This has been a year of discovery for me. I have learned more of what I need to survive as a person in different situations than I thought I would have to do than ever before. One thing I’ve realized in the last 365 days or so is that I need community; and this was truly a year-long realization in the making. Not in the sense that it took me that long to know that I needed it. What took me all this time was me figuring out what that feeling was and then putting a name and definition to that feeling. So, it wasn’t until about last month that I was finally able to find a name for a phenomenon that I have had since I got to this city.
I have been looking for friends and different clubs and groups to join since I moved. I have collected phone numbers and gone to events and reached out to acquaintances so many times for the past year but I didn’t realize that it was the “feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” that I looking for this whole time.
It’s interesting because now that I know what this feeling is I have been talking to folks I run into about it but no one seems to know what I am talking about?!
Let me start off by saying, my parents raised an independent one. I am good by myself. I can take care of myself…and as an introvert I prefer myself. None of that is what I’m talking about.
I am not talking about needing a posse or wanting to just be near some people, or go to parties. I am talking about community (please see definition above).
However, when you are trying to explain this to people they don’t seem to understand the nuanced different in these states of being and the judgement comes in when they conflate the two states.
I am looking for a group of people that share similar interests or ideas with me that would like to meet up, talk about that thought and then head home. A place where we can come an all bond with each other over our love for thing and our fellow lovers. A place where we all feel safe and belong.
That is what I want.
I can’t tell you the difficult way I have had in explaining this to other people because, I think, they think this is me looking for someone to complete me as a person. When really I just want a familiar place without pretext where we can share and then go home.
Folks have explained to me that they are too independent to need something like that while. living in the town the grew up in or at a job that they have worked at forever not realizing that those places are the very definition of community.
These folks have the false sense that they exist outside of that need because maybe they don’t spend time with their high school best friend or maybe because they don’t go to lunch with their colleagues. However, the familiarity of those things are a mental safety net that they knew existed.
Driving the same freeway that you have driven forever, past your favorite restaurant from college, to go to hangout at a work colleague’s girlfriend’s game night is not a luxury that folks who are new to a town or state or country have.
I can’t stop at the restaurant I love when I need a “bad day pick-me up”. I don’t have the opportunity to stop by my parents house on a random Saturday when I need a household supply. I don’t even know the best free cultural center to visit or city tourist spot to avoid.
I am building a network of all of these places, activities, and things from the ground up; all while looking for some folks who are similar in disposition and thought like me.
So, the next time someone new to a city tells you they are alone (not lonely, these are completely different concepts) and that they are looking for some communities to join, see if you can give them some ideas of where to start. AND make sure, if you can, to invite them in to the circle or solar system of community that you have created for yourself. Trust me they will be forever grateful.