Belonging: The Wonders of a Wandering Soul

Yes, I sleep with the light on. No, I am not afraid of the dark. We exist. 

There is a word called “middling” which means “feeling the tranquil pleasure of being near a gathering, but not quite in it.” When you go to a party, but remain in the corner, people watching. Or when you’re walking with a group, but dangle behind or in front of the rest. The sound of listening to music from a different room than where it is being played (look this up on YouTube, it’s a real mood). Riding along in the car, looking out the window while the radio plays or the other passengers talk. This middle ground — this see-saw that straddles presence and absence – that is where I am. That is where I live.

So while I sleep, when I do, I like to have the light on as if to give me the comfort that the world is still going on around me. I am there, but not fully immersed in the surroundings. I can rest knowing that I’m part of something, but not having to be that something. 

See, the thing is, I don’t feel as if I really belong anywhere. 

Now I know that may sound sad and 2014 tumblr emo as all hell, but it’s not so bad. I’ve come to terms with this realization lately, at least I am anyway. While I do live in the moment, I don’t feel too attached to any place; my soul remains afloat. I’ve taken this to mean that I… can’t be bound. 

I’ve never been one to be part of a clique. All my life, I had several different groups of friends that I weaved in and out of. I couldn’t imagine joining a sorority as I have major conformity issues. I didn’t even feel that tight-knit with my siblings growing up (I was always referred to as “the different one”). I was never able to commit to any sort of club, until the Oracle, which has actually given me the closest sense of belonging I’ve ever felt. At the tender age of 17 I was calling myself a transcendentalist. I have seriously never just been normal. 

Now as a junior in college and having freshly turned 21, I recently found myself questioning my place in the world, all over again. While thinking about the things I want, both now and in the future, I can’t pick just one thing. I can’t live in just one place. I am a hedonist: I must have it all. I yearn to travel, to kiss the tar on the highway, dropping pins and stacking memories in new cities full of new people. I long for places I’ve never been, and I know when I get there, I’ll long for more. My soul cannot rest. 

Monachopsis. Another obscure word that describes this persistent feeling of never belonging and constantly feeling out of place. My family always says that I’m never happy, but that’s just them putting a negative outlook on the fact that I don’t settle. I am a Capricorn sun after all, so you will never catch me settling for anything less than the best, if anything at all. 

In the words of Lana del Rey, I find myself “with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about it and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me.” 

So if you feel like me, never being part of the in-crowd, or anything really, having a chameleon soul and only feeling understood through your own poetry, wondering whether you’re meant to go through life in a constant limbo of living and longing, then know you’re not alone. Also know that there is a sense of ease in the uneasy. The restlessness to be at rest ends when you realize that this is perhaps a good thing. To not belong anywhere can mean you belong everywhere. Most of all, remember that it means you belong to no one but yourself.

Mahnoor Ali
About Mahnoor Ali 46 Articles
Mahnoor Ali is a fourth-year English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. This is her third semester with the The Oracle. Previously, she has worked as Assistant Copy Editor and Features Editor. Her favorite stories to both read and write about are Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Columns, with an appreciation for News and social issues.