We LOVE the NAS community, but creating a real-life community is essential to our lives! What have been your struggles in making friends as a young adult? Do you have any advice for those struggling to build community post-college?
We all know the importance of having wonderful friends in our lives that we love, and who love us. There is just nothing quite like a good friendship. Telling each other what's on our hearts. Laughing uncontrollably about the silliest things. Suggesting that maybe you should wear the other shirt with those jeans. ;) You get the idea.
When we are in college, we are SURROUNDED by so many people. If we are fortunate to find a niche, to find a group of people with whom you connect and can be yourself around, it makes your college experience that much more... awesome. Friends come naturally and your community is bursting!
And then... you graduate. I can honestly tell you that seven years (SEVEN??? How did that happen already?) post-college, it's still a challenge for me. No one ever tells you (let alone prepares you) that making/keeping friends will be something that you have to deal with.
Now, I know that it's not like that for everyone. But, everyone does have a point where they struggle with having the awesome group of friends like they did back in college. We start new jobs. We move. Friends move. We get married. Kids come along. It's part of life, which makes the whole community thing that much more interesting.
I am not an expert in this area, at all. As I really don't have a community to which I belong right now. That is why I love NAS so much. I feel like where ever I go... whatever I am doing, I have a group of people that are around, praying for me and loving me (that way that you can through the interwebs). I have gotten to know a few of you really well, and I am so blessed to call you my friend. You have helped me feel less lonely in those moments when I have felt very, very alone.
But, I also realize, that this is not a healthy way to have community. We are human. Humans need other personal, face-to-face interaction. It's just how we are made. For me right now... it's pretty limited. A lot of it is my own doing, but it's also because of where I live and the lack of young adult things going on, in general. Thank God for Martha, Tom and the babe... because they are the only people I see somedays, besides my coworkers.
And, it's hard. Yes, I have plugged into volunteering at church. Which is wonderful and great, and makes me feel like I am part of my church, in a way. But, it doesn't satisfy my craving for real, authentic community. It hasn't fostered any real friendships, besides the one with Martha (but that doesn't really count because Mart and I were friends long before that!).
Thank the Lord we are revamping lots of things at my church, one of which is the young adult ministry. It's something that has been on my heart, and I am really looking forward to helping with that more and more, and hopefully meet some new people. This will take me a bit out of my comfort zone, so I am a little nervous, but mostly excited! Please pray for the success of this new ministry, as I know there is a real need and desire amongst the younger people.
The thing is though, am I relying too much on my church? Should I be trying harder to meet other people outside of church-related things? Right now, my parish isn't providing what I need, so where do I find it? For that, I am not too sure. I am still in the exploring/praying/figuring-it-out stage.
See... I don't have it figured out. Building and keeping community will look different for each person. But, it's supposed to! It would be a pretty boring world if we all had to be part of the same community, doing the same things! :)
But, here are a few things that I suggest that have helped me along the way in different areas:
- Live in community. Ok, this doesn't mean signing up for a religious community or anything! But, if you have the chance to live with another person (or more), do it! I lived with 5 other Catholic women right after college, and it was amazing! Now, I am not sure I would do that ever again, but it was what I needed at that time. We lived (tried to live) intentionally as a community. Meaning, we had prayer times together, weekly things we did together as a house, held each other accountable, etc. It was a wonderful transition from college! If nothing else, it was wonderful always having someone else around!
- Get involved. Ok, so this could mean more at church. Teach CCD! Go on a mission trip! Sign up for kick ball! Or maybe your job has fun after work activities? I got really involved with all sorts of things with my job at the hospital. It was awesome!
- Do what you love. Is that running and training for races? Join a running group! Want to do a long-term mission? Pray and sign up for it! Love dogs, but can't get one? Volunteer at your local humane society! Is there something in your life that you love, but haven't really followed that passion? Then try to do it! You will meet new people and build friendships off shared interests and passions. :)
- Pray. Listen, we all have moments where we feel like we have no community and/or friends. Just keep praying and staying close to the Lord, because He will eventually reveal opportunities for you.
- Start something! So, there is no young adult group at your church? Then talk with your pastor about creating one. No local stamp collecting group? Then, start one! If you are passionate about something, I am SURE there will be at least one other person who is also passionate about it, too.
"Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another:
What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
These are just suggestions. Some things I have heeded in my own life, others not so much. I am not perfect. :) But we can all agree that creating and maintaining community takes work. It takes effort. We aren't in college anymore, where the opportunities are practically endless!
And as Rachel Balducci says in Style, Sex, and Substance*, "...at the heart of every good friendship: admitting that this person fills a void in your life, that she is Jesus to you in moments of weakness and of strength. For all of us, being a good friend means being the hands and feet of Jesus not just in the moments when we serve one another without counting the cost, but also in the moments when we laugh until we cry or share what is in the deepest, most tender places of our heart." (emphasis mine) And I think that's what we all long for in our communities, right? Solid, wonderful, fruitful friendships.
What have you found that works for you? What suggestions do you have? Share your ideas and linkup below! :)
Our lives tend to revolve around social media and knowing what's happening in everyone's lives. How has this effected your life? In your experience, has social media made dating easier? Harder? Ex: not judging something you see about the guy you're dating on Twitter/FB
(NAS 1 year anniversary is June 4th!!!)
Year in Review
How has your life changed in the past year? How has this community impacted you?
Have fun with this! Fave post? What would you like to see more of? Anything, really!
*FYI, I am trying the affiliate link thing out... so, if you happen to buy that book by clicking there, I will get a wee bit back. Thanks if you do! :)