Why Community, and not just Friendship?

Why community, and not just friendship? Let's talk about how we value friendships.

Does our society value friendships?

Does our society value friendships?
I’d argue we don’t.
Why? We are straight to value our true friends, real friends, lifelong friends.

But here is the thing — if we genuinely-placed value on friendships, we’d value the entire spectrum of friendships, not just the friendships that reach the ultimate iteration of friendship.

Endless friendship quotes and mental health articles talk about the importance of finding our lifelong friends. Still, as we become older adults, the messaging says things like “meeting new friends is hard” or “no friend can bring us true happiness,” or “your social network isn’t dependable.”

If we learned to appreciate the full spectrum of social connection in our lives – friends, acquaintances, community – we’d unlock an important lesson.

Our simpler friendships — they don’t just keep us out of social isolation. No, they are much more important than that. Cumulatively, those simple friendships that fill one role or another — are the key to our overall happiness.

And yet we pine for true friendships – whatever that means.

Most of us aren’t even sure what a “true friendship” is. We are looking to movies, social media, and the text in books — which loves to glorify those big, all-consuming friendships without highlighting the impact.

We have been taught that the only way to find the benefits of friendship is to have these big friendships.
The value of good friends comes from the diversity in the people we surround ourselves with.

Act in ways that celebrate the cumulative greatness of friendship in your life.

Treat each relationship as a valuable friendship; it is not because it brings every single thing, but for the things it brings.
When in fact, we can gain more by diversifying our friendships and tapping into the best of others, just like we can give the best of ourselves and not be required to show up in ways that we aren’t strong.

Believe in friendship — all it’s iterations.

A recent essay about friendship::

Community feels Expansive. Renewable. Open.

Friendship feels Closed. Binary. Measured.

When we describe friendship, we use phrases like “my circle.”

How do we decide to let someone into the circle?
What are the requirements?
Are they the same for everyone?

What is the benchmark where someone crosses over from “they aren’t my friend” to “they are my friend?

And when you are together –
Do you appreciate what they bring to the relationships?
Or do you spend your time measuring how far they are from crossing into “they are my friend” territory?

How do you decide how many seats will fill your circle?

And once you decide –
Are you spending your time appreciating the friends you have or focused on the empty seats?

If we find “enough friends” (whatever that means), it would seem that all the seats in the circle are filled.

We might feel as if we have collected everyone we need.

What happens when individuals grow and change?

Growth + change requires a friendship to
grow – change – morph – die – restart – pause – struggle.

But we’ve put people in their seats.
Do we play musical chairs and have them shuffle?
What if there’s not a seat for someone anymore?
Do we squish them into a seat that doesn’t feel right?
Do we kick them out of the circle entirely?

We’ve all felt outside the circle.
It doesn’t feel good.

Have you looked outside “your circle” recently?

Are there people out there that might be worth noticing?

Perhaps people could enter your life with ease and add value (and vice versa) instead of trying to squish a current friend into a seat.

You might notice interesting, positive people.
The ease with which someone aligns with present you.
The possibility and excitement of meeting new people.
Opportunities to try new things.

I envision community as overlapping circles.

We might have our circle, but leave your circle cracked open.
Appreciate the overlapping circles around you.

I genuinely believe we all have more people in our lives than we realize.

We have close friends – family -co-workers – friends of friends.
But we also have neighbors – friends from the past – friends of friends of friends – people who share our interests – and so much more.

It often takes an emergency to realize how wide our community spans.

Unbeknownst to us, circles are overlapping and silently serving areas of our lives.
We are having conversations because someone two circles away started the discussion.
There are acts of service happening because someone else received that care.

Community feels like Variety. Diversity. Options. Amplification.

Community + Friendship –
One without the other does a disservice to us all.


THIS IS A PLACE OF CONVERSATION, EXPLORATION, AND DISCUSSION.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand the value of friendships in my life.  I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the form below.
Questions, comments, and critiques are all welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm a speaker, thought leader, and soon-to-be author focusing on community and friendship.

TL;DR The friendship paradigm is broken. I'm breaking it down, so we can build a better version.

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