On Belonging and Unbelonging

On Belonging and Unbelonging By Anonymous - Photo by Elena Eisenstadt

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for a place where I belong. I’ve tried out many spaces—and, too, many iterations of myself—in the hopes of finding my people.
On my quest for belonging, I’ve attended a Modern Orthodox day school and a non-Jewish liberal private school; I’ve been to Bnei Akiva sleep away camp and an artsy, creative camp in Appalachia; I’ve been in strictly religious Jewish spaces as well as nondenominational and pluralistic ones. My journey to belonging has taken me through many communities across America and Israel.

But in every space, I’ve felt a sense of difference, a barrier between myself and others, an unbelonging despite seemingly belonging.

Perhaps my unbelonging stems from the fact that I don’t fully belong in myself— I’m still on a journey to discover my religious beliefs, my spiritual beliefs, my sexuality. Is it possible for me to belong among others without truly knowing who I am? Or is belonging an unattainable goal? Is it human nature to always be searching for a home? Should my goal not be to belong, but to embrace the unbelonging?

Maybe I’ll find my belonging in the feeling of not belonging. Or maybe I won’t. I don’t think I’ll ever give up searching for a space where I can be all of me: Jewish and queer, Modern Orthodox and nonpracticing, curious and loud, and anxious and shy.

I also don’t know if I’ll ever truly belong somewhere. But for now, I’m okay with residing in this liminal space.

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Accompanying photo: “Brain Rising” by Elena Eisenstadt