All About Belonging with Artie Carden

All about belonging is a blogger guest series – you guessed it – all about belonging. I have invited other bloggers to share their stories, thoughts, opinions, and ideas to do with the theme belonging here on Kate Lili Blog. I hope this guest series showcases the variety of views on belonging, and the many ways having or not having felt a sense of belonging has affected people’s individual life experience. Each new guest post will go out on Wednesdays at 6pm so stay tuned.

I am delighted to welcome Artie Carden as my first guest blogger for this series. Artie’s blog focuses on writing content for people who feel marginalised by mainstream media. Having personal experience of this is what motivates Artie to fill the gap. An absolutely perfect first guest blogger for a series all about belonging! This post about belonging takes a look at Artie’s experience of identifying as bisexual at school and what it felt like to find a home in the end at uni. Thanks Artie for getting in touch.

Belonging

belonging

I’ve always had a lot of friends, or more like acquaintances, in different groups. I have always been able to get on with all kinds of people, but is that really belonging?

In school, I knew these kids on a superficial level; I knew enough about them to keep up conversation and I’ve always been very good at making people laugh. I couldn’t really get along with their friends though… I had one or two friends per clique, and the others always looked at me with blank stares like I was an alien specimen or they’d make fun of me.

I would have my main group I’d normally hang out with, and I would get on with more of them than other groups. Really though, they weren’t very nice to me either. They told me I was annoying and a suck up and would stare me down if a joke didn’t land well. I can’t forget about the occasional body shaming and being bullied by them for not being sexually experienced (I was 14-15 at the time…). On top of all that, I’m bisexual. I learned this term because of this friendship group and am still a proud bisexual person almost 10 years later, so I have to thank them for that. It just involved more shaming from them.

Groups of Friends

The girls of the group all identified as bisexual and looking back I don’t think they did at all. It was a fashionable and edgy thing to be (and being a group of emo kids, you gotta be pretty edgy) and it was often used to seduce boys. It just made me feel more undesirable: how were these girls kissing boys and girls, and I wasn’t really kissing anyone?

I can hear you shouting at your screen ‘why didn’t you just leave?’ Well, that’s a lot more difficult to do than say. At this point in my life I was suffering with Severe Depression, I self-harmed and attempted to take my life more than once all because I felt completely alone. I’d been alienated in every group I’d gotten close to and felt like the communal punching bag to make people feel better by taking abuse. These other people I spoke to? I couldn’t tell them any of this, and with them I got to be someone else, someone who was funny and charming and a little ridiculous but friendly and fun.

I think the only way I survived this time of my life was getting to be someone else for periods of time. I thrived on stage and people loved me, but when I’d step off set I wasn’t liked anymore. I did eventually leave this group and remained friends with a few of them for a couple of years.

belonging

Mental Health

My biggest trigger for my mental health is feeling alone, like there’s no one I can go to for support, no one who will accept me for who I am.

Belonging, to me, is finding ‘your people’. These people learn who you really are behind the bravado. I had two people during school and neither were part of this group (surprise, surprise…) one of them I still see and speak to now 12 years later. They weren’t around a whole lot, but they were there when I needed someone.

Uni Friends

I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere until I went to university three years ago. I found my people whilst at university, my writer friends, my LGBT+ friends, my fun hilarious and brilliantly intelligent friends.

These people have seen me at my most incredible, my most vulnerable, in love, heartbroken, and they’ve seen me battle my mental health. They have listened to the ridiculous rants at 2am and have also told me when I’m in the wrong, which is super important because you know they aren’t pandering to you and they want you to thrive and better yourself!

It’s okay to struggle to find your place, we will have many places in our lives and sometimes it takes a while to find somewhere that feels like home. Hold on and take care of yourself first. If people don’t like you, then never mind. It hurts but you don’t need them. Your people will find you eventually.

~ Artie Carden

Read more of Artie’s blog at:  artiecarden.wordpress.com

Artie on Facebook: www.facebook.com/artiecarden

If you liked that, you will like this post about belonging too.

 

The Relationship Wrecker – Fitting in

Feeling a sense of belonging is a huge part of a fulfilled life. It’s also hugely underestimated. However, feeling belonging is not about fitting in, far from it. To truly connect with people and feel a sense of belonging, we must feel accepted for who we are first.

Connections

Opening up to another person and releasing our barriers is what bonds are made of. Think of your closest friendship or relationship and it is littered with vulnerable moments. Close friendships are very rarely plain sailing. You will have come through things together or supported each other at difficult times. There is one person at least who you feel really knows you. Who would know how you might react in any given situation, who has seen you at your best and possibly your worst and still loves you for who you are. These kinds of connections are what life is all about. These are the relationships that enrich our lives beyond measure and these are the relationships we should be prioritising.

Fitting in Belonging

Imagine now for a second those early days of this particular close relationship and imagine if you had held back certain aspects of your personality or character. Or they did. Do you think you would have the kind of connection you have now? Maybe you would and it just would have taken a longer time to get there, but maybe the opportunity would have passed you by.

In fact, I know in my marriage some of those early days of getting to know each other are still fondly referenced to in long running insider jokes we have with each other.

Superficial Friendships Serve Nobody

The magic of meeting someone and hitting it off immediately is fabulous, but rare. Most relationships, whether intimate or platonic need a certain element of work. Some of my best friendships have occurred with people who either I didn’t like when I first met or who didn’t like me!

Trying with a person is different to trying to fit in. When we try to fit in somewhere it is because we are feeling uncomfortable in ourselves. And once we present an altered version of ourselves to someone firstly it is a difficult barrier to drop later on, but most importantly, it prevents anyone else from getting to know the real us. This can equate to having quite a few superficial relationships and not so many real life enriching amazing connections.

We need to feel accepted in order to form true connections and those connections will lead to a sense of belonging. Don’t try to fit in with someone else’s idea of how you should be. There’s only one you and there’s a really good reason for that.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

― Dr. Seuss

Relationships and the Zombie Apocalypse

If you had a time machine what would be the first thing you would do? A knee jerk answer might be “win the lottery!” but if you really think about it, I bet the answer has something to do with relationships.

I really like zombie films, and anything post-apocalyptic based. Some of my favourites are The Walking Dead, Hunger Games, Legend and 28 Days Later. The premise fascinates me. In these films there is usually a small group of people on a search for other people. Part of it is to pool their resources but mainly they just need to find other people because, when you think about it, life is all about relationships.

friends

Friends

I was walking along a path beside a large field the other day and there was no-one else for miles around and I thought ‘Oh it’s like one of those films’. I thought how nice and quiet it was and yet if it was the apocalypse how much I would long to talk to another human being. No matter who they were, or how loud they chewed their food. We all know relationships are important .

family

Family

We all love our families and children and endeavour to continually pay into those relationships. We have close friends, and acquaintances and now even people on Facebook who will walk straight past you in the street but like your status online (what’s that about?!) but I got to thinking about how *all* of life is about relationships. Even the little polite conversations we have daily with complete strangers. Our personal relationships make families and friendships, this on a wider scale creates community which makes up society, and many societies make up the big wide world. Our every relationship is important.

I’m not saying we should be happy and smiley every day of the week or that every friendship should be perfect, that’s the very beauty of it. Some friendships will withstand distance, some will not, some are intense and need a lot of regular input, some function perfectly well intermittently. When I think of all my relationships they are all so different and it’s just because they’re with different people. The different mixes of personalities and traits define the dynamic of each one. My best friend lives 328 miles away (I just checked Wales – Newcastle!) she moved there when we were 10 and even though we may not speak for weeks on end I still feel a very deep connection with her.

BFFs

Me and my BFF

Relationships also change over time, they ebb and flow. Like tearing muscles to build them back up stronger we have disagreements that teach us how to be with one another once we have been through it. I saw a post that said in Japan when a vase is broken it gets repaired with gold so that the more broken it gets the more beautiful and unique it becomes. I think God made relationships invisible on purpose so that no record is kept.

kintsugi

The art of Kintsugi

We are all always so busy and on to the next thing. It’s the kind of age we’re living in. The more I think about it though the more I want to take a leaf out of the older generation’s book and slow down to appreciate the interactions in my everyday. Wave at the toddler, speak to the cashier, listen to my daughter in the car. I think life is all about relationships because if I was the only person on earth life would be pretty rubbish!

In one of my favourite films -About Time- the main character can time travel and the most important thing he wants to do in all the world is spend time with his dad. What would you do? Is there someone who you would like to travel to, to spend more time with?

Twin Mummy and Daddy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Sparkles At Midnight
Mummy Times Two