The Value of Community: Embracing the Full Spectrum of Friendships

In today’s society, we often prioritize the pursuit of “true friendships” while underestimating the importance of our broader community and its members. However, if we genuinely wish to build a fulfilling social life for ourselves, we must start to appreciate the cumulative impact of all the connections in our lives. I have heard from endless listeners of the Friendship IRL Podcast, that learning to appreciate the simple interactions in their day-to-day life really does add up and make a difference in their connections, but also in their mental health.

The Unrealistic Expectations of Friendship

Endless friendship quotes and mental health articles emphasize the importance of finding real friends/true friends/ lifelong friends, while simultaneously perpetuating the idea that “making new friends as an adult is hard.” These societal messages, along with the unrealistic expectations set by movies, social media, and books, lead us to believe that the only way to find the benefits of friendship is through these all-consuming, “true” friendships, but that just isn’t the case.

The Reality of Friendship

In reality, the value of friendship lies in the diversity of the people we surround ourselves with. Our simpler friendships and acquaintances, often overlooked, play a significant role in our overall happiness and well-being. These connections with people and the small interactions we have in life bolster our overall happiness, health, and provide diverse perspectives and experiences that expand our worldview. By seeing the value that the various relationships in our life bring to our life, rather than seeing what those relationships lack and expecting them to fulfill every need, we can build a strong, supportive community.

The Expansiveness of Community

In my opinion, when I think of community I find it to feel expansive, renewable, and open, while friendship can feel closed, binary, and measured. Friendship doesn’t have to feel that way, but it can when it feels like our only avenue for connection in life. When we limit ourselves to a fixed “circle” of friends, community, people, and life, we risk missing out on the many opportunities for growth and connection that exist beyond our immediate sphere. By keeping our circles open and appreciating the overlapping connections around us, we create a vibrant, diverse community that supports and uplifts us in ways we may not even realize.

The Power of Community in Times of Need

In times of crisis, we often discover just how wide our community spans. From close friends and family to neighbors and acquaintances, our community is there to support us when we need it most. By valuing these connections in our everyday lives, we build a strong foundation of support that we can rely on in difficult times.

Cultivating a Diverse and Supportive Community

To truly thrive, we must value community in all its forms. By investing in weak ties, building authentic relationships, recognizing the many forms of friendship, and fostering community, we can create a strong foundation of support that empowers us to grow and flourish. We must embrace the cumulative greatness of community and celebrate the diverse ways in which it enriches our lives.

Final Thoughts

Its time to reframe our understanding of friendship and community. We need to start appreciating our full Wheel of Connection, and how it impacts our lives. By keeping our circles open to new possibilities, we can build a rich, supportive network that enhances our happiness and well-being. Let us move beyond the narrow definition of “true friendship” and embrace the expansive, renewable, and open nature of community.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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