&How To Find Community In A Continually Fractured World
It’s no secret that our world is in a time of uncertainty.
Technology is advancing faster than we can comprehend, political views are deeply divided, and fear is being thrown around like a toy. During times like this, it is important to find community and connection amidst it all.
As a recent college graduate, this feels incredibly relevant to me. Although I am in a particularly unstable phase in my life, it feels like the United States is going through parallel growing pains at the moment. When I graduated last May I walked off the edge of a cliff, without any idea of what would greet me below. At the end of 2016, our country walked off the edge as well—further into division—without any parachutes and we have been figuring out a way to land ever since.
Odd metaphor aside, it is a tumultuous time in many parts of the world, which has left most of us feeling anxious and isolated. It seems harder than ever to find time and energy to create new relationships, let alone nurture the ones you already have. Nevertheless, community is what will keep us moving forward and give us the support we need. Here are a few tips on finding that community that is so essential to our wellbeing.
Be Specific About What You Need
Focus on one or two interests around which to find community. It’s unrealistic to think that we have the energy to extend ourselves to five different hobbies or causes. Additionally, just because we are not constantly practicing something, doesn’t mean it’s not significant to us.
Growing up, I danced for ten years, five or six days a week. This art form was a huge part of my identity and I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with feeling like I’ve lost part of myself since I stopped. Still, I feel content when I remind myself that I never stopped loving dance, and it continues to be part of my story even if I’m not actively participating in it right now.
The current political turmoil and social unrest can make us believe that we have to do everything, but we can’t be effective if we are spreading ourselves thin. For me, the two things I hold dear are my faith and conscious living. I am a Christian and have a truly amazing community within my church. We have a scheduled time to meet every week and discuss our shared beliefs, though we also are constantly in each others lives.
When you find the right community, it isn’t work to spend time with them. Sustainable fashion has also been such a gift for me to fall into. When I graduated, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or how to meet new people. I knew I was excited about changing the fashion industry. Now that I have weaseled my way into this inspiring community I can’t imagine my life without it!
Be Open & Explore New Communities
Daunting doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels to jump into a new city, community, or industry; nonetheless, it can be so rewarding. Last summer, I continued my research into sustainable fashion by discovering new brands, passionate bloggers, and influential social media accounts within the slow fashion movement. Since this part of the industry is still growing, information isn’t always easy to come by. However, over time, I created a large list of inspiring movers and shakers in the industry. I began taking the advice of my college career counselor and asking those people out to coffee.
As scary as it may seem, most people are excited to get to know someone who is not only an admirer of their work, but committed to the same cause. I’m forever grateful for the women who have and continue to take time out of their busy schedules to tell me their stories. Every tale of struggle and success rekindles the fire within me! Although some of these one-on-one’s won’t directly turn into lasting friendships, a fair amount will lead you to other meaningful connections.
The second part of putting yourself out there requires a little more energy. By following an insane amount of sustainable fashion advocates on social media (and in person), I found out about a lot of related events happening around Los Angeles. Venturing out on your own to a gathering full of unfamiliar faces can be nerve-wracking to say the least, but you know what I’m going to say, don’t you? It pays off! Each event becomes easier to navigate and before you know it, you’re well acquainted with everyone in those rooms. Sometimes we just need a little push in the right direction.
Be Patient With Yourself & Others
Ah, the words that absolutely no one likes to hear. Patience is a virtue…that not many of us have. However, finding the right community requires exactly that. Relationships take time to develop and rushing them will only hurt the process towards deep connection. If I had told myself this advice a year ago I would have thrown some expletives, but I now can’t deny the fact that it’s true. This past year has seen me grow some amazing friendships and professional connections that were only possible because of the space they were given.
Moreover, you have to be patient with yourself. As someone who needs to refuel with alone time, it’s important to remember to let myself off the hook once and a while. It’s vital to take time for yourself along the way.
Los Angeles specifically can feel isolating because of its transient nature and I know a lot of people who have lost hope in the possibility of genuine friendships. I’m here to say that there’s hope! The sustainable fashion community in LA is a wonderful example of passionate individuals coming together to foster relationships and positive change. Everyone I’ve encountered in this “space” has a huge heart and incredible work ethic, which is why I am able to stay optimistic about the future of our city, the planet, and the country. Call me naive, but I’d rather hope for the best.
Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She works as a freelance writer and content creator with a focus in sustainable fashion. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious living and hopes to continue to spread awareness of ethical consumption.