Finding community...

Many times I meet people who have no community. Amazing, caring, fun people without a group to call their own. 

It makes sense in a way.  After all, we spend most of our time at work, and if you don't work with people that you want to hang out with, or if you've moved and family is far is hard to build.

Maybe I should pause for a moment for a definition of community... (pause)  My quick Google search produced 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

When we are young, community usually comes through schoolmates.  We find our group with "common attitudes, interests, and goals" such as athletics, music, academics, etc.  But once you leave school, it gets harder to find community. You have to work at it and it takes time to find/build. 

If you are naturally an extrovert (like me) it is easier than if you are an introvert (like John), but it can still be difficult for both types. Even the most connected people have experiences of being left on the outside or judged and found lacking in some way by a group they wanted to be part of.

Still, because we all need community, there are systems in place to help us find it: 
  • Churches/synagogues/houses of worship are a great place and there is a wide variety of "personality types."   Yes, I know many of us have had places where church communities have let us down, but there is also a tremendous amount of good spiritual community out there. Don't give up. 
  • Volunteer and professional organizations are great at bringing people together who care about similar things, but you will never build community just by going to the meetings.  You have to take on an assignment of some sort working with others to build community within an organization. 
  • Sports, yoga, biking, fitness and running all create opportunities to build community.  John has played softball for the past 17 years with the same team. 
  • Theatre, comedy, dance and other arts create community around shared talents and passion.
What if you have "bad" community?
In some of my mentoring relationships, I've found people who are unhappy because the community in their life is negative. They have families of origin or groups of friends who tear them down rather helping them become who they were meant to be.  If you find yourself in "bad community" it takes guts to leave. It takes saying "no" over and over until those ties are broken.  And, then you have to pour the energy into finding something new and positive otherwise the bad simply drifts back in.

What if you have "no" community? 
If we've been without community for a long time, that has its own gravitational force to break. Fear can hold us back from walking into a room of people we don't know and participating. Even as an extrovert, this is hard for me in groups where I don't know anyone.  But that's what makes the list above so effective. We are never walking into a room saying "please be my friend." We are always walking in to "do" something and the friendships follow over time. 

We were designed to be together. It is worth working to create that. 

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall