The Power of CommunityMay 21, 2023
Today I want to talk about community. With each phase of life it becomes more challenging to find my people. Maybe I’m done with “kid accomplishment” comparisons, maybe I give less f*cks about the superficial stuff. Maybe I’m just picky, or busy. Whatever it is, I find myself pretty lonely a lot, craving real conversations and people who not only care about me when I can show up in person, but also know what it’s like to have a full plate and disappear for a little bit. Like my friend Yael. We went to graduate school together. I see her once every five years or so when I head to Chicago to teach. We can go weeks or even months without a conversation because she also has kids and a career. But every time we talk we pick right back up - laughing, crying and all the in between. We have tried countless times to schedule a weekend away from our families and it never works out. I don’t hold it against her that it’s hard to get away, much like she doesn’t like me any less because my weekends are spent traveling for cheer or to teach a class. We talk when we can and we appreciate our very real friendship.
When the pandemic hit and the world shut down temporarily, I learned quickly who was a part of my community (and hint: it wasn’t always the people who would invite us for driveway cocktails). I started to realize that not everyone was going to support me, even if I went out of my way to support them. This was true in business and in my personal life. Judgment was all over the place. But my community showed up. My PT biz crew talked frequently. Now, with business back to normal that has dropped off some, but I know I can reach out no matter what may come up. These colleagues who are also dear friends are always there, as I am for them.
I found a unique community in my cheer mom crew. I am fairly confident none of us would know each other if not for our kids. Maybe it’s the amount of time we spend together, or the stress we endure with our daughters in this crazy sport, this bond is like none other. We swiftly move conversation from practice drama and mean girls to family stress, like moving a relative to assisted living, and talking about medical issues. Ok- my background probably facilitates that one, but we do talk about way more than hair bows and cheer music. The best part of this group - it’s NEVER a competition. We take care of each others’ kids like they are our own. It’s not about who is the best, or who can do more; it’s ALWAYS about being there for each other no matter what.
Putting my personal life aside, I feel strongly that we all need, and likely seek out community. It usually comes from shared interests and values. And often it shows up in the places you least expect, like a workplace, or amongst other moms going through similar phases of life. These communities are the real deal. Not the “hi how are you” and chat about that mom, “OMG did you see what she wore to the PTA meeting?” community, but the “tell me what you really want out of life” and “what are you struggling with or celebrating today” group. The people that let you just be you, no matter what that looks like at any particular moment.
We all crave this. We all desire this. And it’s necessary. We are juggling a million balls in the air. Having people that support you, celebrate you and hold you accountable makes a difference in how you may show up in the world. Human beings crave connection. Period.
What communities have been essential for you? Where have you found community when you least expected it? How would you like to cultivate community?
Send me an email - [email protected]. I’d love to hear what you think about this!