Isn’t it a good feeling to be associated as a member of highly visible industries, neighborhood interest groups, sports teams, and even spiritual communities? From our participation in these groups, we practice authenticity, conquer issues and concerns, construct the future, and renew the loving bonds of family and friends. In essence, we belong to something wonderful and bigger than ourselves. When does belonging cost you a significant portion of your own identity? When does belonging begin feeling like sacrifice?

We may all be veterans of the Fast Track career syndrome, high performance athlete teams, or specific cultural societies. As many of these professional organizations and communities carry a high status in the public today, they may not allow for the freedom of demonstrating any differences or your own personal values. Consequently, belonging to a given group can also limit the personal freedoms of vacations, time off, and time for self. You will notice in today’s media that it is not good enough to take a vacation, you have to pursue something extreme such as, ice climbing in foreign countries, camping in the Amazon, or a canoe trip in the Colorado rapids for a week! Many today are accepting vacation invitations not of their true personal desire but to continue their belonging in a given group. So, these same individuals return from vacation as exhausted as when they were first embarked on the journey.

The side effect of this behavior can be the loss of the ability to say ‘no’, decline incoming projects, vacation adventures, or more community efforts. Subsequently, your calendar becomes more hectic and you feel a hit to your individual life’s quality. Now the association in this group begins feeling heavy and you dread participation.

The Cost of Belonging