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For the Love of Community

I have been thinking a LOT about community lately!

More on this in a second, but first I'd like to invite you to pause for a moment and close your eyes. Bring your hands to your heart and take a couple deep breaths. Envision your ideal community. Look around at who you see and notice who you don't see. Does any of that surprise you? In your ideal community, what did they look like? What races and skin tones were present? How did everyone dress? Were there any folks with disabilities? Any neurodiverse people in your group (like ADHD and/or Autism spectrum)? Did anyone vote for someone you didn't vote for? Does everyone in your ideal community eat the same? Do they believe what you believe about recreational drugs and alcohol? You get where I'm going with this! Here's the thing - each person we encounter regularly is in our community (whether we like it or not!). And, of course it's sweet to dream of everyone just vibing with similar perspectives and ideologies. However, reality has shown us time and again that sometimes we get "that person" sitting across from us at the metaphorical table. So what do we do then? If you had a day to stop nuclear war with that other person - would you be able to do it? Looking at American society today, I see one of the deepest fracture points we've experienced as a national community. It's make it or break it time, and it's on every one of us to fine tune our community-building and peace-making skills to pull ourselves together. Because - you know what? It's ok that we don't all believe the same thing. Beliefs are formed in childhood and we have each experienced unique circumstances as we grew up. So then what? We look for the common threads. EVERY person has a core subconscious desire to know they're worthy of love. (In fact, I believe we all spend our whole lives trying to prove/disprove this.) We each are animal, human, and spiritual beings whether we like to believe it or not. Most everyone longs for connection, acceptance, and understanding. In America, our differences are exacerbated by the cultural ideology of Individualism. Because if you can't do it, achieve it, or fix it well then there must be something wrong with you! (I hope you read the sarcasm in that statement!) We're on our own as far as taking care of our own needs, but our hearts beg us to connect. In fact, we THRIVE when we connect. So what's a person to do? Recognize the toxicity in some of the growth, personal development, and spiritual tropes telling you that It's ALL about you. Because yes it is AND it isn't. We need to do our inner work AND we need a supportive community. Fabeku Fatunmise, a wise artist, author, and collaborative business leader, once said that "Community care always includes self-care." Because your community loves and supports you in caring for yourself. "But the reverse isn't always true. Self-care rarely involves community care." This isn't a diss on the value of self-care. It's another space for AND, a little nuance to add to your understanding. According to that cultural belief in Individualism, if your well is empty - it's on you to fill it! But if you've got nothing to give yourself, or you're throwing a cupful at a time, barely making a puddle ... What are you supposed to do? Keep throwing cups down in futility? HELL NO. That doesn't even make sense when you think about it! That's when we should be able to reach out and ask for AND receive help. Think about it. How many people do you know that have their wells pretty low right now? What's the state of your own well? I know mine's been barely providing me a drink or two the past couple years. Look beyond the optics of social media and actually (personally) check on your friends and loved ones. Heck, check in with the people that you meet! You never know when someone just needs to be heard, held, or supported. And, if you find yourself feeling as if you don't belong to a community, take a look within and see what you can do to create it!

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