Begin Again In 10 – Week 8: Community
Updated: Sep 13
I have told you this before, but some of the most valuable experiences I have gathered happened while I was looking and waiting for something else. It goes like this: I have a goal in mind, maybe not the sharpest and best defined one, but at least I know what I do not want. And then, somewhere between obsessing over how much longer it will take and despairing over how random everything is, things come my way that at first seem like everything but, yet they exactly hit the spot.
I was actually looking for a book club. Or a discussion group. Something that would evolve around the topics I am most interested in. I was not looking for peer support specifically (or at all). I just wanted to listen to smart people, do something that would involve some type of interaction or exchange. See, I am a little late to the social creatures party. I am a loner. Not that long ago, I still used to pride myself on just how well I cope on my own. After all, the lessons I learned at home had everything to do with how little you can trust someone and how much they will screw you over anyway. This was my mantra until my early 30s. That’s when I was born. Everything before that mark feels like the longest DUI ever.
And then Talk About It Mate happened. I remember how impressed I was by how well it was organized. Bored to the absolute limit by the “Tell us about yourself” intro I knew from previous online events, I was pleasantly surprised by the no muss no fuss aura of the meetings. For someone with the lamest small talk skills ever, being amongst people who share diary-like material without even flinching was some true hashtagintrovertgoals (yes, that’s how bad I suck at social media).
Next thing I knew, I had somewhere to be and someone to be there with three times a week. I was actually waiting for the next group. I mean, when was the last time I said “I can’t, I am busy that day” and that involved something else than a book, a walk or a workout. In line with my pattern, the sense of belonging to the TAIM community caught me off guard. It crept up on me, came unannounced, without fireworks, cakes or colorful cone hats.
Perhaps that’s how it’s supposed to be: you do something someone else finds cool, and vice versa, you get on and just houdini yourselves into each other’s lives. I wouldn’t know; if it wasn’t for my closest family, I could do without any messaging apps on my phone.
In any case, I feel accepted and accepting. And, for crying out loud, there is no shame in that. I grew up convinced that having people around is weak. So I never did. Come to realize, there are interesting, intelligent, vulnerable and honest people out there. And in my case, more than seeking them out, the trickiest part is to admit that that is the case indeed. Period. Sure, I could poke holes in just about anyone. What for though? To perpetuate a belief that got me howling for company in the first place?
I am still learning how to develop socially desirable traits. I mean, I have read a ton of books on that and have clocked in countless hours’ worth of podcasts and webinars. All this would be for the birds though if I had no real person in front of me to practice with. See, this is another one of those wishy-washy goals of mine. I knew I needed a way to apply myself. To give back. To get out of the echo chamber of my own mind and sing in a duo with someone. I just did not know how. Now look at that; a community of fantastic people took me in and treated like equal when I needed it the most. There goes one childhood narrative out the window…
The engagement I feel for TAIM is one of a kind. There is a purpose there for me, it makes sense, it does me well. I am scared to admit that. Someone said once that espousing a value means agreeing to witness it fail. And I don’t have an antidote for that. Nor should I have one, really. My task is to appreciate TAIM for everything it is, contribute as much as I can and just enjoy myself. I may have floundered into peer support, but I am making it my business to stay wide awake while I am there.