As a spinster by choice, a woman who weaves her own life, i am interested in building a support network that replaces the traditional family (both nuclear and extended) with a network of people i chose. I envision that this network offers mutual support and helps us all live more resilient, secure lives because we know there are others who have our backs. I’d love to have connections where i could call someone to chat, to vent, to cry. And i’d love to know who i could call to do some spontaneous thing like go on a walk, watch a sunset, or even share some dinner. If i sprain my ankle, i am comfortable asking for help because i trust in the mutuality. It is a supportive community where we help each other grow by offering full acceptance to each other no matter how much we stumble or get stuck in patterns (we might point that out gently, though). Ultimately, i would enjoy having this kind of community in a shared living space.
Yesterday, as i was musing over my frustration with one particular strategy of building community, i realized a few things. I am sharing them here in the hopes that they inspire others! I know i am not the only one struggling with this since it’s touching on topics in at least two books (Bowling Alone and The Gifts of Imperfection)
- It helps to have clarity around what exactly i am looking for. In NVC-speak, i want to understand what needs i am trying to meet. This then helps me find strategies, including modifying current strategies.
- Somewhat related: There are seeds of community sprouting in my life. Most of these are virtual, so i wouldn’t be able to do the spontaneous dinner thing. Yet, they are tremendously supportive. I want to continue to nourish these.
- Along the lines of Donna Marie’s comments: Be the community i want to build. Instead of waiting for someone to call, call someone.
- Look at my own points of resistance, which includes figuring out why i might not make that call and what thoughts i might be carrying around that could be counterproductive
- Figure out how i can focus on the things that work in my life rather than what isn’t. I suspect that a gratitude practice can help me counteract that tendency. I want to compost my pessimism!
Ultimately, then, community for me is about authenticity: Creating a space, living in a space, where i can be fully authentic because i trust that others will receive me with care and compassion (and we have the skills to get there if it’s not the first reaction) and where i offer others the same opportunity.