On Belonging

Happy hump day!  Or should I say RECRUIT day?  Wait…you don’t know what a Sluiter Nation Recruit is?  Well, start here, yo.

This week I am excited to bring you KLZ from Taming Insanity.  Why the excitement?  Have you read  this woman’s writing?  She is the bee’s knees. The cat’s pajamas.  The dog’s…um…zoot suit?  Anyway, she is totally rad.

She is not just funny, but charming.  She is not just a mom to a boy, but pregnant with another one (boy, that is).  She is not just brainiac about social media stuff (um, she is half of the Eli Rose Social Media site), but she is generous with her knowledge (seriously, check out Eli Rose).

I have stalked her blog for a really long time only commenting on the biggest of news.  Mostly it’s because I have no idea what to say…she seems to say it all so well that I feel like my comment would fall lame…ever feel like that on a blog? No?  Just me?  Well.

But then I got to know her a bit and I realized something.  She is pretty dang awesome.

And totally honest.

This post she sent me is honest.  And it comes at the perfect time:  back to school time.

But it also rings true to me as an adult too.

Let’s see what you think.

*************

It seems as though it’s become cool to say you don’t belong. Cool to claim you’re a geek, or to declare yourself an outsider. At least online, this is a badge of honor, a way to connect with other outsiders and thus, belong.

As much as I value the connections I’ve built online, I sort of hate this trend. The reality of the situation is this: people are people everywhere – even online – and people like to be in groups.  There is safety in numbers. As proof, the first blogging advice you get almost anywhere is: find your tribe.

I’ve never done well in groups. I can find individuals with whom I share a deep, emotional, heartfelt bond. But groups? I’ve never understood how to navigate their dynamic. Invariably I make a misstep and ostracize myself from the group.

When I was in high school, I tried valiantly to fit into the group. I didn’t want to be popular – I just wanted to belong to a group. Any group would do. I desperately wanted and needed a true support system.

So, I tried to be nice, to not make sarcastic jokes that could be taken wrong, to help everyone. The effort of trying to be everything to everyone just heaped strain on me. I’d try harder just to fail better. I always failed. I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t be it all. These failures would pile upon me until I hated myself. I hated turning someone down for a simple request because I was too busy doing other things. They hated me too. Because I helped everyone else, so why wouldn’t I help THEM?

Inevitably, the stress of trying so desperately and failing so miserably would cause me to implode. I’d snap at someone who didn’t deserve it, I’d cry for no good reason, or do something else that would make me an outcast once more. So, I’d start over. I’d try harder to be nice which created more stress. It was a vicious cycle fueled only by my own unrealistic expectations of myself.

I hated me.

I don’t want to go back to hating me but I lately find myself mirroring that high school girl. I try to visit every blog that hits my email, every blogger that comments on my blog, every interesting link I see on Twitter. I want so badly to be supportive. For isn’t supportiveness the price we pay to belong?

But I can’t be everything to everyone. I’ve tried. And I hate that person.

I have a place where I belong and people with whom I belong. I’m not a natural networker. I’m built for deep, intense relationships. I’m built for relationships where you know everything about the other person and stay with them through thick and thin. I’m built for marriage, not casual acquaintanceships or one-night stands. I can’t be married to a group of 20 people. I am built for monogamous friendships. That’s where I belong.

I don’t belong as part of a group. And that’s ok.

As long as I remember where I belong, I’ll be ok.

*************

You want more of the Insanity, don’t you?

Ok…for some funny…How to Lose a Gut in Ten Days

Oh, and she MAY wear a lot of dresses.  No really.  Dressing Myself

And come on…we have all done it to some unsuspecting new mom-to-be…Mommy Vomit

And I told you she was social media savvy, right?  5 Blogging Time Management Tips

So there you go.  KLZ.  Taming Insanity.

You’re welcome.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. LOVE KLZ so, SO much. And KLZ? I miss you. A lot.

  2. KLZ is amazing, I’m not a regular commenter on her blog but I do know that her writing is nothing short of awesomeness. I can relate to her post here, sometimes being in the blogsphere feels like high school. We just have to navigate it our way small group of friends or big group of friends 🙂

  3. I remember exactly when I met KLZ.

    She was guesting as a CoolWhipQueen for Naomi De Torres.

    Her post there was so sharp witted and sarcastic, instant love.

    Smart, funny, sarcastic, I had to follow this one home.

    I had just begun blogging, so I spent 30 minutes on her site, clicking back to “older post” “older post” over and over.

    She was no frills, confident, and what you saw, was what she was.

    I was lucky enough to meet her in Chicago. As busy as she was with a little guy (who is just about the most wonderful little boy). being pregnant, and waking up early: she brought her whole troop out to meet me.

    Even Davers, the man I courted via mail with home made truffles.

    She was better than I imagined: sweet, welcoming, honest, comfortable.

    She is built for the long haul, not for speed.

    I love you, Taming Insanity.

  4. Oh I just love you. And it’s ok if you don’t want to have a one-night stand with me; I will still admire you from afar 🙂

    And about the trend of fitting in by not fitting in? When Ryan and I took our birthing class for Abbey, there was a guy there always wearing different shirts with some variation of the “I’m a Geek & proud” theme. When the instructor asked us to share if we knew the sex of the baby yet, he chimed up, “We don’t know what we’re having, but we sure HOPE it’s a GEEK!” Um, we get it 🙂 Anyway, back to regularly scheduled commenting…

  5. I think about this so often. I have always been– or felt like –an outsider, but never in a cool, hip, defiant way. Just in a pathetic, desperate way. As I get older, I realize most of us have this need to belong and to be validated. Thank you for this!

  6. Wow, that is a great post. I have to say I feel very much the same way. I want to be everything to everyone and it is an impossible expectation for myself. And I feel that seeping into my online actions. I want so much for the blogosphere to like me. It’s hard to remember that either they will or they won’t and either way is OK. If I find a few folks to really connect with, that is great but it isn’t a popularity contest. Read, comment, tweet with those that say something that means something to me. And whatever happens, happens.

  7. Great Blog post! I could not have said it better myself. Glad to know I’m not alone in being alone!

  8. Oh jeez. It’s like you’re in my head, KLZ. I posted (whined?) about not having a tribe today. And now you’re telling me I might not need one? Score!

  9. I want to write something meaningful here, but then everyone would think our love affair had reached a “torrid” level.

    Though I’m pretty sure (my) Kate is our love child anyway.

  10. In high school, I was an outsider who hung out with other outsiders. Even though I wasn’t one of the “cool kids”, I felt like I had a place.

    I struggle with finding a tribe now, but perhaps that isn’t my thing?

    • It’s not my thing. I do well with individuals and TERRIBLE with groups. So, not for me. I think knowing that is the only thing that keeps me sane.

  11. This is SO YOU, KLZ…..it’s just perfect.

    The people who change to fit the flow of what the others are doing are never really happy with themselves.

  12. Well said.

    Call it creepy…I choose to call it a photographic memory…but I once wrote a post where, among other things, I mentioned that I had no blogging tribe. Not lamenting it. Just stating a fact.

    You commented. And, among other things, you threw out the phrase “well played.” At the time, I wondered if you felt that I was making a strategic tribe-scouting move with the post.

    Now…after reading this post, I’m reasonably certain that you were high-fiving me. A few months after the fact: Thanks, KLZ.

  13. i LOVE this post & it is so nice to know that i am not the only one who feels this way.

  14. *slow clap*

    I hear ya, girl. I’m the same way.

    It’s stressful and ends up backfiring anyway. Do what feels good, that’s all that matters.

  15. KLZ –

    You rock my world, lady. So keep doing what you do.
    (Because it’s all about me.)

    Not really, though. Not the “all about me” part.
    The part where you absolutely rock.

    Steady.

    XO

  16. HI KLZ, weren’t we just talking/emailing about this? About how trying to out do ourselves is making us crazy and cranky? I love this and you, because I know you’re out there, you’re listening and even when you’re not commenting I know you are THERE.

    we all need to remember who we are and what our role in our “tribe” is…thank you thank you thank you for writing it for us, to remind us. xo

  17. I was the same way in high school. I didn’t care about being part of any popular group I just wanted a group. To fit.

    I did find it eventually but it fell apart when I moved away.

    I also had that one amazing friend that made it okay that I didn’t really have a group. I had her.

    Then I lost her too.

    This post made me cry. And when I cry I don’t make much sense. But yeah… belonging would be nice.

  18. Yay, you! Congrats on being a recruit and I’ve been crushing on Eli Rose so badly recently I’m afraid you’re going to take out a temporary protection order against me! (Please don’t – I can respect boundaries – promise.) 🙂

  19. I’ve followed KLZ on Twitter since I joined, but just know found her blog. How is that?

    I’m brand new to blogging. With that, I have no idea really what I’m doing. Not sure if I’ve actually found a tribe or not…and then even if I’ve found one, does that mean I’m accepted? I don’t know. Just know I’m having a ton of fun, meeting great people, and establishing relationships I never knew I would make. And that is what matters the most!

  20. Love you KLZ and for your honesty. Blogging and all that it entails can take over your life. Been there. 2008 I felt like I was on top of it all and then I realized, I have to do this for me. But, you put it perfectly!

    • You know, it’s blogging. I frankly no longer want to be “on top of it all” because then it’s a job. So, good for us.

  21. Great post KLZ. I don’t have a tribe and I’m not so sure I want one. I don’t know if it comes with age, but at some point in real life, I stopped trying to please everyone else and started being true to me. When I started blogging It never occurred to me to be something that I’m not to to fit into a group. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of great connections and opportunities because of that, but I’m okay with it. I love your last paragraph and I love that you are a monogamous kind of girl. You come across as honest and true to yourself and that’s a really great thing.

    • I’m honest. I’m terrible at being in groups but I’m honest.

      I’m ok with that.

      And right now, I need to prioritize. Thanks for the comment at my blog too.

  22. The pressure to belong continues to haunt us, doesn’t it? I thought I’d be over it as soon as I graduated from high school; alas, it wasn’t to be.

    KLZ, thanks for sharing this with us. It made me feel better to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. If you, who I think is awesome by the way, could feel that way, then it must be a normal thing, right? 😉

    Having said that, it’s important that you’re true to yourself. Because that’s the only way you could be happy and continue blogging. It’s easier said than done, but it’s true what pro bloggers say (lol), that we just have to keep on reminding ourselves what made us start blogging in the first place. That’s usually where our ‘mojo’ is 🙂

    • The word mojo always makes me think of Austin Powers and The Doors in quick succession.

      I’m sorry to not have a real response to your comment but I’m playing air guitar to “L.A. Woman” right now.

  23. I’ve always loved your honesty KLZ. In your writing and your commenting (oh when you comment, I hit the roof, it makes my day). I knew you were different when I first starting reading your blog, and I just keep going back. You may not have a tribe, but I daresay you have a fan base!

    • This made me snort a bit. I love whenever people come by my blog but thinking I have fans? Oh, it’s so hard for me to picture. Tina Fey has fans, I have…tweeples? Weebles? A dog in a zoot suit? Oh, I don’t even know which of those things seems correct.

      But thank you, sincerely, for your kind words.

  24. I loved this post -it is honest, and I feel the same way. Sometimes, I just need to write what I feel, and not put myself on the right schedule of what I “should” be talking about. Sometimes, I don’t have time to follow everyone who follows me even though I’d like to. We take it one day at a time, and we tell the truth. That’s the best thing to do. And I love your blog!!!

  25. You belong with ME!!!! Next door! Or in my house!

    No? Okay. Well, I love you anyway. Just keep being you.

  26. I love the KLZ is who she is! She draw people to her that want and need to hear the truth. I am one of those who learns and reflects on her messages I love that they are so true.

  27. Oh how I needed to hear this right now…it’s like you always know. Which is why you’ll never be a one night stand for me. I had a grilled cheese yesterday and thought of you, it wasn’t homemade though so I was thinking about how our GC-Off is going to put that sandwich to shame. It was DEFINITELY a one night stand!

  28. Your experience in high school sounds so much like me. I’m not naturally a good friend. I have to try really hard to remember to be supportive, make that phone call, drop that line of caring support. I’m not the person who knows what to say when a friend needs support or help. My friends put me to shame, but they still love me.

    Same goes for bloggy support. I struggle just to get my own posts up on my self appointed schedule, and sometimes it seems like getting through my reader or the windows I have minimized is such a struggle, not to mention visiting people who have visited me. It can get exhausting.

    • I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be exhausted any more. I’ve got to prioritize.

      And I just can’t manage a group. I can be a great friend to 2-3 people but any more than that and I get frazzled and harried. It is what it is, I suppose.

  29. This is one of the many reasons I heart KLZ. She is who she is. And I can relate to her in many ways. I was lucky enough to find a group in middle school. A group of other goody-goody, nerdy girls. I don’t think I would have survived high school without them. But I can so relate to trying to please others. And it is funny how it stretches into the blogosphere. I have serious guilt for not visiting all my fave blogs (like hers, and yours) on a more regular basis. And for not completing my list of things-to-do-to-make-my-blog-the-best-it-can-be. It’s exhausting. So, so, SO thankful for friends like you guys who get that. Hugs to both of you!

  30. I have loved this gal for ever.. she was like, the third blog i ever read.. & I’ve stuck pretty close. I really say though that, this time… she has outdone herself. saying exactly what I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks. way to go KLZ 🙂

  31. LaurenGinka says:

    I can attest first hand my sister has been with me through thick and thin. And as far as an intense relationship….she finishes my jokes and punches really hard.

    Love you!

  32. That’s what drew me into KLZ. She wasn’t a “Look” at me kind of gal, she was a “Learn” about me kind of lady. Love it.
    I could never make it on Survivor…I’m not cut out for alliances.

  33. I always enjoy reading you because I love the way you think and you make me laugh. I feel the same way and after nearly two years I realize I can enjoy what I like and it’s awesome if someone likes my blog too but I’ll never be the Prez of the Junior Blog League and that’s ok.