Social belonging entails the relatedness and connectedness involving positive, significant, and lasting interpersonal relationship. Some of the social belonging factors are characterized as validation, social feedback, and shared experiences. The participation of youths in organized activities has a wide range of positive outcomes. Understanding the psychological experiences of program involvement is key to understanding the influence of organized activities. Youth belonging to a certain organization also empower each other, acquire a sense of belonging, and work towards the attainment of set goals and objectives. The relations tend to vary depending on the content type.
Belonging involves the feeling of getting accepted and also becoming a legitimate group member. The feeling of belonging is crucial to youth in that it offers a unique feeling to each person and is subjective. A person from a different group may feel that they belong in a setting, while others, such as people from different sexual orientations, gender, and race, may not feel as if they belong (Helve & Bynner, 2007). An example is a person from the LGBTQ community who may fail to feel a sense of belonging due to their differences. A leader, parent, and caregiver may feel that it could make a child feel less wanted or cared for based on how they treat them. According to Olcoń, Kim, & Gulbas (2017), belonging is a basic need, and the failure of satisfying a sense of belonging in youth may ultimately lead to complications in adult life. Humans are social creatures that seek out relationships with others, hence need to have a sense of belonging to feel comfortable and engaged in social interactions. By feeling a sense of belonging, satisfaction is enhanced, which allows youths to develop emotional competence, growing mindsets, self-regulation, future orientation, and perseverance (Hadley & Hatch, 2018). Exclusion is harmful to the youths since it can cause physical and psychological pains, which leads to a stressful life, with emotional and psychological distress.
Belonging is essential for everyone, especially in the times of transition for the youths. This mostly includes during the adolescence and puberty period. This is the period where a person experiences a unique physical body transformation and is changing schools. For instance, the transition from elementary to middle school or middle to high school. It is a similar case when one is transitioning to a new club, team, or getting involved in any youth program. Establishing a new sense of belonging may be challenging for a young person. Therefore, it is vital for youth to feel the sense of belonging through identifying with groups which are either misrepresented or marginalized such as racial or ethnic group, people living with disabilities or persons of the LGBT community (Olcoń, Kim, & Gulbas, 2017). A youth may question his/her belonging or feel insecure about his identity. One may also feel that he/she does not belong to a particular place or group, in the event of feeling uncomfortable or facing rejection from their peers, colleagues, and friends.
Overt and covert cues by other members of a group can make a person to perceive whether or not they belong to a given situation. In many events, some individuals fail to receive positive responses from members of a group and feel left out and isolated. In many events, the youths fail to get a sense of belonging because of how they are treated by their peers or groups which they belong to They may be segregated due to their character, origin, sexuality making many other differences, making them uncertain of whether they are accepted or not (Offe, 2018). Even though it is challenging to control every single interaction with the youths, there is a need for parents, caregivers, or social workgroups to create an environment and program which ensures that all participants have a sense of belonging while involving in various programs.
The Idea of Belonging
Self-identities are crucial for youths since they help them in fitting and belonging to their specific groups. Failure to identify oneself may make youths to feel lost, or fail to feel accepted when in a certain group. Friendship groups are important parts of the adolescent experience, which allows young adults to try various identities and, as a result, leads to one having a sense of belonging and acceptance (White, Wyn, & Robards, 2017). A significant part of adolescence can learn about social identity, which is the part of the self-concept that is derived from one’s group membership. They define their social identities according to how they are similar or how they differ from others. This is through finding meaning in the religious, gender, sports, and ethnic categories that they subscribe to.
The idea of belonging shapes the trajectories taken by young people. Youths who feel more accepted and have a sense of belonging tend to be comfortable with their lives and peers and hence have no challenges in achieving their set goals and objectives. They are also able to socialize with others easily and have high esteem, which makes them optimistic about their livelihoods. On the contrary, youths who do not feel accepted in society tend to be more withdrawn from society and barely interact or socialize with their peers (Olcoń, Kim, & Gulbas, 2017). This negatively affects their day to day living, and they are unable to work and associate with others.
A sense of belonging shapes the character of an individual, where he/she can navigate through life constraints and seek for help when need be. A person with a sense of belonging can plan his/her life accordingly. A young person who has a sense of belonging can utilize his/her opportunities, a factor that helps him/her easily attain his set goals and objectives in his life. This also enhances his relationship with others due to the high esteem that is brought about by the sense of belonging (Hadley & Hatch, 2018). A high sense of belonging enables a young person to have the ability to see value in life and easily cope with the constant challenges in the community. It makes a person feel relaxed, motivated, and receptive (Olcoń, Kim, & Gulbas, 2017). A sense of belonging has a considerable impact on the performance of a young person both academically and professionally, leading to their success.
In some instances, some young people cannot fit in society and hence use unscrupulous methods as a way of trying to fit in. Some of these ways may include bullying or using alcohol and drugs, which gives them the bravery of being part of society. There is a need for monitoring of such youths, since these methods may lead to harm among themselves or others. Other methods may be negative use of social media, where they may use this approach to bully and harass people, or suit their lifestyles in a way that they feel accepted and equal or above their peers. In the current times, there has been an increase in cases where youths tend to use different illegal methods to try and fit it to a given society or gain a sense of belonging (White, Wyn, & Robards, 2017). As much as the youths try to use these methods to fit in, they remain psychologically unfit and have low self-esteem. The youths also have antisocial strategies and processes which ought to be addressed. Parents and guardians have the responsibility to understand their children well, especially in their adolescent stages. This can help in analyzing their behaviors and ensuring that they are mentored and monitored to help them in becoming socially belonging.
In summation, belonging is the feeling of being part of a given group or organization. Some of the social belonging factors are characterized as validation, social feedback, and shared experiences. Belonging helps in improving the self-esteem of a young person and, as a result, leads them to attain the set goals and objectives. There is a need for parents to monitor their children, where they should ensure that they are empowered to have a sense of belonging. Belonging is essential for everyone, mostly in the times of transition among the youths, which mostly includes during the adolescence and puberty periods.
Hadley, R., & Hatch, S. (2018). Social welfare and the failure of the state: centralised social services and participatory alternatives. Routledge.
Helve, H., & Bynner, J. e. (2007). Youth and Social Capital. London: Tufnell Press.
Offe, C. (2018). Social policy and the theory of the state. In Contradictions of the welfare state. 88-118.
Olcoń, K., Kim, Y., & Gulbas, L. E. (2017). Sense of belonging and youth suicidal behaviors: what do communities and schools have to do with it?. . Social work in public health, 32(7), 432-442.
White, R., Wyn, J., & Robards, B. (2017). Youth and society.