The High Cost of Belonging
I’ve always found myself on the periphery of the cool crowd. Thematically, over my lifetime, whether it’s been my family, sorority, or single hood, I recognize that my collection of close friends has no core, and yet, I always find myself searching for that perfect close knit group of friends. Watching the Big Chill or St. Elmo’s Fire makes me weepy for this very reason. So when I found myself outside my group of core friends after a late-in-life third pregnancy and add to that a disagreeable relationship between my child and one of the women’s, I found myself sad that once again, I was on the outside of a tight knit crew. Not sure whether my friends were making plans without us (where were they all summer, after all?), I was happy in a way to be without the pressure of being confined by a group. There is a cost to belonging.
In a sense, this summer, my husband and I rediscovered our family. We put a lot of friendships and socializing on hold, choosing to pursue our individual passions, and opting out of the few events we were invited to. We lost a babysitter and had several plans canceled. We realized, quietly, amongst ourselves, that we much preferred watching our three children performing their shows in the evenings, than having a glass of red with couple friends. This, dear readers, was a quietly transformative experience for myself and my husband. We were not sure about the first or second or third in our lives. We just went for it, bet it all on black, and prayed for the best. We now feel like our hearts are at maximum capacity. With our three little creatures, made out of love and air, we’ve created our own little circle. Last weekend, after leaving yet another party frustrated with my social interactions, I began to replace the pictures of the friends in my imagination with pictures of my family. One by one, my anxieties that I would never find myself on the inside again, dissipated. For once, I’m in a circle that feels like its made entirely for me.