5 Ways Your Community Grows Your Balls

The undocumented 6th reason why you need Community: You can't have amazing candid wedding photos without one.

I excel at being boring.

As a homebody and introvert with an overactive “inner world”, I rarely feel lonely or restless. So it’s easy for me to go several weeks without seeing friends or family, choosing instead to spend my free time reading, working on creative projects, and researching topics I’m passionate about.

(This makes my loved ones scratch their heads, and my death row pen pals want to kill me. But not literally– not literally!!)

If I don’t make a deliberate effort to schedule social activities into my planner, I easily lose sight of my Community of awesome homies, like a piece of driftwood losing sight of the shore as it floats out to sea.

And this is a problem. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Your Community kicks your butt into high gear.

Doing what’s good for your body, mind and spirit is cool and all, but it’s an easy path to quit. Thankfully, when you’ve got a Community to whom you are accountable, you tend to follow through on plans, stick to your word, and keep up your health regimen.

Do you really think I would have run 5 miles every day for four years of my life without a team of girls to totally peer pressure me into it? ;-)

2. Your Community helps you grow into who you want to become.

Some people want you to be just like them. Other people just want you to be happy and fulfilled. When you find someone who fits the latter group, keep them in your inner circle. A Community that accepts you for who you are will help you grow into who you want to become.

Case in point: For most of my life I’ve lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood in one of the most expensive counties in the US. There are pros and cons to this. One con is that the average wedding in my zip code costs $42k (according to this calculator), and is  held in a fancy banquet hall. This is what engaged couples in my neighborhood want, and this is what their wedding guests expect. But I didn’t want that kind of wedding. I wanted something more “us” — casual, relaxed, creative, and…well, cheap. So I found solace in an online community of couples who were damn proud of their low cost, casual wedding receptions. They encouraged me to be myself, so that I could feel damn proud of mine.

My community of family, friends, and online buddies has always encouraged authentic living. And it was with their help that we were able to have a wedding that so accurately reflected our deepest core values, minus the fluff. This was the type of bride I wanted to be. Actually, it’s the type of woman I want to be.

During our wedding ceremony, our best friends were invited to gather around us and silently give a special blessing.

3. Your Community inspires you to do important work.

If you live in a bubble, the greatest thing you will ever accomplish is keeping yourself alive. But when you live among the needs of your Community, their pull on your heartstrings will move you to contribute more than you even knew you had.

You probably can’t tell from this website, but I’m shy and introverted as all hell. But when I’m doing work in the community, I don’t know who the heck I am– I put on big events that utilize the arts to bring healing to grieving people; I give college Psychology lectures to busy urban adults; I counsel people struggling with anxiety; and I lead personal development/ spiritual retreats.

I don’t feel like any of this was born in me. But you’d be surprised what Community can inspire in you.

4. Your Community keeps you young, curious and active.

Some people are naturally adventurous. If you’re not one of them, you probably have at least one adventurous soul in your circle of loved ones. Your Community gives you the encouragement, enthusiasm, and guts to try new things (even though their tactics may include teasing and peer pressure). But thank your lucky stars for this. Life would be boring without them.

I wouldn't have camped out in the lion-inhabited plains of the Serengeti without this ballsy group of globe trotters.

5. Your Community is there during a personal sh*t storm.

Last but not least, your loved ones will be there when tragedy strikes, or when you royally screw up your life. They bring over a casserole when you’re feeling like crap. They listen to you when you complain about your ex. They crack a stupid joke and somehow get a smile out of you, even at a funeral.

During my worst personal sh*t storm, I didn’t want to be with my community. I preferred to do my healing and soul searching on my own, for the most part — just me, my journal, and my desperate prayers. In fact, I deliberately chose to be in the company of strangers, because somehow, it felt like a break from the pain of my life. But simply knowing I had a loving, reliable, and compassionate village to come home to made me feel safe enough to venture out on my own and rediscover Hope.

Final Thoughts

As a counselor who has listened to the stories of terminally ill patients and grieving families, I assure you that when you are on your deathbed, you will be most grateful for (and proudest of) the deep human connections you made throughout your life.

So if you’ve got a great Community, make sure to stay connected with them, no matter the distance and time between you. Kiss the ground they walk on, and occasionally offer to drive them to the airport/ help them move into a new home/ babysit their kids and pets, etc. Start a creative project together. Join forces and get behind an important cause that will save the world.

We were designed to live within a Community, and Communities are designed to breathe life into us.

Your Turn: How has your Community breathed life into you?

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5 Responses to 5 Ways Your Community Grows Your Balls

  1. Pingback: Why You Need Many (Types Of) Friends | a brave life

  2. Steph says:

    When I frist read this post I was about to get on a train back to Maryland for an annual trip to see my college friends and celebrate 15 years of friendship (as an aside, who on earth has it been 15 years since I started college!!!)

    As an extrovert who adores her “tribe,” this gave me chills, made me teary eyed and had my inner voice screaming YES!!

    It also made me think of my own wedding and how our wedding party choices reflected the importance of our community in our lives. In truth, The Amish One would havd been perfectly happy having only a Formal Wedding Party that was the same size as yours, but it was very important me to have all of the women friends, from each of the different parts of my life, standing by my side as I began a new transition from “Single Steph” to “married Steph.” It is a choice I (and I think we?) have never regretted making, even with the crazy logistics of having 10 bridesmaids and 8 groomspeople.

    I know for sure the ladies on my side supported me, uplifted me, shared in my sorrows and joys and were an integral part of the person I was when I met The Amish One, and I needed to recognize that on our wedding day.

    Thanks again for such a great post!

    • Kimberly Eclipse says:

      Aww! That’s awesome to hear. Reunions are really important and I’m glad you’ve kept up that tradition with your college friends. (And 15 years? I know. Crazy.)

      I loved your idea of recognizing women who represent different parts of your life. I was ready to do something like that with our bridal party, but Brian’s list of people was waaay smaller than mine (which is weird because I’m the introvert and he’s the extrovert), so we decided to keep it to just a best man and matron of honor. But including our community of friends in our wedding ceremony (albeit in an unusual way) was super important for the same reasons it was important to you. Friends rock! Oh, and speaking of which… I’m glad you’re in the photo of our Friendship blessing. :)

  3. You Know Me says:

    We were designed to live within a Community, and Communities are designed to breathe life into us.

    I would go one step further and suggest that the wider, and more diversified your community becomes will help determine how rich and diversified your life becomes.I have always found this to be true in my own life and as parents we taught our son the same principle.

    • Kimberly Eclipse says:

      So true! In addition to injecting more joy into my life, I find that my diverse community (I’m talking race, sexual orientation, personal politics, religion, and economic status) has made me more compassionate and a better problem solver. I can only hope to widen my community even further and see where it takes me.

      I can see how your efforts have shaped Brian. He is so effortlessly nonjudgmental and compassionate, and it’s definitely inspired me to want to raise our children in a similarly diverse community.

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