Community- Why You Should Prioritize It and How To Find Yours
What do you feel when you hear that word? A sense of belonging? Peace? Or maybe emptiness or lack?
The older I get, and the more life I go through, the more I realize just how much community means to me. This past year more than ever, I have felt this strong sense of NEEDING a community, a strong and dependent support system to lean on during tough times and celebrate all of life’s joys with.
And I know I am not the only one that has a deep need to belong.
As humans, we all need that. Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, outgoing or a homebody, or maybe a little bit of everything- we all have a natural instinct to be a part of a “pack.” Social connectivity is highly correlated with wellbeing and good health.
Which means, you can be eating all the kale and doing 50 pull ups a day but if you don’t have a sense of community, a tribe, a group that feels like home, you are lacking.
And if you can’t take my word for it, look at what is called a Blue Zone. Blue Zones are regions that have an average population of some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. There are 9 pillars that researchers believe make up the health of these Zones and explain why seemingly ordinary humans are living extraordinarily longer/healthier lives (if you want to learn more, check this site out). One of these pillars is social connectivity and having a “tribe.”
But not just any group, specifically a group where you feel supported and encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle.
I feel beyond grateful that I am constantly surrounded by a loving community that I know will be there for every version of me, in all phases of life. To feel infinite support to grow and learn and love fully is truly the best feeling in the world.
The best news about community? It’s not too late to create this support system in your own life. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, what you do, it’s totally possible to get out and find your own community.
1-Get out of your comfort zone
I know that putting yourself out there is uncomfortable and scary. But I’ve learned that the best connections come from being vulnerable and willing to receive. Maybe going to a meetup with people you don’t know so well sounds intimidating, but the reward is so worth it! Go to that conference that feels out of your league, join a book club, train for a race with a group. Finding community will require you to do things that are a little challenging, but I assure you that’s where the magic happens.
2-Be authentically you
Finding your authentic community isn’t going to happen if you’re trying to be someone you’re not. What if you pretend you like certain things, just to meet people? You’ll form relationships based off of characteristics that don’t even describe you and before you know it you’re spending all of your time trying to impress these people and keep up with interests that you don’t even care about in the first place. Trust that by following your passions and being unapologetically you, the right people will flow into your life.
Having a community will require some dedication on your part. You actually have to WANT the community, and make an effort to put friends (and family!) first. Community means you contribute just as much as you receive. There’s nothing more fulfilling than giving just as much (if not more) as you take. Make time for the people you are developing close relationships with. Invest in people, and I promise you’ll find that they invest in you in return.
4-Listen more than you talk
Ahh the art of active listening. It’s a tough one. But in order to sustain these wonderful support groups and tribes, you’ll need to learn how to listen and listen well. Active listening takes practice, oddly enough, but a good place to start is by being fully present. Give the speaker your full attention, and put your distractions (phone, duh) down. Focus your awareness on understanding, not thinking about the advice you’re immediately going to give when they stop talking. Most importantly, listen without judgement.
Building a community right where you physically live is incredible, but it’s just as good if you have friends and support systems sprinkled in different locations. Because community is something I prioritize, I have that support and connection in multiple states! It’s totally possible. Plus it’s 2019, and the possibility of forming communities online is alive and well! Just make sure you’re making time for face to face connections, too.