Where Do I Get Me a Village?

Strangely enough, I have a blog post in my head, trying to get out.  And it’s not even Monday morning.  Similar thing happened to me yesterday, when I had an unprecedented desire to use the elliptical machine, on a day that I was scheduled only for strength training.  Well, I acted on that odd impulse, and it turned out well, so I’ll try going with this one, too.  Speed blogging rules apply.

“Community” is a word I hear and see frequently in the Internet Age.  As far as I can tell, any group of people with one person or topic interest in common can be considered a “community”.  By this definition, I’m a member of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of communities.  Here’s a few of them, in no particular order:

  • International Coach Federation
  • International Ombuds Association
  • North American Women MBAs
  • 85 Broads
  • Temple Isaiah
  • Wellesley College
  • MIT Sloan
  • OA
  • EnergyRICH
  • Arlington Entrepreneurs
  • Society of Organizational Learning
  • LinkedIn
  • Thompson School
  • CJP Women’s Philanthropy
  • CareerWise MBAs
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • TED
  • Boston Facilitators Roundtable
  • http://www.connected-women.com/en/
  • BlogHer
  • WIBC.org

Yet these days I frequently feel isolated when it comes to the good ol’ Agricultural Age definition… my local peeps.  Neighbors.  People whose homes I can walk to, borrow a cup of sugar, and come back from in the same hour.

I find myself thinking about this often.  Why do I consider myself blessed to have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of friends, yet feel I have very little community?  Why do I pass so many people on the street or in the playground whose faces I recognize and whose names I even know, yet my mind goes blank when I need help?  Not “can we talk via phone or ichat” help, but IRL (in real life), f2f (face-to-face), live-and-in-person, stand-right-next-to me-for-at-least-five-minutes-in-a-row help?  The sad, startling, and scary truth is there is not one human being who lives in my town who I feel comfortable calling.

Perhaps this feeling is exacerbated for me because I’m a single mom.  Or because my office is in my home.  But I am not the shy and retiring type all the time.  (Sometimes, yes.)  I participate in many of the communities of which I’m a member.  I volunteer at my kids’ school (started before I even had kids!).  I’ve been active in my Temple.  I attend events.  I introduce myself to strangers.  I invite people over (they usually come, and we usually have a good time!).  I offer to help others, and I follow through on my offers.  When people ask me, I say “yes” as often as I can.  I’ve taken all sorts of proactive steps during the 12 years I’ve lived here to build community.  Yet I still feel alone.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one.  In the area where I live, usually every adult in a household works (or is looking for work) outside his or her home.  Everyone is stretched financially, and for time.  Even the kindest of people are too maxed out.  Many people in my area have close family nearby, and I admit that I envy them.

I think Hillary Clinton was exactly right when she espoused the theory that it takes a village to raise a child.  Where do I go to get me a village?

6 Comments

  1. Chris

    Debra – you speak the truth for soooo many these days.
    We live in a sea of humanity and yet so often find ourselves
    feeling alone and separate. Thank you for your wisdom and
    willingness to 'put it out there' to remind myself and others
    to reach out for the support in growing our businesses.
    Blessings always!

  2. Jessica Zambarano

    I hear you as well! Just this morning I made a note to myself to find out if there are any local groups of entrepreneurs that meet IN PERSON just because most days I spend so much time alone!

    I really look forward to our days working together :O) !

  3. Debra Woog

    Thanks, Margelit. I'll check out the link. On the one hand, it helps to know this is true in other parts of the world. On the other hand, it sure is depressing!

  4. Margelit

    The same is generally true everywhere nowadays, I think. Especially now that more and more people (including me and my husband) work from home. The one thing that has helped me and my family to have and be a part of a community is to spend one day a week not touching the computer or telephone, and having other friends and family join us for relaxed, drawn-out meals. Here's a site I found that promotes just that–disconnecting from the online world once in a while and connecting with those in the actual vicinity. http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/
    Though the internet has created all kinds of communities, nothing can beat it in-person.
    I also think it's especially hard, when you're an innovator and a reacher-outer, to feel like you're getting back what you give, since many people aren't like that.

  5. Spacemom

    That's a good question. I have a similar problem in my community. My husband and I both work out of the home. The kids have school, but where can I build my community?
    I wish I had the right answers… I still don't know

  6. Debra Woog

    I'm sorry to hear you have this experience too. I happen to know where you live, and I picture that town as being so friendly and filled with close-knit neighborhoods. Maybe the problem is that my expectations are out of whack with the era.