I grew up in a really tight knit community. I lived in a small town and my family had been attending the same church since before I was born. I was raised by committee, not just by my parents, but also by the little old ladies in the front pew, my friends parents, and my Sunday School teachers.
[bctt tweet=”My successes were celebrated by my community. My shortcomings were forgiven. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
My successes were celebrated by my community. My shortcomings were forgiven. Whenever I had a problem I felt I couldn’t bring to my parents, I could always talk to one of the church members who had known me since I was born or the parents of the kids I taught in Sunday School. They helped me through my struggles, whatever they were, without judgment or condemnation. In my house, we called these people our church family.
[bctt tweet=”Being surrounded by community makes the hard times a little easier.” username=”wearethetempest”]
This church family taught me what it meant to be a part of something larger than myself. They taught me the value of service to others. They showed me what it meant to have empathy and compassion. They cemented the morals and values that would guide me through the rest of my life. They gave me a profound sense of belonging.
When I moved away from this community, I felt their absence in my gut, in my soul. I felt disconnected and lonely. In my loneliness, I began to live a life of self reliance, convincing myself that I didn’t need anybody else. In reality, I desperately wanted to belong as I once had.
[bctt tweet=”I began to live a life of self reliance, convincing myself that I didn’t need anybody else. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
I began to search for another community where I could belong. It had been a long time since I had connected with my faith, so I began ‘church shopping.’ I went to a few different services, but none of them felt like home. I tried finding communities outside of my faith, but nothing quite fit.
I couldn’t recreate my church community.
Many millennials share this struggle. It seems as if communities as a whole are disappearing. In a world where it’s so easy to ‘connect’ through a screen and a keyboard, connecting for real, in a face to face, soul to soul way, is fading.
I realized that if I wanted that sense of community, I had to create a community. I began to prioritize connecting with people on a more intimate level. I got more involved in the lives of my friends. I introduced my friends to each other so we could all have a broader network. I began having real, intense conversations about real, intense things. I found the people who shared my morals and values and talked to them about how they lived their lives. I began to volunteer with these friends, so we could be involved in something bigger than us.
I started to feel like I belonged again.
[bctt tweet=”Connecting for real, in a face to face, soul to soul way, is fading. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
I learned that building community and maintaining community is really hard work. It takes showing up for the same people over and over. It takes a lot of listening and vulnerability. It takes a selflessness that is not innate to a lot of people, especially me.
But the hard work put in to creating communities is more than worth it. The sense of belonging gained from being a part of something anchors me in a way that makes moving through the world easier. Being surrounded by community makes the hard times a little easier.
We have some hard times ahead of us right now. Those hard times will be even more difficult if we try to tackle them in isolation. Now, more than ever, is the time to put in the work and create communities. Join a club, volunteer, rediscover your faith. However you choose to do it, find your people and hold on tight.
Community is the way we’re going to make it through.