Authentic Community: Finding Your Net | Darling Magazine

Last July, I found myself in a dark room surrounded by five of my closest friends. It was the night before my best friend Lydia’s wedding, and a bunch of us had gathered at her house for one last single lady sleep over. We talked, ate snacks and finished up the last of the place cards, and around 12:30 in the morning decided that we should probably get some rest for the big day. We turned out the lights and got into the beds, mattresses and sleeping bags which were spread all over the floor so we could all sleep in the same room. And just as we had all settled in, Lydia asked if we could pray for her and her upcoming wedding…

I’ve always been a social person. My soul craves to be with others. I used to think that this was a weakness, as if it was wrong to need others love and support in my life. For years, I flew solo and rarely opened up to people. My intuition to help and be around others made me “the fixer” of my friends, but when I needed support, I was always on my own. You can imagine what years of loneliness and doubt did to my spirit. I slowly crumbled. I needed a net—an authentic community that would be with me in my joys and catch me when I fall.

That summer night, we all circled around Lydia and took turns lifting up our prayers and blessings for our dear friend and her new husband. As the girls poured their support over Lydia, I began to cry. Love was present and tangible—in our prayers, in our tears of joy. This was my net.

As I spoke to the others in the days that followed, I realized that I wasn’t alone in my thankfulness. We all agreed that we had found something rare and special in one another, something we had been craving for most of our lives. Since then, it has become apparent to me that this is a need that most women have. We desire an authentic and loving community of friends that we can trust completely, and share our happiness and fears with. The trouble is that it can be so hard to find, and most of us continuously reside in a pit of loneliness and self-doubt.

Needing and desiring authentic community is not a weakness. It is a gift, a sign of strength. Though it can be hard to find, it is not impossible to discover. Here are a few key lessons I’ve learned that helped me find my net…

Be Vulnerable
Being vulnerable with others is so tricky, but it is absolutely key. Invite people into your life. Tell your friends, old or new, about your goals, dreams, fears, and emotions. It not only reveals trust, which is the foundation of any good friendship, but it will help strengthen your confidence. Some people have boundaries, and won’t respond to your openness. It’s important that you remember that this is okay, and not a bad reflection on you or them. Those that do respond to your vulnerability, though, will grow closer to you and will join your net. And like Lydia, ask for what you need from your friends. Lydia honestly shared what she needed from us that evening, and us meeting her where she was at and helping her not only filled up her heart but all of ours, as well. By being vulnerable, you may change someone else’s life for the better.

Try New Things
If you are finding that you are in a rut and not meeting new people (or are bored with your old friends), go out and try something new. Challenge yourself and be adventurous! You’ll not only learn more about yourself, but you might just meet others who are interested in the same things.

Smile
Life is hard, but being positive and smiling more will draw others closer to you. This doesn’t mean you can’t share your sadness or fears with others! No, you should be vulnerable and open up with your community. But it can be very difficult to manage a friend who is always sad and negative. Be compassionate with yourself, and let yourself smile! Your happiness will attract others to you.

Image via Forty-Sixth At Grace

5 comments

  1. This article really hit home for me. When I was reading about how you were “the fixer” but never got much in return, I felt like I could’ve written that myself. I’ve always craved having others around me and have also looked at it as a weakness at times. I moved away from my hometown about a half year ago and have been “flying solo.” Meeting people has become a top thing on my 2013 bucket list. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. This article really resonates with me given that all my best friends live far away. thank you for the continued daily inspiration and encouragement.

  3. This article really touched a chord within me. I’m sending it to my high school girlfriends, because we all feel so blessed to still have each other after all these years. Thanks for sharing!

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