Belonging is Crucial

Chantel McCormick Schieffer, Alpha Phi (Montana State U), International Vice President
Chantel McCormick Schieffer, Alpha Phi (Montana State U), International Vice President

By Chantel McCormick Schieffer, Alpha Phi (Montana State U), International Vice President

As one of the AOII-Ends, Sense of Belonging says that “AOII members have a strong sense of belonging through friendships and a genuine connection with the Fraternity.” This happens to be the End that I am most drawn to in my work on the Executive Board. It is a deep sense of belonging that drew me to AOII as a collegiate member in 1994 and why I continue to serve today.

A sense of belonging is important because it fulfills a basic human need for connection with others. As social beings, humans have an innate desire to feel accepted, valued, and supported by their peers and community. When we feel a sense of belonging, we feel included, respected, and appreciated. We feel seen and understood, which enhances our well-being, self-esteem, and mental health.

Belonging to a community or group like AOII also provides a sense of identity and purpose, helping us understand our role and significance within the broader context of society. This can promote a positive sense of self and increase motivation and engagement in activities that are meaningful and fulfilling. Belonging inspires ambition!

Science agrees. Research has shown that a strong sense of belonging can have positive effects on physical health, such as reducing stress and boosting the immune system. Conversely, a lack of belonging can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression, which can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health.

My own experience has shown me that a sense of belonging is important for my overall well-being and quality of life. It is a crucial component of happiness and fulfillment, and it is essential for promoting a positive sense of self, maintaining meaningful relationships, and a growing a greater of purpose in life.

Through AOII, I have found that sense of belonging I lacked in various times of my young life. As an only child, I did not grow up with siblings or even close cousins to help shape me as I found my way in life. Luckily, at 18 I found a chapter full of new sisters who quickly filled that gap in my life. Those sisters are still shaping me today, nearly 30 years later.

AOII has also provided me a sense of belonging in my service to the Fraternity. I genuinely feel a greater contribution to my community and society though my service roles on local, regional, and international circles.

As we start a new month, I invite you to reflect on the ways that AOII has created a sense of belonging for you. Consider sharing gratitude with those sisters who have helped shape you to the amazingly ambitious woman you are today.

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