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It was so odd.
I chose my seat, the same seat, in a group session at work, where I am the only African American in the room. I sat in the first seat near the speaker to be sure I could hear her. Nearly fifteen other people sat at that table 3-5 seats away from myself and the speaker. Even when they were prodded by the speaker to move closer, no one did. It gave me the feeling I didn’t belong. I still am a bit bewildered by it (knowing it wasn’t my hygiene), but I literally have no clue.
It is a dark, lonely place where we feel we don’t belong.
It can be a dangerous place where we feel we don’t belong.
It is a place that compromises our wholeness where and when we feel we don’t belong.
This quote, though, from Ansa puts the responsibility of belonging into our own hands.
“Claim what is yours. You belong any where on this Earth you want to.” ~ Novelist Tina McElroy Ansa quoted by First Lady Michelle Obama (Spelman College Commencement, 2011)
Here, Dr. Maya Angelou further enforces it, “You only feel free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place …”
We belong ‘every place’ so we must claim our place, our belonging.
It is a challenge when we feel like we don’t belong. To find ourselves always on the outside looking in, trying to fit, wanting to be accepted, needing to belong.
We must choose to belong. Many environments and situations are out of our hands but we must not let them frame our entire sense of belonging.  We must find the place we want to be and include ourselves through our sense of purpose, abilities and contributions to be apart, to belong. When we get out of our comfort zone, make new discoveries and enjoy the things we love and are passionate about, we make our own place to belong. We must decide not to be controlled by the opinions, perceptions, judgments, prejudices or indifferences of others, instead we must choose to belong.
It is my choice. Stretching myself beyond myself makes place for me to belong.  When I use my giftedness in a place, for a cause, in a group, I make my own place to belong.
Even when I may not feel accepted, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
Even when I am rejected, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
Even when I am unsure, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
‘What is mine’ is my choosing to belong.
Because I choose, I belong.

I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday group again.