Monday, October 17, 2011
Growing up, I'd never experienced a real sense of community. I was an only child and my extended family wasn't close. We went to church on the major holidays and I never went to Sunday School nor camp of any kind. School itself was also challenge for me - I'd try out for all of the social activities, but was rarely chosen. I joined the Art Club in high school but it didn't last.
For most of my life I felt like an outsider and for many years I wasn't even sure what it meant to have real friends. I always had friends, but none of those "I've got your back no matter what and I'll never judge you and love you unconditionally" type friends.
But now I am surrounded by them and I am very thankful.
So what changed? I'm sure maturity has a lot to do with it, but more than anything, I believe it was by finding a community of like minded people to associate myself with. For some people, their families are their community, and some find it in church, or maybe at bingo night. Maybe for others it's the garden club, or the local knitting circle or book club. Via a softball league or through volunteer activities- you name it, there is likely something out there for you if you are willing to look for it.
For the longest time, I thought my co-workers were my community - and it would take me over 20 years to discover that this was not the truth. None of my jobs were chosen "careers" and for many of my associates, this was likely the same. Though we would spent a good amount of time together each week, I didn't really share much in common with them as our jobs were not our passion. I think it took me witnessing others whose attitudes towards life were so very different (not better or worse, not good nor bad, just different) from mine for this reality to finally sink in.
I found that I finally "fit in" when I first started going to drum circles about 6 years ago. I found them to be a place where I could express myself musically without judgment pertaining to skill. Strange as it may sound, I didn't just gain a community by starting to drum, I gained the freedom of personal expression (as my writing and art would follow the drum) AND a whole new way of thinking based upon core beliefs which I chose to serve my highest good. This manifested by way of easy conversation with people which I shared a common thread - in this group I never felt judged and could speak freely. This allowed me to ask hard questions and make discoveries about who I was, and who I was to be. Like minded people understand and support you.
I think when you find an activity which you not only enjoy, but which can allow you to turn the busyness of the world off, and then share that activity within a group, you've found your community.
Though I might not drum as often as I did 6 years ago, my circle has expanded to include people sharing similar spiritual/emotional beliefs, which may have not been previously possible since I had for a long time lacked strong convictions about who I was and how I believed the world to work.
I know that I still have a lifetime to work on what I believe to be true, but for now, I know that I will never be alone in spirit unless I choose to be - and this is the same for you.