I excel at being boring.
As a homebody and introvert with an overactive “inner world”, I rarely feel lonely or restless. So it’s easy for me to go several weeks without seeing friends or family, choosing instead to spend my free time reading, working on creative projects, and researching topics I’m passionate about.
(This makes my loved ones scratch their heads, and my death row pen pals want to kill me. But not literally– not literally!!)
If I don’t make a deliberate effort to schedule social activities into my planner, I easily lose sight of my Community of awesome homies, like a piece of driftwood losing sight of the shore as it floats out to sea.
And this is a problem. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Your Community kicks your butt into high gear.
Doing what’s good for your body, mind and spirit is cool and all, but it’s an easy path to quit. Thankfully, when you’ve got a Community to whom you are accountable, you tend to follow through on plans, stick to your word, and keep up your health regimen.
Do you really think I would have run 5 miles every day for four years of my life without a team of girls to totally peer pressure me into it?
2. Your Community helps you grow into who you want to become.
Some people want you to be just like them. Other people just want you to be happy and fulfilled. When you find someone who fits the latter group, keep them in your inner circle. A Community that accepts you for who you are will help you grow into who you want to become.
Case in point: For most of my life I’ve lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood in one of the most expensive counties in the US. There are pros and cons to this. One con is that the average wedding in my zip code costs $42k (according to this calculator), and is held in a fancy banquet hall. This is what engaged couples in my neighborhood want, and this is what their wedding guests expect. But I didn’t want that kind of wedding. I wanted something more “us” — casual, relaxed, creative, and…well, cheap. So I found solace in an online community of couples who were damn proud of their low cost, casual wedding receptions. They encouraged me to be myself, so that I could feel damn proud of mine.
My community of family, friends, and online buddies has always encouraged authentic living. And it was with their help that we were able to have a wedding that so accurately reflected our deepest core values, minus the fluff. This was the type of bride I wanted to be. Actually, it’s the type of woman I want to be.
3. Your Community inspires you to do important work.
If you live in a bubble, the greatest thing you will ever accomplish is keeping yourself alive. But when you live among the needs of your Community, their pull on your heartstrings will move you to contribute more than you even knew you had.
You probably can’t tell from this website, but I’m shy and introverted as all hell. But when I’m doing work in the community, I don’t know who the heck I am– I put on big events that utilize the arts to bring healing to grieving people; I give college Psychology lectures to busy urban adults; I counsel people struggling with anxiety; and I lead personal development/ spiritual retreats.
I don’t feel like any of this was born in me. But you’d be surprised what Community can inspire in you.
4. Your Community keeps you young, curious and active.
Some people are naturally adventurous. If you’re not one of them, you probably have at least one adventurous soul in your circle of loved ones. Your Community gives you the encouragement, enthusiasm, and guts to try new things (even though their tactics may include teasing and peer pressure). But thank your lucky stars for this. Life would be boring without them.
5. Your Community is there during a personal sh*t storm.
Last but not least, your loved ones will be there when tragedy strikes, or when you royally screw up your life. They bring over a casserole when you’re feeling like crap. They listen to you when you complain about your ex. They crack a stupid joke and somehow get a smile out of you, even at a funeral.
During my worst personal sh*t storm, I didn’t want to be with my community. I preferred to do my healing and soul searching on my own, for the most part — just me, my journal, and my desperate prayers. In fact, I deliberately chose to be in the company of strangers, because somehow, it felt like a break from the pain of my life. But simply knowing I had a loving, reliable, and compassionate village to come home to made me feel safe enough to venture out on my own and rediscover Hope.
As a counselor who has listened to the stories of terminally ill patients and grieving families, I assure you that when you are on your deathbed, you will be most grateful for (and proudest of) the deep human connections you made throughout your life.
So if you’ve got a great Community, make sure to stay connected with them, no matter the distance and time between you. Kiss the ground they walk on, and occasionally offer to drive them to the airport/ help them move into a new home/ babysit their kids and pets, etc. Start a creative project together. Join forces and get behind an important cause that will save the world.
We were designed to live within a Community, and Communities are designed to breathe life into us.