Sense of Belonging

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

It has been a couple of months since I made major changes in real life and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since then. When I first moved to Singapore back in 2012, I had a very hard time adjusting to living in a different country for the first time in my life and being away from family and friends. It was one of the most difficult experiences that I’ve been through but I have no regrets because I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully, I’ve also grown both on a personal and professional level. When I made the transition to a new job a few months ago, I thought it would be easy to settle into this role. I figured that I’ve adjusted well enough to living in Singapore, and my new job is in the same industry as my previous one. I should have expected that in life, anything new would required an adjustment period! I have been trying to understand why it hasn’t been easy, and I don’t think it’s because of the company, the role, or even my co-workers (everyone has been as polite and professional as they can be). I realized that I can’t really say that I’m happy or comfortable in my current role (yet) because I don’t feel like I belong. Kind of like my presence doesn’t matter because I’m not making a relevant contribution (yet), which leads to feeling insignificant and lonely. This reminded me of a passage from a book that I loved, Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer:

β€œI can’t be the only one faking it. I’m not the only lonely small-town girl drowning in this big city. I’m not the only refugee feeling invisible and alone. I’m not the only one who wants to scream, “NOTICE ME! I MATTER!” Maybe everyone is faking it. Maybe they’re just better at it than I am.”

I know I matter! And I hope that I would start feeling like I do matter professionally in a few more months. I’d like to think that every newbie feels weird and awkward in the first few months, and that will change as time passes. A physical place where I would always feel like I matter is back home in Manila because that is where I’m the most comfortable and where I always feel like I belong. Virtually, I definitely feel a sense of belonging in the book blogging community. I feel like I’ve carved out a niche for myself, and I’ve found people who not only enjoy reading as much as I do but also read the same type of books that I love. I’m definitely not a famous or big time book blogger but it makes me happy to know that there are people who enjoy having bookish discussions with me and there are people who ask me what I think about books before they decide whether to read it. I have way more posts than followers on Instagram but I have a lot of fun taking bookish pictures, and friends have mentioned that they like seeing what I come up with. I’ve had authors respond to tweets or blog posts or emails, and that’s something that never gets old. I find myself lucky that I can even consider some of them friends, because we’ve had enough interaction to get to know each other. I’ve met so many lovely people in this community, and I still keep meeting more! With everything that’s happened in real life, it hasn’t been easy to keep blogging, tweeting or bookstagramming but I will keep doing all of those for as long as I can because I would miss it too much if I stop. I would miss the sense of belonging, the camaraderie, the blog comments, and the book recommendations. While I’m a firm believer of keeping blogging fun and not forcing myself to write a review or a blog post if I don’t feel like doing so, I will do my best to make more of a conscious effort to be an active blogger. For now, I’m here to stay because this is where I matter.

26 thoughts on “Sense of Belonging

  1. I feel you. I’ve moved countries where I knew no one and had to carve out my own space and figure out my own sense of belonging. Eventhough, I’m currently back in my own country with my sibling…it’s still tough. But we do what we can, to the best of our abilities! Hope you find what your looking for in your new job soon!

    • No matter how many changes you’ve experienced, I don’t think it ever gets easy whenever you go through a transition. Like you said, we just do what we can. That’s why I try to cling to things that are comforting, like reading and blogging. And good food, of course! πŸ™‚

  2. Change is so often challenging. I hope that you’ll soon feel more settled in work and life. Sending some virtual chocolate and good wishes your way.

    • Change is always challenging! Some changes can be for the good, but there will still be a period of adjustment. Thank you for the well wishes and the virtual chocolate.πŸ˜„

  3. I’ve always had trouble with change so I am in awe of your being brave enough to go to a new country to live and work. The first few days/weeks on a new job are always the most difficult for me. I hope it won’t be much longer before you begin to feel at home there. Virtual hugs and chocolate coming your way. Good luck!

    • To be honest, I didn’t really plan to go out of my home country to work. But when the opportunity arrived, I didn’t want to say no because I knew it would be a huge learning experience (and I was right). Yes, I do know that it really takes a while to adjust to a new job. I’ve even polled my friends to see how long it took them to get used to their current jobs and the range that came up was 3-6months. Fingers crossed that I’ll feel settled faster than that! Thanks for the hugs and chocolates. I appreciate them.πŸ˜†

  4. Hmm, a sense of purpose and that your role matters is important at work. It will probably come as you ease into your position there, just one of those things that can take a little bit of time.. This is making me think carefully about the new people I am bringing on to my team! πŸ™‚

    • Oh yes, it really is important to find meaning in the work that we do but that doesn’t come easily. That’s why I did mention that I’m hoping this is just the usual growth pains than a newbie experiences. Let’s see how it goes. That’s so sweet that you’re thinking of the new people that will join your team! I hope they’ll have a smooth transition. πŸ™‚

  5. That Nowhere But Home (which YOU recommended I read!) quote resonated with me as well. I hear what you’re saying; I feel this way at times. I haven’t lived abroad yet but I move between Aklan and Manila and I sometimes feel that only some parts of me belong to different places or different people. But maybe that isn’t such a bad thing all the time; maybe that’s where we take comfort until the time when we’re really, truly home.

    • So many parts of Nowhere But Home resonated with me! Also because I read it after I’ve already moved to Singapore. You’re right, I do feel like certain parts of me belong to different places or different people – I don’t even feel like Chachic in the workplace because that part of me belongs to my friends and family and the book community. But yes, we take comfort in knowing that this isn’t such a bad thing. I’d like to think I’m here for a reason. I made the choice to be where I am right now and I try my best to have no regrets, and have learnings instead.

  6. I’ve written a post around those lines recently – minus the new-job-and-new-town part ;). I’ve come to realise that blogging about books and interacting with other bloggers (and authors) makes me feel like I belong somewhere – and believe me, even a 50 y.o. like me needs a place to belong, because my real life is kind of a wasteland. Like you, I have a small (in my case) trail of loyal friends who are able lift up my spirits, and a few authors who make me feel like I matter to them, if a little. And I can only quote you:

    “While I’m a firm believer of keeping blogging fun and not forcing myself to write a review or a blog post if I don’t feel like doing so, I will do my best to make more of a conscious effort to be an active blogger. For now, I’m here to stay because this is where I matter.”

    I hope – nah, I’m sure – you will end up settling down confortably in your new job place. You sound like a sensible, passionate and driven young woman – throw away your fears and shine!

    I’m from Italy BTW, and a a friend of Karen’s (@teamsheltie) – as a matter of fact, I was redirected here via a RT of hers. I’m also a new follower because, heck, I like meeting new interesting people :).

    • Ciao Roberta, welcome to my blog! Hope you like what you see here. πŸ™‚ I love how the sense of belonging in the community applies to all kinds of people all over the world, across all ages and nationalities. Like you said, we all need to find a space where we feel like we belong and it makes me happy that we were able to make a space for ourselves in the book blogosphere.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence and the lovely compliments. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I know things will work out eventually. πŸ˜€

      So nice to meet you. Here’s to many more days, weeks and years of us belonging in this community. I’ve only ever been to Milan in Italy and would love to come back to visit other cities like Rome, Venice and the ones along the coast. Where in Italy are you based? πŸ˜›

      • I’m in Tuscany, on the seaside. My favourite city is Florence – you have to see it one day! – also (but absolutely NOT ONLY!) because of the wonderful days I’ve had the chance to spend there. It’s got a magic atmosphere, and it’s not so big that you feel lost :). Can you believe I’ve never been abroad?

      • Oh Tuscany! I’ve heard it’s also lovely over there. Yeah, I had a friend who suggested going to Rome and Florence on the same trip since they’re near each other. I’m all for places that have a magical atmosphere, I love the ones that have a fairy tale feel to them. πŸ™‚

        What! Really? But isn’t it so easy to travel around Europe? You can go on trains or flights depending on what you prefer. Both the Philippines and Singapore are islands so flying is the way to go if I wanted to travel.

    • Thanks, Maureen! I think any move away from home is always difficult. Like let’s say if I moved to a different city in the Philippines, I’m sure it would have been a big adjustment just like my move to Singapore was.

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  8. Hugs, friend! Like Maureen, I’ve only ever moved within the country, but that feeling of invisibility is so real when you’re in a new place. I remember complaining to my mother, a few months into living in New York, that it had been weeks since someone had called me by my name. I hope you’ll be settling in soon and feeling a bit more like you’re in a place where you belong and have friends.

    • Ha, for me it’s not even being greeted by name in the office, I’d be happy if people say hi or hello or even just smile back when we pass each other in the hallway or in the elevator. I will just keep smiling at them and I’ll say hi because that’s what I want them to do as well. πŸ˜€ But yeah, I agree that it’s sad when days or weeks go by and no one has called you by name. Sometimes it takes a while for me to be called Chachic because that’s my nickname and my co-workers don’t know that.

  9. I hope work’s going better for you ❀ When I moved to Scotland it literally took me years to make a proper friend. I had work friends before that, but not a honest to god, call in an emergency type of friend. Change is hard!

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  11. I’m sure everything will be ok. It’s in human nature to resist changes in our lives. You just need some time to adjust. And I feel the same way about book community and blogging. I’m happy I’ve found your blog and I hope you’ll manage to keep blogging despite real life busy schedule.

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