We hear it all the time: you need to connect with and be involved in a community to feel connected, wanted, loved, needed. Sense of community can prevent or minimise mental health issues and increase wellbeing. As humans, we need connection with others. We need to feel valued and useful.
So often though, I struggle with this. Admittedly, I sometimes isolate myself because it feels too hard to try. I feel different, unable to fit in, on the outer edge of things. I often long to feel a part of things, to find my ‘tribe’, somewhere I really fit in.
At the end of a busy weekend, I found myself feeling more content than usual. My recent restlessness had calmed and I wondered what had made the difference. On reflection, I realised it was community. I felt very much a part of not just one, but several tribes.
The weekend began and ended with two diverse groups of dedicated women sharing their passion to help others and coming together to learn more. The two groups could not have been more different. In the first, I was the youngest; in the second quite a bit older than the other participants. On both occasions my life stage was different to the other ladies. Potentially I could have felt left out, like I didn’t belong, but I didn’t. Differences seemed irrelevant, as we were joined by a common cause. In Friday’s group, the focus was on spreading joy and introducing children and their communities to Jesus through Operation Christmas Child, whereas Sunday’s group was focused on sharing the benefits of essential oils and helping families improve their lives through building a doTERRA business.
So different, yet surely the same. Like-minded women finding time out of our busy schedules to share knowledge, support others and learn more in order to share our passion to benefit others. Let’s be honest, success in either venture would also mean benefiting ourselves, whether by building relationships, feeling good about helping others or monetary gain, but this was not the focus this weekend.
Between these two events, I participated in a team charity event at my local gym. It was fun; we dressed in silly costumes, worked out for longer than usual and attempted to answer trivia questions. And we laughed. A lot. Again, the people involved were so different, but we were all there for one reason, to support a friend undertaking a charity swim.
We were a community, united despite our differences. Surely that is what it’s all about?
I ended my weekend with these thoughts:
How blessed I am to have the support of strong, generous, passionate women around me.
How privileged I am to have opportunities to learn from and share with others.
I AM part of a community.
I DO have a tribe.
How precious it is to realise this. It is truly something I have missed and it’s wonderful to rediscover it.
Maybe, just maybe, it was there all the time and I simply had to make a little effort and open myself to it.