Last weekend, 999 "unconventional" people I and gathered in Portland, Oregon for the 2nd World Domination Summit, the brainwhale of Chris Guillebeau. The central topic of the summit was "How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?" As you can imagine, this attracts all kinds of writers, bloggers, world travelers, entrepreneurs, and otherwise tattooed people.
Perhaps you've heard internet murmurs about the event by now. Brene Brown brought us all to our feet for a unison singing of "Don't Stop Believing," Scott Harrison of charity: water asked of us to donate our birthdays to his cause (we said yes), and Chris even gave each attendee $100 to go do good with. There were workshops and food carts and donuts and hammocks and sumo suits.
But you haven't heard the story of one very quiet moment. My favorite moment.
photo by Armosa Studios
The first morning of the conference, we all got settled into the theatre for the morning speakers. 1,000 seats, 1,000 attendees. The room was buzzing with excitement as people connected with their online buddies or chatted up strangers.
The woman next to me and I were making small talk: what do you do, how did you find out about the conference. Conversation paused for a second. We both looked around the theatre. A breath. Then:
"Isn't it amazing that there are 1,000 people like us?"
She started to tear up. So did I.
I have a notebook full of quotes and ah-has from the weekend, but what I experienced was belonging.
It was someone buying me a donut without me asking. It was dancing like a full-out goober with a couple hundred people. It was knowing shared laughter at things you know other people just wouldn't get. It was happily sharing meals with people who would not otherwise spend time together. It was 1,000 people standing in unison, without hesitation, when asked to donate their birthdays to charity. It was insta-friend. Just because you were there.
When was the last time you truly felt like you belonged?
photo by Armosa Studios
After the summit, on my way to the airport, I instinctively kept looking at people's torsos to see if they had a WDS badge. I had looked for badges as I walked around the city during the weekend, because Badge = You Get It. It means in some way, You Get Me. It means acceptance. Openness. It means I can say hi and walk with you to the next event.
That badge? It means you and me belong.
Where do you feel a belonging? Why do we need to belong, and how does belonging change us? Make a friend in the comments.