(s) your heart desires.