I remember how I would try to fit in my first year of high school. I was coming from a middle school where I didn’t really fit in. I had my own group of friends but was never was fully accepted by the other students so I never felt like I belonged there. I went to SLA because I wanted a fresh start. No one else from my middle school came to SLA with me and I thought that a new environment and new people would allow me to find exactly who I was. That I would suddenly have a sense of belonging finally but when I finally got to high school I was completely wrong. For the first few months I didn’t really know who was my friends. I didn’t feel like I belonged with any group. I remember the first day of school. I walked in and I already saw groups forming. I was scared out of my mind because I thought that I wasn’t going to fit in with any group. It wasn’t until the spring of my freshman year that I finally felt some type of belonging. I was part of the varsity baseball team and we were a family. When you are part of a family you always want the best for the other members. That’s what members of the baseball team wanted for each other. We all knew our common goal was a championship so when we stepped onto the field we gave 120% effort to each other. We wanted the best for each other and we knew what we had to give to acheive that best. This family feeling I got from the team gave me the feeling of belong I wanted for months.
So why do teenagers need to have a sense of belonging, especially teenagers in high school? Amanda Enayati, who wrote a special to CNN called The importance of belongingsaid “Because as humans, we need to belong. To one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and country, to our world. Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.” Karyn Hall who has a Ph.D in Psychology wrote “Feeling that you belong is most important in seeing value in life and in coping with intensely painful emotions.” As teenagers we can have so many different factors stress us out. School, family and relationships are just some of the many things that can stress us out. With these stress factors it can feel like the world is against us and we can have no one to talk to. For some these feelings like depression can bring them to the point of killing themselves. According to kidshealth.org 1 in 8 teens could suffer from depression. That is why we want to belong somewhere. So that we can have people we can talk to. So that we can have some to vent to about all the problems that we are facing in everyday life.
We see wanting to belong in the media everyday. Since we are surrounded by this all the time we are influenced by it. In every movie about teens and high school there is an “in” group and there is an “out” group and the main protagonist is always trying to get in the “in” group. Or on Twitter or Instagram. We see stuff like #squadgoals, #bestfriendgoals or #relationshipgoals. Dancing, Singing, or doing any type of activity, these people have found someone or someones who they can identify with others. Someone they can have fun with or be silly with
So how can teenagers find belonging? First, they should find what they are passionate about. When they find that thing they should find people who are passionate about the same thing. That is what happened to me. I love baseball. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t love baseball. I remember Saturday mornings as a little kid and my dad would toss me wiffle balls and I would hit them over our garage. Baseball was part of my identity and it made me who I was. When I came to high school that is how I found where I belonged. I joined the baseball team and I became friends with people who loved to play the same game as me.
Teenagers. The teenage years can be filled with ups and downs especially for my generation. The little things now are big things and the big things become bigger things. In this time of tweeting and snapchatting it is important to us to have a sense of belonging. It can be to someone or a group. This can be balance to our lives and allow to to express who we really are. They can help us find our identity and who we are meant to be in the future.
"Understanding Depression." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Ed. Arcy Lyness. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/understanding_depression.html>.
Hall, Karyn. "Create A Sense of Belonging." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201403/create-sense-belonging>.
Enayati, Amanda. "The Importance of Belonging - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 1 June 2012. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/health/enayati-importance-of-belonging/>.
Dokmanovic, Greer. "The Importance of Belonging | Valuing Our Teenagers | The Kids Are All Right." The Kids Are All Right. N.p., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.thekidsareallright.com.au/2014/parenting/teenagers-children-belonging-valued/>.
Richards, Patti. "The Importance of Belonging in Teenagers."LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 17 May 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/1002787-importance-belonging-teenagers/>.
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This sample HSC English essay received a mark of 14 out of 15. It is not perfect, but makes some good points and illustrates the structure you should aspire to have in your essays. It refers to the prescribed text As You Like It by William Shakespeare.[separator top=”40″ style=”shadow”]
“Relationships are essential to finding a true sense of belonging”
Discuss with reference to your prescribed text and related text/s
Due to the complex and abstract nature of the concept of belonging, a true sense of belonging can be found in different circumstances for different people. As each individual has their own desires, needs and values, they find their place in the world and a genuine sense of belonging in various avenues. Many individuals find the strongest sense of belonging through relationships, due to the fact that by nature these connections fulfill the human need for social interaction and enrich the lives of the persons involved. Conversely, relationships which do not fit the conventional model of this kind of connection and thus result in negative outcomes for individuals can ultimately lead to a true sense of not belonging and its related notions of isolation and disaffection. Instead, these individuals may attain the same sense that they truly belong outside relationships, though their connections to other ideas such as place and culture, or within themselves. Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Khyenstse Norbu’s Travellers and Magicians are two texts in which an exploration of belonging and its different meanings for individuals ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of the complexity of the concept of belonging and thus that individuals can find a true sense of belonging in a great range of places, not limited to relationships.
Relationships by nature embody ideas of a connection on a psychological level between two people which can fulfill other fundamental human needs such as the need for social interaction, and thus can result in the individuals involved attaining a true sense of belonging. When individuals find meaning and purpose in connections with other people, as they often do in relationships, the need to belong is fulfilled in the greatest sense as the individuals life is enriched by the positive outcomes for their self esteem, security and stability. This idea can be seen in the relationship between Adam and Orlando set up by Shakespeare in As You Like It. Adam promises that he will “follow thee to the last gasp with truth and loyalty” when Orlando decides to go to the forest. By changing the rhyme scheme for Adam’s declaration of commitment to Orlando, Shakespeare effectively emphasizes the lack of superficiality that exists in this relationship as opposed to other relationships he sets up in the play. In their relationship, Orlando finds purpose and stability in his life, knowing he has another person who will always look out for him, just as Adam finds purpose knowing he will always be in the company of Orlando, seen where he states “Fortune cannot recompense me better than to die well and not my master’s debtor.” Through this, Shakespeare communicates that in relationships which are built on trust, loyalty or other solid connections between people, individuals can find meaning, stability, purpose and thus a true sense that they belong. In Travellers and Magicians Norbu inquires into similar ideas which support the value of relationships in the search for a true sense of belonging. In the relationship between Tashi and Deki, Norbu communicates the idea of their deeper connection on all levels through quickly alternating close ups between the expressive eyes of Deki and Tashi, which create the idea that their souls and desires are connecting as their eyes remain fixed on one another. The couple is also often presented on equal terms embracing each other, caring and showing affection through mid shots. Their connection leads Tashi to exclaim “If I never left this place, and died right here with you, I would not die unhappy.” Norbu thus effectively supports the idea that meaning and purpose can be found in real connections with others, and that consequently individuals can find the strongest sense of belonging in relationships such as these. Through this relationship, he also inquires further into the reasons why relationships can lead to a individual feeling that they truly belong. By suggesting that the positive outcomes which the human psyche correlates with attaining a sense of belonging, such as understanding, stability and care manifest themselves in relationships, Norbu advocates and supports the almost inextricable link between belonging and relationships.
Whilst there may be an almost inextricable link between belonging and relationships, not all relationships ultimately lead to individuals finding a genuine sense of belonging which manifests itself in positive outcomes for their lives. Some relationships can be driven by the quest to maintain control, have power and maintain authority over others or by the decisively one sided benefits to one of the individuals involved. In these relationships, it is more likely that individuals find themselves not belonging, isolated and disaffected rather than finding a true sense of belonging. This idea is expanded on by Norbu in Travellers and Magicians. The relationship between Deki and Agay is characterized by Agay’s domination of his young and beautiful wife. This is emphasized through low shots which place the vertically challenged Agay in a position of power over Deki and his statement to Tashi that he makes her live in the isolated hut with him because “We may grow old, but our jealousy stays young.” Deki is thus presented by Norbu as isolated in her relationship; she does not feel the strong connection with Agay that conventional notions of being in the marriage relationship would suggest. Thus through the negative consequences for Deki of being in a relationship with Tashi, and her strong sense of isolation and the feeling she does not truly belong, Norbu communicates the idea that relationships are not always central for individuals trying to find a true sense of belonging. Shakespeare through the representation of a relationship in which love is unrequited similarly challenges the connection between relationships and a true sense of belonging. Whilst Phoebe ends up marrying Silvius, there is a lot of ambiguity in whether she truly loves him and thus has attained a genuine sense of belonging in this relationship. When they marry, all Phoebe comments is “I will not eat my word now thou art mine Thy faith and my fancy to thee doth combine.” A rhyming couplet draws emphasis to this section of the play, where it is not resolved whether Phoebe truly commits her whole self into this relationship, and thus whether Silvius will experience the positive outcomes of the relationship he has desired throughout the play. In this ambiguity, Shakespeare supports the notion that individuals do not always find the greatest sense that they belong in relationships, especially relationships which are unequal and result in negative outcomes for individuals.
Individuals can find a true sense of belonging outside the confines of a relationship in connections to ideas such as culture, place or even within themselves. As each individual is intrinsically different, so are the ways in which they fulfill the fundamental human need to belong. Norbu presents the ideas that individuals can find contentment and fulfill the need to belong through connection to traditional culture and village life. In the first scene, a series of quickly changing mid shots show the activities of daily life in their rural setting. The villagers all wear traditional Gho’s and shrieks of joy emphasized through an echo when practicing archery suggest they are content with these repetitive activities. Essentially, they conform to the expectations of their traditional culture and life and find a true sense of belonging and fulfillment in this connection. Norbu thus demonstrates in this connection that a true sense of belonging and its positive outcomes can be found outside relationships. Duke Senior in As You Like It, can similarly be described as finding a genuine sense of belonging and contentment with his place and environment, the Forest of Arden. He asks Amiens and the audience “Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court?” In the use of the words “free from peril,” Shakespeare suggests that in this place Duke Senior feels comfortable, content and untroubled and thus has developed a true sense of belonging with this place. The character of Jacques also finds an inner contentment within his meaningless existence.. At the end of the play, Jacques states “I am for other than for dancing measures” and retires to Duke Senior’s “abandoned cave.” He deliberately chooses not to belong in relationships with his comrades, instead he finds his own sense of contentment within himself, and thus Shakespeare demonstrates that a true sense of belonging can be found within an individual.
The complexity of the concept of belonging often means that individuals find belonging in different places to other individuals. Whilst many individuals can attain a true sense of belonging in relationships, due to the nature of these connections and the positive outcomes they have for individuals, there are some relationships in which individuals experience the opposite from truly belonging. Furthermore, there are many circumstances outside the confines of relationships in which individuals can attain a genuine sense of belonging, including culture, place and within themselves. Analysis of a range of texts including As You Like It and Travellers and Magicians inquire into these ideas and foster an appreciation for the need to consider different circumstances and individuals before making assumptions about the multifaceted concept of belonging. Ultimately, relationships are often the connections in which individuals find the truest sense that they belong, but the fulfillment of the fundamental need to belong is not strictly limited to the confines of a relationship.