Recently I watched a group of younger colleagues. They seemed so at home with each other, so comfortable. Like pieces in a puzzle, they all fit. There was without doubt some diversity among them, but they spoke the same language, had the same Masters of Public Health (MPH) after their names, had gone to similar colleges, and knew the same vernacular.
I sat in the background, observing. I found myself in the place I’ve been so many times — not belonging. From my education to my background to my age, I was different. I was other.
If we are honest, we have all experienced this — though some substantially more than others. That sense of being other, of yearning to belong.
It is this that has led me to really think about how I would live if I truly believed in my heart that I am loved by God as much as my intellect and faith tell me I am loved. How do we live when we are fully loved? How would I live if I truly felt I belonged?
And I know the answer. Because there are times when I feel a sense of belonging that is so strong it drowns out any other feelings. I know what it is to belong.
This weekend I will be at a reunion. It’s sort of like a family reunion, but only a few are blood relatives or relatives by marriage. It’s sort of like a school reunion, though many parents are also invited. It’s a reunion of place and people. It’s a reunion where, in a myriad of ways, I belong.
I don’t have to explain early separation from parents or boarding school. I’m never asked at this reunion if boarding school was difficult – because we all get it. We all knew that it was difficult — and it was wonderful. I don’t have to defend a country that is always in the watchful eye of a military drone and on a terrorist watch list, because I’m with people that have a three dimensional view of the country of Pakistan.
I get into conversations on how faith is hard and a long journey, and my words are met with nods and tears of understanding. I am with people that love curry and chapatis as much as I do, and we reminisce with our tongues burning just with the thought of it.
We come from a line of people that shared text books, clothes, dolls, and teachers. We speak the same language, we know the same stories.
For a short time, like pieces in a puzzle, we will fit. We will belong, and it will be glorious.
And I will remember what it is to live like I really belong.