Teen Thursday: Longing to Belong

Yesterday, we spotlighted Micol Ostow's chilling new novel Family (which I reviewed a couple weeks ago). Her verse and imagery are beautiful, but what struck me the most was the concept of family, and belonging to a group -- no matter the cost.

From cliques to cults, collaborative blogs to high school clubs, gangs to sports teams, special interest organizations to secret societies, people are always gathering themselves into groups. The urge to belong to something is just so human, and never stronger than in our teenage years.

Some of these groups are undeniably positive.
maypole parties
heifer international
the dillon panthers in seasons 1-3

Others are decidedly negative, even destructive.
the manson family
the westboro baptist church
zombie hordes
The group depicted in Family (based on the Manson family) is one of the latter types. But the book's main character, Mel, thinks it's positive, at first: the loving, supportive family she lacked growing up. She's so eager to belong, she attempts to overlook the warning signs, even as they stack and stack.

Of course, Mel has joined a cult, which is an extreme case of a negative group. However, many much more casual groups have destructive qualities – even groups of friends.

When it comes to friendships, one thing I've realized is how much is a result of chance. Where your school is. The random selection of people in your area, in your grade. Who happens to sit beside you. Or who reaches out when we're vulnerable -- new students, or in a unhappy headspace, or simply searching for different friendships. Unfortunately, that longing to belong doesn't always lead to the best decision-making. I think many of us have found ourselves in situations where we changed parts of who we were, what we liked, or what we were comfortable with, just to fit in with a group.

What groups were you part of as a teen? Did any of them have destructive dynamics? Did you ever change something about yourself to belong? Did you ever actually like Creed?


Pam Harris said...

LMAO! I have to admit, I did like 1 or 2 Creed songs when I was a teen. I thought they were all deep and introspective. Now they just seem like an early era Nickelback. I never was part of a group as a teen. I just had a small set of friends and we all did our own thing--which was mainly read books and talk about them. We did have our destructive moments though. Someone who I thought was my best friend would act really mean whenever someone gave me compliments. I think that's why it's hard now for me to just say "thank you" if someone says something nice about me. :(

Claire Dawn said...

I was never that teen that changed for ppl. I was loud and fun-loving, and at my 10 year reunion I discovered I was cool! Who knew?

I think I have a savior gene or something. So occasionally (=often) I become friends with a questionable content, in the hopes of helping them pick up the pieces. 99% of the time I'm crushed into failure :(

Lisa Schroeder said...

I don't know, all I know is I wish I had went to HS in Dillon, Texas with all of those Panther boys. Dang it.

Micol Ostow said...

Love the comparison between the Manson family and zombie hordes! But yes, we had our "mean girl" cliques in high school. Sometimes I was a part of the clique, and sometimes I was the victim. It kinda sucked on either side, I will say.

Melissa Walker said...

This post is hilarious. I had figured out who I really liked by 10th grade, thank goodness, and have had pretty good radar since then. I can smell the crazy.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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