On community…

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship, and community, and all that jazz lately.  Yesterday, there was a phenomenal post about this exact topic.I’ve written about my own shifting feelings on this whole issue, but I realized I left out a huge thing that’s making me feel better about this community business.  See, if there’s one thing that seems to be common with 20-somethings, it’s this general feeling of confusion regarding friendships and community and the end of traditional relationships.  So, recently, after thinking a lot, I decided to take some action.

For me, my sense of community goes back a long, long time.  I was raised in the church, where I was automatically surrounded by a million adults who loved me, built in playmates and companions via church youth events and a general sense of community.  I loved it.  And while it’s been many years since I’ve been directly involved in church, I still remember that underlying feeling of safety and love and care.  The truth is that the community there hurt me.  Deeply.  Being a divorcee, asking the hard questions, and being a bit silly or too honest at times does not necessarily make the best impression.

But, see, it’s not just that community.  I always feel a bit out of place: wondering if I made a joke that crossed a line (actually, that’s basically a given, so…) or wore the wrong thing or am not ____________ enough for said “group.”  I spend time analyzing whether or not people actually enjoy me, and then acting as if I don’t care either way if they do.  It’s not that I don’t have friends—I do!  I have many wonderful, amazing people in my life; however, group things are weird.  I never feel quite part of the group, like I’m part of that center core.

The thing I’ve learned in the past few months is that EVERYONE feels this way.  Every.  Single.  Person.  At one time or another, everyone feels out of place or unimportant, or questions themselves and their role in the group.  Learning this alone was comforting in a serious way.  I sometimes think that I’m the only one who feels or does or thinks certain things.  But usually, if I’m brave enough to share, I find I’m not alone.

Despite my own awkwardness and general reluctance, I missed community.  I missed having a group where I know I’m supported and included and loved.  I missed being around people with my own ideals.

So, I started one.  Yep.  Just created my own community.

I thought of some girls I know who are like me—maybe they’d done church, but were disillusioned.  Maybe they live with their significant other, or enjoy wine or other seemingly-illicit activities.  Mostly, I looked for girls who liked to laugh.  Who are not afraid to cry or talk about the real stuff that’s going on in their jobs, their relationships, their family life, their feelings and emotions.  Girls who I thought I could talk to, and spent time with and enjoy.

We meet every other week, in one of our houses.  We eat snacks and drink wine and talk.  It’s not a Bible study or anything serious: just a bunch of girls who’ve made an intentional comittment to hang out, be real together and enjoy life.  Yes, it’s new, but I have high hopes for this group.

Other ways I’ve found community?  Daily emails with this gal.  Reading and commenting on 20SB and seeing the responses I get.  Twittering back at people who interest me.  Emailing Bloggers I enjoy.  Befriending the new teachers at school.  In short: giving a shit about others.

I really think that last part is key.  You need to care.  Sure, you’ve probably read it in every dating advice column or book on making friends and whatnot.  But in all honesty, it works.  I think it’s worth taking the risk to put yourself out there, to form the relationships you are looking for.  You can’t feel excluded in your own life, unless you let yourself.

I’m no expert at this.  I’m just saying: it’s worth it to put yourself out there, to see what you can develop by putting yourself out there.  As Kyla says, “It’s not perfect, it doesn’t happen all the time and it doesn’t work all the time, but sending one short & sweet e-mail a day really agrees with me so I’m sticking with it. Because being part of any community is about my actions, and kindness seems like a good place to start.”

So, go out.  Take action.  Be kind.  Stick with it.

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8 Comments

Filed under life with titch

8 responses to “On community…

  1. Ari

    I’ve (we’ve) done the same thing here – we meet at least once a month for dinner and drinks, no boys and no excessive text messaging. We talk and check on each other through out the week. Its nice. For me, my community was always friends (through church), but we scattered after high school graduation, and I’ve been longing for that feeling again. I’m glad that you’ve found it too.

  2. Yep, yep! I have a group of 52 girls (and of course, not all of them can always show up to each event)who are part of my “Women Who Dine” club. Each person (or a pair) takes turns hosting whatever kind of dinner party they like. The host or hosts take care of the entree and everyone else brings the sides and drinks. It’s been a smash hit! Evite has been great for this! Feel free to snag that idea and help strengthen the sisterhood!

  3. I should also mention that I didn’t even know all of these women to begin with. It was an “invite a friend” kind of thing. Or I just knew them as acquaintences, originally.

  4. Oops… acquaintances 😛
    Ok. I’m done now. 🙂

  5. Madeline

    Love it- I couldn’t agree more with anything and I’m SOOO excited about our new group, too! It’s really an outlet for me and gets me excited for meeting new girlfriends!
    And yeah, put yourself out there- it’s hard, but you get what you give and it’s worth it in the end.

  6. Christina

    I am so glad you are enjoying your ladies nights! Wish I could be there! Connecting to a kind and spunky soul such as yourself has made my “community” much brighter! :o)

  7. Oh, I’m so glad you do this too! My friend Ashley and I started a girl’s night group that gets together once a month – someone from the group hosts each month, so the location rotates, and we all just bring appies and chat. We never dreamed that it would take off the way it did, but I guess we weren’t the only girls craving a group connection like this, and the core members of the group who show up each week have all become my main group of friends now and we hang out all the time, outside of girls night as well. I LOVE it and am so glad we started this idea, it has brought so much joy to my life to have developed strong friendships with these girls.

  8. Gina

    HIGH HOPES Huh? Wowzers!! I need to step it up a notch…. TEASERS!! I love you Amy! You are truly one of the BEST people I have had the privilege to call “friend”.

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