When I first moved to my new home town over 20 years ago, I knew I was a “come here”. I was certain that the “been heres” wouldn’t necessarily like me so I kept my expectations about making friends to a minimum. My low self-esteem made me suspicious of why people wanted to be my friend.
Eventually I put myself out into the public eye as a shop owner and an artist and I made friends. But there was always reservation. I assumed I still wasn’t what people would need or want me to be. I was still suspicious of their motivation.
My backstory is that I grew up without community. My mother kept us to ourselves. People were there and then they were gone. From this, I understood that you were safer if you didn’t get too close. This understanding stuck for a longtime. People were more dangerous than necessary.
But once I began to see, based on how people reacted to me, that I must have something to offer people, I began to feel a little more comfortable about reaching out and telling my story. Everyone else seemed to have the same fears about being betrayed. My self-esteem was slowly raising.
I began to hold my communities tighter and nurture them. I began to risk reaching out and asking people to join me. I asked favors of people praying that they’d say yes. I grabbed scraps of my apparent likeability and stuffed them in my pockets. I basked in the belonging.
The other day, I experienced a communal euphoria, a communication high that I enjoyed immensely. I had a lovely complimentary conversation back and forth with an online connection and I felt lighter. A few moments that day, I lost track of where I was for moments on end.
I know that connection with community gives me a high. So does making art. So does listening to music. So does eating good food. If my happiness is something we want to achieve daily in the ways I know work, then I must mindfully incorporate these actions into my day. That sounds like a fine New Year’s resolution.