A good friend of mine told me recently she has left her church in Chandler’s Ford. Now she goes to a church in a nearby town.
I was surprised, and even felt a bit upset for her. I know she loves the church and has made friends. She attended various services, home groups and social events in the church in Chandler’s Ford for years. She felt loved, but why did she want to leave?
“The church and the people are lovely, but I don’t feel I belong there.” My friend said.
Why? I know her friends in the church are kind, caring and welcoming.
“I like them, and they are really nice to me, but I still don’t feel I belong here. Chandler’s Ford is too middle class for me.”
I think I understood what she meant. My friend didn’t feel a sense of belonging here. She didn’t feel she ‘fit in’.
Is Chandler’s Ford TOO middle class? Was the church she attended for years too middle class for her to feel she was accepted and she belonged?
Sense of belonging
Another friend explained that human beings naturally have an urge to belong somewhere. We have an urge to connect with people and find where we belong. Some people find their sense of belonging in their family, religion, race, or their football team. We keep searching as we want to feel we belong, we fit in, and we are genuinely accepted.
As a foreigner living in Chandler’s Ford for 14 years the sentiment of ‘not fitting in’ resonates with me. Chandler’s Ford is not a microcosm of an ethnically diverse society, so it is easy for some people from other parts of the country or foreigners, especially the ethnic minority, to feel like an outsider (or intruder). Chandler’s Ford is beautiful and orderly. You see green, lush lawns. Many gardens are adorned with floriferous borders with abundance of plants.
I know it’s a generalisation to say Chandler’s Ford is a posh middle-class neighbourhood. There are many disadvantaged families who rely on charities such as Eastleigh Basics Bank. There are some kids who go to school without breakfast, and no one washes their white shirts for weeks.
Being middle class is definitely not evil. I’m curious to see how Chandler’s Ford is perceived by newcomers, or, outsiders. How open are we to newcomers, of different cultures, colours, race and social background? How do we connect with them? Why would my friend feel she couldn’t fit in amongst the nicest middle-class people in Chandler’s Ford and that she had to find somewhere more comfortable?