Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

How to Suck at Belonging

And Learn to Love It

I suck at belonging. Honestly, I do.


Because that’s the story I tell myself, and I routinely tell others the same thing. I relish not needing to belong to much other than my family, my business partnership, to a pack of writers on Medium, and a local gym.

I wasn't always this way, even though humanity freaks me out most days. But I am better now accepting how cruel we can be as humans because I'm not as cruel as I used to be. I'm okay more now, and you're okay more now.

As a kid, I struggled to belong. Remember what it feels like to look at the other kids in class, or on the playground and wonder whether you could win their approval to fit in?

I never felt comfortable in my skin as a skinny, insecure little boy growing up in a small town outside of Boston. And the best way to not feel that way was to numb the pain. I spent a lot of time alone, searching to find myself.

I still remember the suck of not fitting in feeling even though I'm 62. The feeling of being a child and not fitting in sucked almost as bad as getting a felony for weed during the War on Drugs.

Life can suck. But the suck is the way out of the darkness and into the light of living life with joy, even though joy comes and goes.

Sucking at belonging and loving it takes lots of practice. The only way to do it well is to be okay with yourself. And for some of us, that takes finding hell on earth and wanting desperately to find some semblance of heaven.

When we become willing, open, and honest, we can trudge the road to being okay with ourselves. I don't know a better way. I trudge with a smile now.

As a younger man, I looked in all the wrong places to find myself. Today, I know more about who I am, who I am not, and what I want and want not.

And knowing who we are is the greatest gift because, through our unique, self-loathing ways, we fake our way through life, trying to fit in and belong.

For me, being okay with sucking at belonging has taken a lifetime. I didn't know myself very well because, until 2005, I drank myself into oblivion most nights. And during the day, I smoked…



Clifford Jones - The Art of Human Transformation

I write about and coach successful professionals in the art of human transformation because when we find clarity, meaning, and purpose we live a wealthy life.