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A sense of being

04/28/2010

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I’ve been thinking about what it takes to get a sense of belonging, something that I’ve struggled with both personally and professionally for a long time.  In a personal sense I guess it relates to a feeling of being home.  I’ve never really felt that I’m home……even when I’m home….if you follow my thinking.   There are roads or places from the past that have a nostalgic value, but never a real sense of identity.

Maybe it’s me or maybe it is the nomadic lifestyles that we lead these days.  I was born in one part of the UK, grew up in another, went to University in yet another.  Then I lived in another country for a while  where I met my wife before moving back to the UK, living in two further places before finally ending up where we are now.  Probably not the perfect recipe for identifying with a locale.  Maybe it’s about the community in which I live, although other people seem to feel very at home there.  Maybe it’s something else.

And the same thing exists in my work.  I’m incredibly loyal to the companies that I work for as people who know me would testify.  But I’ve never really joined an organisation and felt that I was in the place that I wanted to be for the long-term.  Maybe that is a thing of the past?  Work is more disparate these days too, we have portfolio careers.  Maybe I ended up in the wrong career and should be doing something else (as an aside, I am totally in awe of people who change their careers because they are unhappy).

Maybe everyone feels a little like this, we are all trying to find something, someone or some place that we can identify with.  Maybe I’m just never satisfied with my lot.  Maybe I’m making something of nothing.  More questions than answers.  But then if I had the answers, I guess I wouldn’t be asking the questions….

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lena M. permalink
    04/28/2010 11:53

    I know the feeling…

    I have never been able to feel at home… Don’t even feel like I have a nationality… Can’t even decide what my language is… Still trying to decide if I’m a singer or a chef…

    At least I’m 100% sure I’m a girl… Comforting…

  2. Corporate Daycare permalink
    04/28/2010 13:36

    I don’t think you are alone in this and I although I agree with your point about the influence of a “nomadic life” , I would take it one step further to call it a “nomadic state of mind”.

    I’ve lived, gone to school, and worked in the same 50km radius my entire life (so far) and I still feel the same way. I’ve worked for a company for 10 years and felt that way.

    And I don’t think it’s about not being satisfied with what you have – my thought is that in the world today nothing remains the same for very long, there is an upgrade, new version, re-organization, re-structuring, re-development, and re-vamp around every corner…so why bother getting comfortable.

    As well, we are so incredibly connected, but to people from places we have never been and with whom we will never meet; it’s hard to truly identify with them.

    For what it’s worth, @TheHRD does belong in the HR Blog community.

  3. 04/28/2010 16:48

    When I worked for other people I always felt the same. I put that feeling down to my own diffidence. But there is a tremendous benefit, dear HRD, in not feeling fully at home, ensconced in an organization. It is that you have the much needed distance to be the organization’s critic, working from within. And it’s a pity more leading HR people seem to lack this. In a good organization it will get you congratulated. In a bad one, it will probably ultimately get you fired.
    And, HRD, you have the ability in spades.

  4. 04/28/2010 17:13

    Welcome to the new age. I think you might enjoy this article: “The Global Nomad Experience: Living in Liminality”. I found it interesting when I came across it yrs ago, especially descriptions like “… so accustomed to change that life without it seems somehow incomplete” and “a by-product of the global nomad experience is a deep sense of rootlessness”…

  5. 04/28/2010 19:07

    I am somewhat biased as I have just written a book on portfolio careers, “And What Do You Do?: 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career”, A&C Black. What my co-author, Katie Ledger and I have found from interviewing a large selection of portfolio workers is that hardly any would even consider returning to what I call a single track career. They actually report feeling more secure in a recession as they are not reliant on only one job. Attitudes towards this growing phenomenon amongst employers are proving fascinating. Even the CBI in a recent report say that our concepts of work and employment are going to have to change with organisations relying more on a small core workforce supplemented by an army of temporary or project workers. Portfolio workers typically are self motivated, self starters and reliable. They have to be as they will not survive unless they are excellent time managers and organisers. They will be increasingly attractive as employees. We are just beginning a programme of interviewing a wide range of employers to check out their attitudes to this growing group of workers. We reckon that there are already over a million of us. Yes – we are portfolio workers too! Follow our project on http://www.portfoliocareers.net

  6. g-dog permalink
    04/28/2010 23:08

    Seems there are several views of this – but I also don’t really feel at home at work or in my community. Even with a lot of work connections, I don’t feel very integrated. Maybe this is just leftover from school years of feeling like an outsider. But, there have been a couple of places I felt most at home – both were college towns.. if that means anything…

  7. 04/29/2010 07:22

    @Lena – Trust me, you’re all woman Lena……. 😉

    @Corporate Daycare – Why bother getting comfortable? Good question……I don’t know. Thanks for the lovely comment too, sometimes I feel more at home in this aspect of my life than any other. I guess the anonymity helps.

    @Henry – Christ….let’s hope I work only for good organisations! Thanks for the compliment, it means a lot.

    @Geekette – Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I’ll try to get hold of a copy it sounds interesting.

    @Dr Barrie Hopson – Thanks for taking the time to comment on a subject you clearly know more about than I do. I guess the question is whether there is a difference between people who have chosen that sort of career, or those who have ended up doing so through circumstance?

    @g-dog – Interesting, I wonder whether some people are just “outsiders”?

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