Part of the dissonance for me was created by my expectations. I remember as an adolescent being taken to the local Unitarian Church my mother had joined. Knowing a bit about the tenets of this faith community, I expected every person I met there to be loving and open and warm and understanding. That is what I was longing for– a mythical place. You can imagine the disappointment I felt to find that is not exactly what I would be greeted with early on a Sunday morning.
I found myself making the same error again and again in my search for community. I thought: This is it! This is where I belong. I have many things in common with these folks. They get me... And I painfully came to realize that the ways in which we group people– political leanings, age, taste in music, education, choices in sources of food, ethnicity, religion, gender, parents/non-parents– does not guarantee this sense of community I was seeking.
Next I made valiant efforts to create my own community– a babysitting coop, a book group, a mommy support group. None of these happened to work out. I was pretty bummed. I was trying so hard and could not get that it I wanted so badly.
Still, I accepted invitations to be in community with others. I participated, even when I didn’t want to. I signed my kids up for classes at the local Y Family Center, I dragged myself to workout just so I could take a shower uninterrupted by a toddler, I went to my regular volunteer shift even though some folks irked my nerves.
And guess what. Community found me. Two things happened: I began to give up the notion that the perfect community existed and I looked around me and noticed all the places where I was truly accepted, supported, and seen.
And, you guessed it, the community did not look like what I had initially imagined or anticipated. I connected with older folks, younger folks, orthodox folks, liberal folks, bold folks, timid folks, folks with kids and single folks. And I am oh so grateful to have the chance to find my place in any place.
Reverb prompt: Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)