When you feel you don’t belong

September 8, 2015

I recently wrote a post about my trip back home to Montreal. So odd this concept of “home”. I concluded that indeed home is where the heart is, right? Interestingly I was just in Beirut and it felt like home too. I’m Lebanese yet never lived in my country of origin. It’s difficult to understand what that feels like unless you grew up just like me. Now that I’m settled in Dubai with a good job, amazing friends, and an adorable dog, it started to feel like it here too. So I ask you, where is home really? What does it mean when you feel you don’t belong anywhere?

Travelling the world and getting to live in so many exciting cities is a double-edged sword. You experience so much in so many places, yet you never feel like you truly belong anywhere. I guess in a way you become a citizen of the world; you’ve embraced global citizenship, if such a thing would exist. You could literally pack your bags up in a day and move to another country if need be, or if your heart and mind propelled you to.

Sometimes you may feel you simply don’t belong to a particular city within a country; maybe you don’t agree with it’s way of dealing with important matters such as pollution, corruption, etc. Other times you may feel you don’t relate to a certain culture or lifestyle. Or maybe a place of work, or an industry.

It’s tough to feel you never belong, it’s draining and keeps you constantly thinking about your next move. The nomad life. For those who may have never heard of nomads, a nomad is a member of a community of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another. However, although they may be moving locations, they still belong to a single community. But what happens when you feel you don’t even belong to a community? I guess you’re then labelled a lone wanderer.

Simply put, there are numerous ways in which one may feel he or she does not relate or associate to a place or its people. But that isn’t necessarily bad. I’m certain we all feel like lone wolves at one point or another in our lives.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

This happens to be my blog’s tag line, which is conveniently also tattooed on my cousin’s chest. I’m not a fan of tattoos but I’ll forgive her because I love that quote.


Tips on what to do when you feel you don’t belong:

  • Be kind to yourself: It’s OK. You’re not the only one experiencing this. Even people who never left their hometown often feel they don’t belong. It’s simply part of human nature to aspire to grow and see new things constantly, which may sometimes lead us to feel we’ve outgrown certain people and places.
  • Stay true to who you are: Don’t try to fit in simply so you can associate to a community or group of friends. It’s cool nowadays to be the outsider, the eccentric, unlike what those American high school movies may lead us to believe.

“My eccentricity became direction.” – Jean Paul Gaultier

  • Evaluate if it’s time for a change in your life: Sometimes it really is time for a change. I’ve always been told that the only constants in life, ironically, are change and death. And taxes. But I live in the UAE so I need not worry about that last item. You simply need to close your eyes sometimes and just jump off that ledge to realize your true potential and possibly find your direction or the place where you may truly fit in.

Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely believe that humans are meant to live in groups and societies. However, globalization and the ability to move so easily from one place to another has forever changed the concept of a community. You now must create your own community by staying true to yourself while possibly continuously discovering and exploring yourself. It no longer has anything to do with where you were born or who you used to hang out with as a child. You can truly belong anywhere.

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