I would feel it when I would get sent out to the farm as a kid, when I visited family in Wyoming, or when I was in priest quorum. I felt it the first year I tried out for football and then when I went away to college. I didn't think I belonged when I climbed into a boxing ring, nor when I sat in a class at Penn. I know that feeling of not belonging, of feeling like a fake. It never really matters if you are carrying the card or not, you just feel it.
There are a couple ways to fix this. First is learning to get over that feeling, or at least learning to ignore it. I decided some time ago, after countless rude rejections that things could get no worse — I might as well show up and assume if I don't belong someone will ask me to leave. That theory has, for the most part, held true. I assume I belong everywhere unless told otherwise.
Operating in this way has helped me gain entry to many interesting and fantastic places, but I must admit it has rarely if ever led to a lasting membership in anything or feeling of belonging. Boldness and belonging are not quite the same. I’m sure one can lead to another, but it amounts to taking the long way.
Second is the value of a friend. Most of us need a friend or a guide, and more often, could be one.
On a plane back to my own city, my own school, and my ward, I thought of all the realms where my belonging was without question: my job, my kid’s school and my church. I see all sorts of people in all those places. Normally I go about my business and assume they are doing the same.
Perhaps some of them are wearing their first odd jacket or waiting for someone to come and ask them to leave.
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