To be totally honest – I am a huge introvert. As hard as I have worked to overcome that part of who I am in my life, work around it in every way possible, and pretend it doesn’t exist, it does. I am very shy and very introverted by nature.
I very poignantly remembered that as I was walking towards the Huntsburg Pumpkin roll hill with Ty the other day. I remembered that I have a hard time making friends, a really hard time “making conversation,” and a very difficult time figuring out what community actually is and really means. But – I am figuring it out slowly but surely. I am getting better at all this.
There are times when I am discouraged with my innate qualities or “issues,” for lack of a better term, but there are also times like tonight when I am incredibly thankful for the way that I am. The bitter times make the sweet times sweeter, and when I get to sit back and realize that I have been so richly blessed, like I am doing right now, the bitter times make it all worth it.
The grand advantage of being introverted and refusing to let it control your life is that you get to examine the qualities of extroversion, and you get to examine what social dynamics occur in groups of people. I really enjoy doing that, and I have really enjoyed re-learning all the components that make up friendship and community.
You see, despite my eccentricities, I have managed to find a few very good friends, and I am incredibly thankful for that. Even though there have been some challenging parts of my life, and even though there have been times that I have made myself not very worthy of being friends with, there are people who have overlooked my shortcomings and taught me about friendship and community.
Some of them have done so without even realizing that they have been doing that. Some of them have stuck with me even when I tried to chase them away. Some of them are still becoming my friends and don’t even know that they’re sowing kindness and goodness into a guy like me who needs all that I can get.
Today, I want to take a moment and thank Rachel; Ty, Sheryl, and Lynda; Craig, Mike, and Amy; Sue, and Mary Ann. I want to thank Tony; and Shell, Stacey; and Jesse, Jeff, and Carol. I just wanted to say thank you for being my friends. Thank you to all of you who I don’t have room to name here and to those of you whom I am getting to know and whom I look forward to calling friends. The word “friend” is a serious and sacred word to me, and so the patience and kindness that so many of you show me means so much. Thank you for teaching me about friendship.
I deeply appreciate those who are supporting me personally, supporting Geauga News, and teaching me all about community and friendship. In years past, I lost everything that I had, and it’s taken me a long time to trust anyone again. Despite my quirks, and despite my shortcomings as a friend, you have all been good friends to me and helped me re-learn what the words community and friendship actually mean. I truly appreciate every single one of you that reads what I write and shows your support. Thank you!
What Is a Community?
To me a community is made up of the people that you’ve gotten to know over time. They are the ones who are willing to be honest with you, deal with your not-so-attractive qualities, and still give you a big smile, a warm handshake, and maybe even a hug when you see them.
A community of people knows that the greater good comes above their own desires. They understand that together they can set the tone and make a difference. They have social responsibility and they perpetuate good values among themselves.
What I have had to learn over the past couple of years is that I am a part of this community and that I can not only contribute, but I can trust that my community will also be there for me. For a shy introverted guy who has a few trust issues, it’s not easy to let go and connect, but I’m so glad that I have decided to do that. Each of my friends have made the process so much easier, and there are a few of you who helped me take that first leap of faith. Thank you. Without you I would never have been able to discover all the good people and great treasures my local community holds.
Do You Have a Community?
You may not have realized that you have a community of people around you. I know that it took me awhile to realize that. At first you might think that you are “going it alone” and that you have to watch out for number one, and trust no one. That seems to be a natural human reaction for so many people when we are faced with difficulty in life. I know it was for me.
The easiest way to find your community is to look around you and start asking for help from the people you see every day, your friends on Facebook, and from your church and community groups. If you haven’t done so before, then you might have to invest some time and connect or reconnect with those around you, but it is worth it!
I believe that you probably do have a community around you. You just have to start opening your mind and your eyes to the possibility. Then you have to ask for help. You have to interact. You have to be willing to contribute to your part of the equation. Your community is made up of a group of individual people, and you are one of those people.
If you want to get the most out of the community around you, then start contributing more. Whatever you sow into your community will come back to you in more ways than you can ever imagine.
In a time where we feel even more disconnected and pressured than we have in past years, it’s good to remember that community does exist and does really matter. So today, when you are faced with the decision of going it alone or reaching out to those around you, choose to sow into your community and connect. I believe you’ll be happy with your choice if you do that.
What do you think a community is made up of? Share your thoughts in the comments below.