This is a story about being addicted to your friends.
I am a recovering community addict.
(I’ll explain more about my addiction in a moment.)
(Community = the people in your life. From your lover to your friends, work colleagues, neighbors, the chick who does your pedicures…)
For years, I’ve been obsessed with talking about where to find the right people for your community, then how to build that community, how to sustain it, and what to do when a certain person (or maybe, even an entire section of your community) just isn’t in alignment anymore.
In fact, I’m creating a spiritual conference so that spiritual oddballs have a place to gather together and form… you guessed it, community.
And when I say I’m obsessed with community, the word ‘obsessed’ is not a load of melodrama.
I’ve been obsessed with being connected. Obsessed with having the kind of friendships (+ one very special romantic relationship) that Hallmark card writers dream of. I’ve been fanatical about creating my own crew. Tribe, baby!
But after a while of what I thought was a healthy and purposeful obsession, I started to notice that this community thing was morphing into… neediness.
Underneath the cheery visions of hand-holding and shared experiences, was my belief that without a community… I sucked.
Subconsciously, I bought into the idea that without a large crew of soul sisters (and one soulful man) at my side, I was uncool, unworthy; that I was lacking.
So I did what all good spiritually-conscientious girls do when they notice some unhealthy, dysfunctional stuff floating around in their minds…
I called my favorite energy worker.
And then I talked about it with a few gifted coaches + 1 extra-awesome tarot card reader.
I did the work. I de-tangled my community-obsessed curls.
I let go of the crazed need for a “crew” and focused instead on treasuring the handful of special friendships I’ve already been blessed with.
I decided to move to Vancouver.
All my friends (most of whom live in cities on the west coast) collectively rejoiced.
Check out Kits. East Van is where it’s at. You need to see Mount Pleasant. You’ll be soooo close to me now! Eeee!
And without missing a beat, without a moment’s reflection on my status as a recovering community addict, I did exactly as they said.
I started looking for apartments in the core of the city, on the hunt for high ceilings and crown moulding.
But every time I looked at an ad for a place in Vancouver proper, I did this: * gulp *.
And when I ‘accidentally’ clicked over to the rental listings for the Sunshine Coast (imagine a two-storey house nestled into a mini-forest, on the bluff of an island, overlooking the Pacific Ocean) I started to cry.
It was the cry of longing. The cry that points you to your deepest truths.
And then I understood: I was doing it again.
I was so oriented to being connected to other people, being constantly available and accessible to them that I hadn’t stopped to ask the biggest question of all…
What do I want?
My answer caused the Craigslist search terms to change rather significantly.
A few weeks later, I found my place.
It’s 40 minutes outside of the city – literally, in the middle of a rainforest. From every window, all I see is trees, trees, trees. *swoon*
I have been warned that I will see bears in the spring and summertime. This thrills me like I don’t even know how to say.
I got a sexy set of wheels so I can drive into the city whenever I want to see my friends and I feel more joyful and grounded than I have in my entire life.
When I dropped my obsessive need to always be where my people are, to be so readily available to them, life got… better.
So the moral of the story is (I’m about to cheat FYI, because there are actually 2 morals):
- Some of us have been placing so much emphasis on building a community and finding a tribe that we’ve stopped being mindful of our individual needs and priorities. Being with the crowd is part of what makes us whole, but it’s not everything [tweet this!].
- Your “stuff” will keep circling back until you’ve worked it allll the way out. I thought I’d ‘dealt’ with the people-pleasing, community-obsession bits. Turns out, not entirely.
It’s like a sponge – you think you’ve wrung all the water out of it, but no, there’s still some liquid in there. So you gotta keep revisiting the issue, re-working it again and again, until the bits that need to fall away actually fall away.
Deep, meaningful connection comes in many shapes and sizes.
And if your version includes wild bears and a rainforest, don’t let anybody convince you otherwise.
Photo by Thomas Lefebvre