Hey lil bro, don’t you want to bang with us?
These words were uttered to me outside of my Junior High School back in ’95. These words made me realize why being part of a community was so important. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology in this question, it refers to hanging out with individuals that often performed illegal activities. Armed with this knowledge later in life, I identified that this community was not the one I wanted to be a part of. I barely even knew what a community was.
Like most 11-year-old kids growing up in Queens, N.Y. in the ’90s, I just wanted to fit in. My immediate response to this question was, an enthusiastic “Yes”. Apparently, Elmo didn’t want me to be a part of his crew. I’m sure this was due to the fact I was wearing corduroys, a tucked-in flannel shirt, extra-large reading glasses, and an oversized backpack on the first day of the 6th grade. Honestly, I thought I looked ravishing, at the time. I can laugh at it now, but why do I remember a kid that went by the name Elmo over 25 years ago?
Although his street name coincided with that of a Sesame Street character, Elmo was in the 8th grade and he wore designer clothes with matching Elmo gloves every day. He also appeared to have new sneakers, money, and he had an entourage of girls and guys following him around constantly. His popularity appeared to have afforded him the opportunity to build a community around him and his illegal activities. My thought at the time was, “what do I have to do to be like that?” Lack of positive role models in your community can cause kids to look up to individuals that they probably shouldn’t.
Lets get to it
Firstly, let’s take a look at what a community is and why being part of a community is important. We will also discuss what we can do if we begin to feel isolated. Before we kick this off, just know that you are not alone! You don’t have to turn to negativity just because you are feeling down or isolated. Just by reading this, you are a part of this community and if you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to me. Also, I will provide some resources at the end of this blog post. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
What is a Community?
To me, a community is a group of individuals that share common bonds, goals, or a physical space together. For a more formalized definition, feel free to check out this definition of Community on dictonary.com.
What are the different types of communities?
Communities can be classified into the following commonalities.
- Interest. Communities of people who share the same interest or passion.
- Action. Communities of people trying to bring about change.
- Place. Communities of people brought together by geographic boundaries.
- Practice. Communities of people in the same profession or undertake the same activities.
- Circumstance. Communities of people brought together by external events/situations.
Why is being part of a community important?
With everything going on in the world today, it is easy to have feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Being a part of a community can help give you a place to turn when you need help. My neighbors helped out when we had our last son. Although we weren’t part of this community for long, the neighbors gladly woke up at 2 am to watch our kids when my wife Tierra and I had to rush to the hospital. I’ve often seen churches assist their congregations with training and financial forms of relief during hard times.
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the communities and sub-communities that I joined throughout my life. Most of Elementary – Jr. HighSchool, I found myself surrounded by communities of really smart people. This association with people focused on doing well in school, helped me excel rapidly. It wasn’t until Highschool that I found myself going astray. We moved to a new neighborhood, the school consisted of new people, and I found myself trying to fit in more. Being a nerd wasn’t as popular as it nowadays.
After HighSchool, I joined the military. This community of trained killers has helped me develop immensely over the past 17.5 years in some areas. In other areas, I feel a void. I find myself questioning who I am and my purpose. When I feel certain emotions, I question whether I should feel that way or not. I often battle with the thoughts in my head. More times than none I’m constantly telling myself to suck it up. Sucking it up may work on the battlefield and growing up in NYC but emotional isolation is not healthy.
What can we do if we begin to feel isolated?
Talk to someone! You are not alone. Reach out to a friend or family member. Think about what communities you have at your disposal. Do you frequently attend a church? Do you have a gym that you attend frequently? Are you in the military? What communities are you a part of? If the answer is none, seek some out, and get active.
I personally decided to create and join new communities around the things that I really enjoy. Some of those things consist of writing, physical fitness, and creating videos for my YouTube channel. You can also join a church, or a veterans organization if you would like. I plan on joining more in the future.
Feel free to check out the list of resources below and make use of the ones that may assist you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information
A List Of 100+ Pinterest Communities – https://www.blogtoolscorner.com/pinterest-communities-list/
My Blog – https://jamesmuldrow.com/blog
Millington R, Different Types Of Communities, 2010, https://www.feverbee.com/different-types-of-communities/