Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe

I’m a loner. I’m not alone, I’m not lonely – just a loner.
But when I find my people, I am one with them and of them.

Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always wanted to belong. I ache to belong, to find my place. Outside of my family, this has been so difficult. In Real Life, except for inside my own four walls, I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere. For a long time, for many years this saddened me. I spent my early adult years longing for an attachment outside of my family and this yearning crushed me.

An introvert by nature with severe social anxiety meant close friends would always be hard to find and maintain. I held back, fearful of pushing myself where I wasn’t wanted, or of people leaving. I developed the skills of being a loner. I knew I could always trust myself, so my own company became comfortable, along with the close companionship of my husband and children. The only place I belonged was with them.

I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists. One where my heart is full. My body loved. And my soul understood - Melissa Cox - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I used to be lonely in real life, but I lost myself in writing, in creating worlds and characters, and with each word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I became a fulfilled loner. I value my time alone, as much as I adore my time out with my family. I relish time to sit and be me, as much as I love sitting in a coffee shop with one of my children. I jealously guard my own time.

But this doesn’t mean I’m antisocial, or adverse to friendships. In real life I have, maybe three people, outside my own family, who I feel I could go for a hot chocolate with and chat when I need to. And this is okay, because the pressure to physically socialise doesn’t weigh me down. I can still develop real life friendships.

Heathens - Twenty Øne PilØts - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I often hear that technology has ruined communication, or made us lazy, or stopped us from developing relationships. You’ll never find me blaming tech when it has exponentially enhanced my life in so many ways! As a loner with social anxiety I avoid social events and activities as much as I can. Tech doesn’t change that. That’s who I am. If I was a gregarious extrovert, I might be out partying, but I’m not, so, much of my social life is technological. I socialise online.

People talk with frowns of teens being glued to their phones and not getting out and enjoying themselves. Have you ever stopped to discover that the extroverts are still actually out having fun in person with their friends – they never stopped doing that – and the introverts with their noses stuck to their phones are also conversing, messaging, laughing, and sharing and having fun with their friends? Some love to go out and watch a movie with mates then go for a drink afterwards. Others are watching movies in sync on Netflix with their friends in other countries or towns then chatting about it after in the comfort of their own homes. We are perhaps, via tech, the most sociable and informed society ever!

I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see - Douglas Pagels - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I discovered my people on social media. My friends, my tribe, are right there at my fingertips whenever I need them. They span my own country, they live in Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and they live further afield – in the US, Canada, Australia, Israel, Europe, and in many other places. They are moments away from me when I need a virtual hug (I get plenty of real ones at home), advice, laughter, news, deep conversation, superficial conversation, and best of all – love.

They love me for who I am, I don’t need to fit into their schedule, we don’t need to answer private messages immediately, tech offers us relationships with people we’d never have discovered at home without it.

Social media is not perfect, but it helped me belong. It helped this loner discover a plethora of like-minded people, of people with differences, people who disagree with me but love me anyway, people who have time for me. I know some of these people in real life, some I will never meet, but they all have a place in my heart. And I am never lonely.

true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world - Brene Brown - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you belong?
Are you happy with your place in life and who you are?

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4 thoughts on “Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe

  1. Miranda Kate 💜 (@PurpleQueenNL)

    I agree with you on one level about tech/social media helping to create friendships (and sustain them), but I also see it as destructive to those growing up with it and NEVER learning the skills to socialise. My eldest is desperate for friends, but he doesn’t realise he won’t find someone to go with him to the movies on some random whatsapp group of strangers where he gets kicked out for talking too much. He also doesn’t learn what is proper socialise behaviour in these groups. You were older & able to understand that you can take it or leave it, the present generation growing up with it, don’t.

    Your children, (I am imagining here) were aided in their socialisation by your church going and interaction. Mormon communities are strong and usually quite open (in my experience). But for some who aren’t brought into a community (I am thinking of my son here) either by a parent or by neighbourhood friends (due to not schooling in the local community – ie our village), still remain on the outside, and if they are glued to their electronics and don’t go out and attempt to socialise when the opportunity arises, they never learn the skills. Irrespective of introvert or not, you still know how to socialise, even if you struggle with it.

    And then there is the whole not knowing how to function without their electronics which I have in my house! *sigh* There is nothing quite like human, one to one, face to face, interaction. I miss that as I have isolated myself. I am not a natural introvert. I am an ambivert.

    I also URGE you to read Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown, which is all about finding True Belonging. (think I might have already suggested it to you) It really helps understand this sort of stuff.

    But a great post as always.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

      You make some very important points, Miranda, and I do agree. Social skills do need to be learned. I wish I knew the answer.

      Sadly, the church community my kids grew up in wasn’t as supportive as hoped. My daughters have found it even harder and drew away from and left the community, it can be very judgmental if you don’t fit, or don’t desire to fit. They talk the talk about being inclusive, but I and my girls have never felt so excluded. When you find your kids ostracised in the same way school playgrounds do it’s very hard to come back from that. My son has had the opposite experience though. He doesn’t see himself as extrovert, but he socialises easily and loves company. The supportiveness works wonders for some people, and if you’re one of those ‘lucky’ ones, then great, but if not, it’s very superficial.
      I have some lovely friends in the church community, but I find it overwhelming and oppressive, some of that may be my mental state talking right now, but it’s not easy, There’s too much expected of you.

      My youngest lives her social life through her device. Maybe because we’re such a close knit family, we have always socialised together, movies, coffee shops, shopping etc, so we enjoy our own company. I do sometimes feel I’ve failed them by not purposefully encouraging a more active outside social life, and they’ve probably picked up cues from me too.
      You’re right that age does have an effect on this tech thing. I can live with or without, and I’ve chosen to live the way I do (to a degree). Maybe schools should work more with healthy device use? Not sure, but I do know our children’s children are going to be living very different lives to them and us in their tech future…

      Reply
      1. Miranda Kate 💜 (@PurpleQueenNL)

        I’m sorry to hear that is your experience with your church. Sadly I do hear that often. But a Mormon friend here has a strong support system – although as you say, they are very involved and key people within it.

        I too blame myself for my son’s lack of ability or opportunity to socialise. I didn’t integrate well here and he has taken on too much of my perspective. But he does feel close to me and that he has something in common with me, and he does talk to me about how lonely he feels, so I try and support him as best I can – and advise him. He is about to go up to secondary education – out of special needs (small classes, extra support) into mainstream, which is a very stressful time for him as an autistic child, but I also let him know that he has greater opportunities to find more friends (I don’t dare think about the opposite and don’t say it to him!). But as parents we can only do so much.

        On the flip side my youngest son does go out and play and does socialise. It has been helped by him remaining in the village school for a couple more years than his brother, so establishing friendships, and him playing football here in the village. They are all different personalities. Wee can only do our best.

        Generally I think there are a lot of people that feel they live outside and on the edge of things. But I am not sure if social media is helping or hindering. In some ways it’s a double edged sword. But either way, we need to understand that we only need to belong to ourselves, however hard that is to achieve.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

          The church is easy if it is your complete lifestyle and you’re totally involved. If you’re on the edge, not so easy. Some of it is me just not being comfortable with everything and so much expected of each member.
          Anyway, hopefully your son will find it easier in secondary school. Mine did, he found his closest friends once he’d moved up. Primary school was really hard. We can’t blame ourselves though, there are so many factors in being able to make friends. I was just never very good at it! lol.

          Reply

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