I’ve been thinking about community lately. Recently my husband and I made a move that allowed us to be closer to friends and family members. This move has been great for our social life and for learning how to balance work, play, and continuing to build on our marriage. Life is full of challenges and I’m excited to see how this particular challenge continues to push me to grow. It’s been an adjustment and difficult at times, especially when family moved closer to where we used to live right after we moved away, but I think in the end it is something that my soul will profit from.
Along with this move, however, we had to give up a space that we cultivated as our own for two years. We lived in a beautiful rental home during that time that we called home. We got engaged in that house. We first brought our puppy, Regina George, home to that house. I re-learned about my love for yoga on a sunny day in our master bedroom in that house. We had a lot of great talks with friends and family in that living room. We planned our wedding and had discussions of how we pictured our life and our future in that home. We expanded and we grew in that house.
But also, I worked at a small nonprofit agency in a rural town while living in that house for two years. I built a network of professionals that worked together to help out the community. I knew all the school counselors, most of the private practice owners, and almost all of the other nonprofit agency therapists in the area. We met monthly for a meeting to discuss upcoming events, learn together, and brainstorm ways to continue bringing in help for the community. I was well known and respected in that town, and I worked hard to ensure that people in that area had a voice and a person they could count on when they needed it. I liked working there, but I hated not having the outside resources to help my clients in a crisis, or to refer them to a pediatric psychiatrist that wasn’t 45 minutes away. I thought I would want to work in a bigger place, a city that had multiple agencies to provide mental health help to those in need. Yet, when it was time to close the door to my office in that town the last time, I found myself sad. I was moving on to bigger and better things, but closing that chapter proved to be a hard one. I felt like I was abandoning my child. I worked so hard to build myself a professional community there, and now I was just going to leave it all behind? Why would I do such a thing? But here I was, packing my office and hitting the road.
I was excited to move and to start my new job. I was excited to finally be in the area that my husband and I wanted to settle down permanently. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of professional connections I would make and to find out what doors would open for me. We’ve been here for about 5 months now, and I’m feeling impatient. When am I going to make those connections that are going to lead me down the right professional path? Am I already making them?
I found myself thinking: “Why aren’t things happening faster?”
And I had to remember that these things don’t happen overnight. It took me two years to build the reputation that I had in that tiny town I used to work in every day. I didn’t just show up and have an overflow of referrals coming in. I didn’t just start working and have the community respect me immediately. I had to go out and network. I had to force myself to make these connections.
I guess what I’m struggling with now is this:
How do I build that community in such a big place?
I’m feeling a little lost in a city that already has a well established chain of mental health help. Do I have something special to offer this place, or am I just a worker helping with the ideas that are already set in place? I know I’m making a difference simply by being a mental health counselor, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. But I want to do more. I’m just not 100% sure where to start.
I think what I want to say is this:
This journey, my life, is a road of ups and downs and learning. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on who I am as a person. I’ve changed a lot over the years of my life, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not the same person I was when I was 10, or 18, or 24. I am me now and this person won’t even be the same tomorrow. Isn’t that a comforting thought?
We are ever changing, ever evolving. And with that, our community is growing.
Happy OM’ing and Namaste. ❤