Community is defined as, “friendship between different people or groups, and a sense of having something in common” (Collins Dictionary).
In 2018, I began teaching a class about youth mentoring at our local university. I wanted to give the students applicable resources to use while they were serving in a local youth organization. It began by asking myself what I did to get through the tough days of being in the lives of students. I’m better at what I do because of the people that I’ve intentionally put around me to build me up, stand beside me in good and hard times, and fight for me when I’m tired.
I can talk about “community” all day but that doesn’t mean that anyone really knows what I’m talking about. It’s just another buzzword these days. But what I needed to explain is the action of intentionally inviting others to be their cheerleaders, advocates, mentors, and more when serving others becomes exhausting, overwhelming, and simply hard. It takes building trust, vulnerability, and honesty with different people, creating something that gives you the ability to have something in common.
“It takes a village to raise a child.” Here’s the deal: I honestly don’t believe that the village stops raising kids when they become adults either. The village made up of people that step in when needed to encourage, inspire, discipline, help, etc. in order to maintain a communal sense of shared values, responsibilities, and life lessons. But before we can get to the villagers, we need to talk about the actual village.
The kind of person you are relates to the type of village that you’ll build.Lindsay Bridges, Building Bridges
For example, I’m extraverted; I’m an external processor; and I can go deep into conversations and life with a pretty good number of people. My village is more like a town, although through life circumstances this past year, I’m learning that my town might be too big and I need to hone it in a little. But, maybe you are like my best friend who jokes that her village is an island. She in introverted; she’s an internal processor; and she keeps a tight circle of people around her that know what’s really going on in her life.
Here’s your permission slip (thank you, Brene Brown): it’s okay to be either one of those or somewhere in between. YOU get to decide what kind of village are you building. But at the heart of it, take some time to intentionally think through these questions:
- Does sharing about your life with a larger group of people or smaller group of people give you life, joy, and happiness?
- When something hard happens in your life, do you share it with others? Why or why not?
- Are you an internal or external processor about daily activities?
- Are my ways the healthiest and life-giving for me and my boundaries?
What kind of village are you going to build around you to encourage, inspire, motivate, and protect you?