Finding Your Community

A friend once told me that in her community all of her neighbors took down their fences so their kids could run freely from yard to yard. That’s the sort of world I want my kids to grow up in. Heck, that’s the kind of world I want to grow up in. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be so close with your neighbors that they become your best friends?

Alas, I don’t live in that world. I almost live in the opposite. Our fence recently collapsed in the wind. We need to replace it as soon as we can. I mentioned it to my neighbor since we share part of a fence. The exchange between us was so awkward. I’m not sure why there was a disconnect and such confusion but I realized I don’t have neighbors like my friend. I’m not on the same wavelength as my community. Brendan and I just can’t seem to find our niche out here.

I headed to the supermarket right after that interaction with my neighbor and had four other awkward bump-ins with people as soon as I got there. One lady even yelled at me because I wasn’t moving my cart in the direction she wanted me to move it in. I started to think maybe I was the awkward one. Perhaps I’m not as with it as I think I am. I was really frustrated.

I then noticed two women across the produce section. They looked like they were plucked right out of the Upper West Side and transplanted into the Jersey suburbs. If you’re familiar with New York, then you probably know the type of women I’m talking about. They are progressive, have an eclectic style and are just so incredibly smart. I wished I could connect with those women.

After I checked out, I headed back to my car. I noticed I parked next to someone who had a familiar bumper sticker on it. The sticker represents a local political group I really relate to and follow on Facebook. Just as I finished packing up my car, I turned to see the two women I noticed in the supermarket. They happened to be the owners of that car and bumper sticker.

I felt compelled to speak to them. It turns out one of them is a moderator of the Facebook group. She told me the group, which represents an extremely large district in NJ, created different teams based on all of the towns within the district. She told me I should join mine and get more involved.

So, I just did. I don’t know if being a part of this group is going to produce lifelong friends but at least there’s a possibility. I guess the universe is always listening to our concerns and offering us solutions.

As much as I’m an introvert, I know I need people. I don’t get along with everyone (especially nowadays with all these political looney tunes running around) but being a stay at home mom has given me a glimpse into how lonely a life without others can be. I share a few hellos with adults during school drop off and pick up but for the most part, day after day, I don’t really interact with anyone. It is so isolating.

Community and socializing are important parts of well-being and good health. That’s why studies reveal that people who attend church are healthier. It isn’t because God is placing favor on them because they pray. It’s because they gather together to share support, love and wisdom.

Lack of mental stimulation is one of the reasons why dementia sets in. If you don’t have something challenging you, your brain turns to mush. Socializing with others can stimulate the nerve endings inside your brain. Studies have shown people with a sense of community even have stronger immune systems. Even though it can be hard to admit, we all need each other.

So if you’re feeling like me, take the universe’s cue and connect with some likeminded people. Unless you’re a white nationalist. Please go lock yourself in a closet and let your brain turn to mush.

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