Community. What is it? How do we find it?
What a burning question. My guess is if you are reading this blog post, then you already are on the path to finding community, or have (in the process of) the ability to create a community of individuals who support and challenge you, not just like-minded individuals.
I recently had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Simon Sinek speak. He is a best selling author, and a self proclaimed optimist. I found many of the topics of his lecture surprising in that he covered things that I find to be inherent wants and motivators in life. Things like the importance of community, not going at life alone, and service to others. Maybe it is my Catholic background, but I have always thought it is important to give. And not just give money, but to give time. For it is in this time given that I have learned so many important life lessons, and been able to connect with people who I otherwise would have never come into contact with. I think most of us can agree that the times we have volunteered have not only left us feeling a sense of fullness in knowing that we helped another, but also a sense of gratitude to be able to meet an interesting and often eclectic group of people who are also interested in taking time to connect with others.
So this brings me back to the initial question. What is community and how do we find it? Community as defined by Webster is: “a group of living things that belong to one or more species, interact ecologically, and are located in one place.” But what is community to you? I have been lucky in my life. I have always relied on my athletic abilities to help me build community, and when that was over, I created a new community for myself at the gym where I workout. These physical abilities have helped me always have something that feels like an outlet and a home. I know this is rare, and it has often left me thinking what other ways would I have met people who resonate with me in my adult life if my hobbies were different? It is a question I often dwell upon, but I already know my answer. And that answer is to be an active and engaged participant in my own life. It is too easy to put my AirPods in and drown out the world when I am walking to and from work. To not wear my contacts so everyone and everything looks blurry, so I have an excuse not to say hello to people I know on the street. To never sit after a class whether that be a cooking class or an exercise class, and talk to the teacher or the other students lingering. So back to Simon’s point. We must learn to connect all over again. It is in connecting that we actually learn what personality traits we are drawn to, and what traits rub us the wrong way. We learn that the person next to us every week in yoga is actually an accomplished artist or that the person we were in pizza making class with is actually a local farmer. It is on us to be inquisitive and to stay engaged, but I think you will find, when you do engage, you will be surprised by the things you will find.