Lately, I have been thinking about community, versus the nature of my current lifestyle in our generation.
In my life, I live far away from my family members. I don’t yet have a family of my own. After so many years, most of us generally choose not to live with roommates. Sometimes I travel for work, leaving even my network of friends behind. We’ve finished with school. We may or may not attend church, book group, supper club. Hanging out in the cafe doesn’t count as having community.
During the past three years, I’ve spent almost 30 months living overseas, away from friends and family. There were manufactured communities to tap into, including the US embassy community or the NGO community, but it’s not the same. In this type of environment, sometimes it’s great to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise befriend. You will have a social life, places to go on the weekends. But sometimes it can feel like a suit that doesn’t fit, attempting to forge connections when maybe there aren’t many.
I made specific decisions – to move back to a place I loved, to concentrate on my friendships, and to become more involved with community. The latter one I’m still working on.
Involvement is one thing, but what I really need is to be accountable to a group of people, to know that we have mutual ongoing regular expectations of each other.
As well, in the process of promoting my burgeoning businesses, I have to think about the concept of community. What are the expectations? What do I get out of it? In the case of Etsy, I can join “teams,” and if used correctly, this experience should provide advice, moral support, and traffic to my store. I’m also being pulled into Twitter, Facebook, and others, and still sorting out the roles vs. the time commitment.
What I’m looking forward to most, though, is meeting more Etsy and doula contacts locally. I loved my doula training weekend, learning with a group of 14 amazing women, and attending a doula informational session (aimed at pregnant moms, but I took a lot from observing the group model). That in-person sharing of experiences is so essential.
I’m also seeking opportunities to market my handmade items locally, which will give me a chance to get to know my fellow residents, clients, service providers, neighbors. It’s nice to make a sale online, but it is that much more fulfilling to discuss face to face, hear about why the person wants it and to whom it’s going if it’s a gift – to hear the story and share a bit of mine, too.