Looking for love and belonging – Zuko’s hunt for “honour”

Following one of the best redemption arcs of all time, Zuko's journey has many lessons we can learn from

A sense of belonging is so important to us as social creatures. We spend most of our days existing and interacting with multiple social groups – as a student in a class, as a child in a family, as a member of a sports team, and feeling a sense of belonging allows us to create more positive experiences, generally improving our quality of life. Yet, we may face situations where we feel rejected by others, constantly in search for acceptance and love. Times like these, maybe we can learn a thing or two from Zuko’s journey in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Image Credit: Looper

Zuko, as a prince, was banished from his own nation and family after speaking up against other army generals. Growing up, he was always deemed as unworthy, untalented and a shame to his family of royals. What follows his banishment is a redemption arc spanning across the entire series, where he finally finds the people he can call his friends. A running theme is how Zuko constantly searches for “honour”, which in turn means acceptance, care and simply love from the people who pushed him away. The thing is, we don’t always know what we really need all the time – much like the “honour” that Zuko desperately tries to regain, you may find yourself on a never-ending search for acceptance and love (for good reason!). However, these can only be given by people who truly see you for who you are, and are willing to love all parts of you. In the case of Zuko, his father only ever wanted children that are strong and capable to push his agenda of taking over the nations. He never saw the value of Zuko’s kindness, nor the potential in him to be a leader. Since the Fire Nation was all that Zuko ever knew since birth, it was reasonable that he immediately felt like he was the one at fault and needed to redeem himself. Similarly, it might not be your fault, simply that another environment will better appreciate who you are as a person.

We see that Zuko finally starts to learn that in his interactions with Team Avatar, forming bonds with each member in unique ways. Sure, there were moments of tension, but eventually he finds his home amongst a group of individuals who have seen and experienced Zuko’s good and bad sides. Amidst all of this, Zuko always had Uncle Iroh to rely on, whether he realised it or not. A person who guided but never dictated, advised but never lectured, and was always calling him out on his mistakes when needed. As you traverse this uncertain path of looking for that sense of belonging, it is easy to overlook the people who are constantly by your side. We tend to think of love as something very tangible, like hanging out in a group of friends or participating in activities together, but some individuals simply hanging around like a guardian angel are also expressing their love for you. If you are one of the lucky ones who have such people around in your life, who give you a reason to try again another day, never forget to show them your appreciation.

Image Credit: Avatar Wiki

Trying to find a place where you feel comfortable and loved is never easy and can feel lonely sometimes. Still, keep your heart and mind open and never be afraid to try, with the faith that you are whole as a person and just like Zuko, you will find people who want to fight alongside, grow together, and laugh with you.


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