Are you seeking to belong?

All my life I never truly felt that I belonged. I always felt different. Yes, I am adopted from Sri Lanka and with my dark brown eyes, dark brown hair and olive skin I stood out from all the pale-skinned, blue-eyed and blond Swedes when growing up.   

But it was more than that. 

At the age of 10, my family and I moved away from my childhood village outside a town called Enköping down to Sweden's third largest city, Malmö. It was really at that time that my awareness around myself made me feel uncomfortable with the way I looked. Black tiny hair had started to emerge above my upper lip, making it look like a mustasch. I hated it. It made me feel ashamed. So I cut it in secret. But it only grew out thicker and more intense. And at my new school, kids weren't that nice... And you probably already guessed it!... Yes, they bullied me for it. A girl with a mustasch, and that was me. I didn't feel I belonged neither in my surrounding or with myself. 

I changed schools another 2 times during my teenage years, and there were always kids who were mean. It impacted me in the way that my self-esteem decreased. And I was shy too. I wish I could have been one of the popular kids, like when I was in primary school, but I didn't dare to stand out, speak up or stand for who I was. I didn't feel like I belonged. 

By 16, I had told my mom about my agony and sadness for my "mustasch" and one day as I came home from school, she said: "We can go to a salong and you can get those upper lip hairs vaxed off". I still remember that day. The beautician put too much wax on and when she pulled, she didn't get a good grip so it was SO painful. But the result was WONDERFUL.

The following days, I blossomed. And one of the boys who had been teasing me some years earlier, actually picked up an interest for me and asked me out. I said yes. I don't know why. Maybe because finally I could belong. 

Our relationship lasted a week, tops, if I remember correctly. Lol. But I wasn't sad when he said that he didn't want to be together. In fact, I was happy that I finally had had my first kiss. Now I was no longer going to be the ugly duckling. No more mustasch ever again :). 

This is just a section of my life. 

I actually can't believe I feel confident about sharing this. I've never shared it. I might have told two people in my entire life about why I was bullied as a kid. And that did not feel comfortable for me. 

But now I feel like I belong. And so it isn't hard to share this anymore.

From the age of 18, after I left the Emirates, I've lived all over; London, Dubai, Luleå (north of Sweden), Brisbane (Australia), Uppsala, Cuba, Barcelona, back to Dubai, Malmö and now Lund. 

You might wonder why I have lived in all these places? 

My first answer would be, because I studied in these places which was a good way to get around and see the world. 

But that's not the whole truth... In my early 20's I think I was chasing for something. To belong. To get it right "this time". I might have even thought that the grass "is greener on the other side". But it wasn't – I went through the SAME patterns, just in a different place, with different people. 

Today I am 32 and have been living back home, here in Sweden for the past five and a half years – which is a record of any place I've lived since my childhood below the age of 10. I might not feel that I completely belong here in the cold and with not having any of the close friends that I made along life's journey so far. And being a highly sensitive person makes one always feel a bit different in our "extrovert society".  

BUT belonging isn't about an external place. That's what my experience has taught me. 

BELONGING has to do with LOVE. 

Loving yourself makes you belong – you belong with yourself. When you do that, then you can stand firm and steady in your soul even when the outside conditions are shaky. 

Second, receiving and giving unconditional true LOVE, such as in a positive, romantic relationship fills your heart and soul with love and thus gives you a strong sense of belonging. 

But that person could wake up one day and decide to leave the relationship and that would rob you of your feeling of belonging – you'd feel lost. So, remember: seek to find belonging through love in and towards yourself, then no external factor or person can leave you feeling lost in the world.  

Love & Light, 

Sujatha Elena. 


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