It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. I have always been intrigued by the cultures where entire families live together in a home where the grandparents raise the grandchildren as the children's parents go to work to provide for their family. These close-knit families that share the responsibilities, share resources and glean off of each other's skills and knowledge are something I feel is lacking in our society. These communities offer the support needed for everyone to THRIVE.
In contrast, if we look at how we live in North America, the differences are vastly different. Aside from a few exceptions as a population in general we live independent lives, often leaving our families at young ages, and starting out on our own. In some cases even live great distances from those we call family. Time seems to fly by, and we can sometimes go weeks, months and in some cases years without seeing or communicating with family. We have small networks of those we consider community, but I would ask you how close are you truly with these people. Do you confide your deepest struggles with them, or can you rely on them to support you in your great times of need? We live in a world of social media posts where you portray the good things of your life while hiding the rest. We live fake lives from the viewpoint of others while inside, we are dying.
I know this phenomenon all too well. I lived this for most of my life. Living a life of silence, loneliness and independence. Believing I needed to do it all on my own, I could not rely on others or let them close. Never really letting others into the inner chaos of my life. Never reaching out to others and depending on my own ability to provide for myself and my family. It has really only been in the past eight years that I have started to change this paradigm in my life. The impacts of this isolation hit home when I hit rock bottom in burnout and mental breakdown at the age of 31. We were never created to live in isolation. We were designed and hardwired for community. It is in community where we will experience the most growth, healing and opportunities to thrive. We will be encouraged, supported and challenged to grow in the areas we are weak.
Community, what is it really, and why do we seem to avoid it? Why do we avoid the one thing we essentially need to thrive in this life?
Clearly defined, it is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Or a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Connection is one of our most critical human needs without it, we literally will die inside. Studies have shown that an infant at birth, if touched, cuddled, held, spoken to and cared for, will thrive. They will show attachment and connection to those around them. However, babies that are neglected, never spoken to or held and cuddled will stop growing and in some cases, physically die. Physical touch and connection is an essential need for all people, especially a newborn infant.
These needs do not go away as we age. We all need connections, community, to be accepted, loved and cherished. We need to be surrounded by those who have our proverbial backs and would drop everything to help in a time of need, those who know us and have the courage to correct us or challenge us when we are stuck.
The isolation that occurred as a result of the pandemic that happened worldwide caused this issue to be magnified. Those already feeling isolated and alone found out firsthand the consequences of not being in community with others. The most alarming statistic coming out of all of this is the exponential increase in death by suicide in every age group. The hopelessness that accompanies loss of connection and community is devastating and impacts everyone.
Are you struggling?
Are you feeling isolated and alone?
Is your mental health suffering?
Do you have those in your life that you can be honest with and share your burdens with?
Are you connected to others that share the same ideals, goals or interests?
Don't spend another day in isolation. Reach out to those around you, and seek out community. Find those who share the same vision, ideals, attitudes or struggles that you are facing. Journey together, share your burdens and support one another.
And for those of you on the other side, look for opportunities to be that community for others. Open up your home, invite others in, share your lives with them and get to know them on a deeper level. You never know how much what you have journeyed through will help out another person in their current situation. Let's create the community that is lacking and bridge the gap between hope and hopelessness. A person's life can be changed by such a small act of sincere kindness, thoughtfulness and care.
If you are feeling isolated and you are not sure where to turn, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at No One Stands Alone Foundation. It is our mission to spread the message that no one should journey alone. We would love to help you heal and grow from where you are so that you can live the life you were meant to live. You do not have to be stuck where you are forever, you can rise from your despair, and there is hope for your future.