Tribe. Clan. Network.
What comes to mind when you hear these words? Community.
At one time, the community you found yourself a part of was primarily based on your location. With the advent of modern technologies, this is no longer the case. We are part of a community not only based on our location, but also based on our lifestyle, our beliefs, our heritage, our education, our talents, interests or abilities.
Consider your own community. For some, this may be a close-knit family. For others, it is a group of friends that form a bond closer than blood. Your community very likely consists of those there for you through the hardest and the best times. Whether they are family or close friends, these are the people that provide a sense of belonging that help you to thrive, no matter the circumstances.
Let’s take some time to explore the power of community together. How do we find our community if we don’t have one? And why is having a community or a “tribe” important? Three powerful words come to mind — Belonging. Purpose. Connection.
What is the value in finding significance and true belonging within a group? We NEED to need each other. When we imagine that we, as humans, can live in total independence, we are deceiving ourselves. “No man is an island entire of itself.” We yearn for true belonging, but if asked what true belonging is, could we articulate the idea?
“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.” -Brené Brown
This type of belonging exposes us — it requires vulnerability. This type of vulnerability — maintaining our integrity despite our differences — may seem hard and counter-intuitive. For most of us it is. Yet this is a powerful environment where growth happens. While vulnerability takes courage, a solid community will provide us space to learn and improve without rejection.
We all tend to thrive a little more when surrounded by the encouragement and support of others. So few are those people that are empathetic when encountering our human vulnerability, while also possessing the staying power to continue with us and sharpen us along our way toward overcoming and growth. Those few are gems. True gems.
Most all of us desire to contribute and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This desire, if acted upon, moves us beyond the self-interested isolation of our own lives and beyond superficial contacts that we label as “friends”. The concept of community challenges us instead to ENGAGE and to commit ourselves to life together, as a part of a larger whole.
Community furthers our growth by providing a place where we teach and learn from one another and hold ourselves accountable to each other. We hold space here to contribute, to show up, to add value to the lives of others. Community is where we learn to strip away our self-interest in order to serve others. Even within like-minded groups of people, a multitude of individual talents, gifts and abilities can be found.
Being alongside people from other walks of life, people who don’t see the world through your own eyes, may present challenges at times – but we have the opportunity to grow and learn from that challenge. We can broaden our experience of the world, and learn how to communicate and interact in different, more effective ways. We can expand our capacity for relationships.
“Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” -Brene Brown
The ability to make connections is vital to the creation of community.
Consider this: Solitary confinement is viewed as harsh punishment. Have you ever wondered why? Prolonged isolation can torment the mind. We simply aren’t wired to be alone for too long. Forty percent of Americans say they sometimes (or always) feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and twenty percent say they feel lonely or socially isolated. Those are sad statistics. Social isolation actually causes changes in our brains and has detrimental effects on our well-being. This lack of connection can have life threatening consequences on our health.
The good news is that friendships can reduce our risk for mortality and even increase our recovery if we find ourselves sick. At the most basic level, community gives us a group of friends with whom we can interact in a safe and meaningful way, positively impacting our health.
How to Find Your Community…
As a full-time homeschooling mother who juggles a wide variety of responsibilities, I know how isolated life can feel when times are at their busiest and connection may not be a staple. I know how important it is, especially in these times, to have established, authentic relationships and have people to maintain connection with. But where do you start in making these connections? Some areas you may consider when finding your communities are:
What are your values? What things are important to you or do you find interesting? Seek out people who share your values or common interests.
What’s one thing you hope to gain from a community, and what things do you have to offer? Remember, you get out of your community what you put in. Community provides the perfect opportunities for learning from and teaching others.
The first step in finding others like yourself is to show up as yourself. Whether you join a community based on an interest, a hobby, an area you’d like to grow, or whether it’s based on proximity (this often revolves around career, lifestyle or location), finding a community you connect with may take effort. Most of that effort is necessary at the beginning, but what follows is motivation, authentic connection, and fulfillment.
We Are Family
We here at Life Outside the Box seek other like-minded individuals, because we weren’t meant to go it alone. We’re in this game together. We know we are going to face obstacles, and we will do so as a community, learn how to adapt, and make those obstacles the path to our fullest potential.
Our goal is to face things we don’t want to do, and then adapt and accomplish things we never thought possible. To get comfortable being uncomfortable — TOGETHER.
How privileged it is to be granted the sight of another. To walk with them and believe in them, sometimes having just joined them for a brief space of time on a journey unnecessary to go alone.
“Community” has a powerful ring to it. We embody all the word encompasses. But we are more than an online community. We’re a family.