Sorry, not sorry about slipping a song title into my blog title (kinda, sorta). But really, what is community good for?
2020 has given me cause to step back and look at the ways I view community and how important it is to me. The division, fear and isolation of this year has done nothing to buffer impact on the disconnect we have from our communities. I’ve also realised what I thought it meant to be a part of a community is at times charged with fear and resistance of judgment, not fitting in to cliques and differing opinions.
Community and connection is vital to our overall long term wellbeing. It’s in our DNA, the remnants of our needs as cave dwelling packs, hunter gather societies and the value placed on every being within our villages to participate, build and contribute to the survival of the collective. It cannot be denied, we need it to survive.
We often think that our community is already chosen for us and they are the ones geographically closest to us, the school mums, or the sports mums, or the people in our gym. They definitely can be, but the more we diversify in human experiences the more work we have to do to find the group or groups of people who ruly have out backs. Its not always easy but doing the work to find your people is a true experience in belonging.
Simply conforming to the mindset of humans in your immediate surroundings isn’t always the best path to reverent connections and great pockets of joy in your life.
I have had a revolving door of community in my path to finding out what it really means to me. Funnily enough the more I get a taste of what it feels like to be part of a connected group of humans the more I realise its a very natural state of being. I want to be in spaces in a space where people are choosing to level up consistently while making space for flaws, rest, meltdowns, communication, empathy and magic. It is not without resistance or conflict, but I am rediscovering what it means to belong in the world as I am. Warts and all.
It has been an opportunity to dig deep on what is is truly important, where my true values lie and who I want to show up as in the world. That way I invite and attract the kind of people who help me feel “at home”.
We are hard wired for connection, without connection, love and belonging there is always suffering. Without people to see us in our dark moments and joyous expression we cower in the corner with shame as though something is inherently wrong with us.
We fragment and hide the parts of ourselves that feel ugly, useless and unwanted in fear that they will cause us to be cast aside from our clan. Those parts get increasingly lonely from not being seen, not having a voice. So, we fade into the background and loneliness can easily overtake us. Even when we have social relationships we can still feel desperately lonely.
Loneliness is a serious and underappreciated public health risk. It is a risk for (among others) heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and suicide. The Australian Loneliness report indicates that 1 in 4 adult Australians are lonely and one in eight young people aged 16–25 reported a very high intensity of loneliness. It also says that loneliness is related to the quality rather than the quantity of relationships. Which makes sense to say that being surrounded by people who aren’t your people will result in unmet needs and a craving for meaningful connections.
I think there’s a deep need for local and global community healing after the tumultuous year we’ve had in 2020. Perhaps a rethink about how as members of a geographical or demographical community we impact those people who are part of the space we take up.
However, just accepting anyone into your circle and calling it community isn’t always the best most reverent way forward.
We could benefit from being more intentional with the people we include in our close circles and perhaps take a deeper, longer-term look at community as a whole. How we treat the elderly and death. How we raise our children, how we treat the people birthing and raising the next generation of children. Its deeply layered and so significantly important to our wellbeing.
Within a community of folks who want to see us thrive. When surrounded by people who show us we can trust them, who are empathetic, open to growth and expansion and who find a place to hold all of your ugliness and grief and pain and healing, along with the beauty and light, we bloom.
I always like to think that there is a place where ancient wisdom and modern living can meet and be cohesive. A place we can call community home again. Where, if we recognise that as humans our biological and psychological needs are impacted by the ways we live and the ways we try to fit in rather than accepting the ways we are we might find deeper belonging and connection.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Who are your community, how did you find them? What is impact has loneliness had on you? Are you still searching for your people?