"A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick." - Brene Brown
On every TradeMutt shirt pocket, there are four very powerful letters. Individually, they don’t mean much. But together, they send an incredible message that creates a sense of belonging that so many people desperately need.
#YNWA - You’ll Never Walk Alone
These four simple words belong together, and they belong in that order.
They form the central pillar that is at the core of our mission, creating human connection, community and comradery.
Why? Because without it, you have loneliness and isolation.
These two things kill people.
As March rolls around, so too does the Winter sports season. Whatever code you’re into, one thing is certain; Australian’s love their sport. Whether you play at an elite level, park yourself in the forward pocket for your local fourth-grade side or get down to the games on the weekend and support, our connection to sport goes far deeper than just the game itself.
On the surface, sport is just great fun. Dive a bit deeper and it is the perfect mix of fitness and exercise (even if you’re just a weekend trundler, something is better than nothing), it provides purpose, it’s a powerful outlet, it creates community and it is the perfect way to get a bit of passion and fire in the belly that comes from rivalry and competition. It’s also a great way to make new mates. Although we may not realise it, all of these aspects are crucial for maintaining mental wellness.
When I first arrived in Brisbane in 2010, I only intended to stay for 2 weeks. As the weeks and months went on and it started to become clear that I was staying, I needed to find some mates. When I joined the local Soccer team, not only did I make mates, but I experienced all the other elements of belonging that I mentioned above. Coincidentally, that’s where I met Dan. For those that know the TradeMutt story, he’s the mate that quickly became more like a brother, was a die-hard Liverpool Football Club supporter (YNWA) and who tragically took his life in 2015.
That’s why we wear those four letters on our chest.
In fact as I write this, I’m having a strange moment of realisation, that the very reason that TradeMutt exists is to try and help ease a problem that so many people face, and the same problem that I once faced that Dan helped solve for me – finding a sense of belonging. In his memory, we are paying it forward.
So, is team sport the only way to create a sense of belonging? No.
There are any number of groups, clubs and activities that you could and should become engaged with, of which the benefits go far deeper than simply completing the activity.
Recently on the 120 Grit Podcast, we had JC who played the Bass in a small band called Powder Finger. He spoke of the incredible sense of belonging and comradery that he felt during their time together. You might not make the Hottest 100 like Powderfinger, but music is an awesome way to bring likeminded people together and there is a genre for every age and personality.
I see the old ducks down at the local café playing Mahjong together, I used to watch the old fella’s down at the local park in Sydney playing bocce and I also know people who go to weekend Bible study groups. In all these situations, people obviously love the subject matter or activity that is going on, It gives them something to look forward to, but what they love even more is the feeling of being accepted, the sense of community and the friendships made with likeminded people.
So how do you find your niche activity or team sport that can help provide that sense of belonging and community that you didn’t know you needed?
- Go for a walk or bike ride around your local area – it’s amazing how much more you take in when on foot or cycling instead of driving. Suddenly you take it all the signs, notices and advertisements that you would otherwise drive straight past. You might just see an event or community activity that sounds like fun.
- Step outside your comfort zone – it can be incredibly daunting to join a new team, club, or group - but know that the effort pales in comparison to the reward.
- Try new things - This goes hand in hand with the point above. One thing that is guaranteed is if you are searching for a sense of belonging, it won’t come and fall into your lap. You need to meet it halfway. You’ll be amazed at the relationships you’ll make when trying new things, and at worst, you’ll come out of it with some great stories to tell all the people you meet at the next new thing you try. Also, I literally just googled community activities and found www.meetup.com - There are endless amounts of groups and activities from walks, bike rides, art classes and meditation – and it’s all free.
- Make time to support your team – from the outside, most people look at sport and only see a game that they hate. They don’t see the passion, they don’t see how much you look forward to a game, they don’t see how many conversations that happen because of your passion and they don’t understand that even bigger than the game is the sense of belonging that you feel to your club, win, lose or draw. Side note, there is a supporters group (both physical and online) for literally every professional team out there.
- Rip the confidence bandaid off - If you're thinking about doing something but find you keep hesitating or are a bit uncertain, just rip off the band-aid and do it. People are inherently good and don't want to see other people struggle. If you've ever seen someone struggle while standing on stage during a public speech, no one sits there and laughs. Everyone wills you on, as hard as it is to watch. Now, if that made you feel awkward, well then trying new activities should be a walk in the park compared to stuffing up while delivering a speech.
As always, if you need any help, support or guidance, please, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help, support and instil you with the confidence that you'll never walk alone.