Community Accepts You As You Are, With A Heart Prepared To Walk With You
The other day, I found myself thinking about how we, or at least me, can easily fall into the trap of looking at who is around us for cues as to what we need to do to be accepted. Even as adults, we crave a group of people who accepts us. We desire community. If that community is not being met, we look at adjustments we need to make in order to be invited into the fold.
If the people around you are making you work for their community — jumping through hoops to be liked or “important enough” — they are not your community. Your community is full of people who love and value you for you. True community does not ask that you put on a different persona or beg for attention.
True community lets you come as you are and grows with you.
I think we under-appreciate this in our current climate. Instead of seeking out true community, we look for the quick fix. The easy Instagram. The people who can make us feel momentary value. While this appears to be harmless at first, you may find yourself left high and dry when that momentary value is discarded, having worn off its shiny new appeal for this "community."
True community doesn’t leave you hanging.
I think many twenty-somethings are confused about this. Tired from change, stressed from societal pressure to climb the ladder quickly, and unsure about where to find a community post-graduation means you have a lot of lonely people in their mid-twenties.
But no one likes to talk about that. After all, your twenties are “the best years of your life,” right?
I grabbed coffee with a gal who is only a couple of years my senior the other day. One of the things she said really stuck out to me.
“The first year in the city can be really lonely.”
So simple, and so profound.
No one tells you that. No one talks about how your first bit of post-grad takes you from communities you’ve spent years forming. We all know it’s an inevitable reality, but we don’t realize how much it impacts multiple aspects of our lives until we’re knee-deep in the “who am I going to eat dinner with tonight?” stage of life.
If you asked a group of twenty-somethings what their biggest fear is, you’d begin to notice two main answers: failure and being alone.
The group that sees peers hitting milestones and surrounded by people, they are terrified of the opposites. So they seek out cures. A community is a cure for being alone.
But like all great cures, this too takes time. Building communities of brick and mortar instead of Legos (Heaven forbid) means putting in the work. Sometimes putting in the work is lonely. Sometimes putting in the work seems pointless. But nothing is sweeter than having people in your corner you can trust without a shadow of a doubt.
Take the time to build your community. Do not become consumed in pleasing people who's intentions serve themselves, search for humans who love earnestly, strive for growth, and accept you with open arms. Discover people who care enough to go out of their way to help you. Look for those who pick up the phone, who ask you what you need (and work to help meet those needs), and who never make you second guess if they "like you" or not. I'm not saying it's an easy, quick journey, but it sure beats a band-aid fix.
On the flip side, you are able to participate in great community as a community member. Those self-serving people we want to steer clear of? Don't be one. Realize that in order to truly find community, you must have the same genuine spirit for others. Love people as they are. Have honest, vulnerable conversations that lead to knowing someone's authentic self. Don't hold back because you're afraid of what others may think, and never judge someone else for doing the same.
I think our generation — our world — would be so much farther along if we sought to provide and receive this genuine community. We’re halfway there — authenticity is what we look for in most things we do. Yet our execution seems to be flawed, thanks to selfishness creeping into our lives and “quick fixes” at our fingertips. Maybe it takes getting knocked down a few times to realize a flaw.
Walk through life with people. Encourage change and growth. Foster a sense of belonging and acceptance. Live out the mission of community and you’ll soon find yours.