Last week I had and took the opportunity to meet up with someone I only kind of knew from twitter. I had a great time and now we're friends who have met in real life. I'm thinking about this because I also heard at that time, concerns expressed by a Young Person: Young People are concerned that colleges or areas where they may live have not have the interest groups that they desire to be affiliated with. So I got to thinking about how we create our communities and the hard truth that no matter what, you're all alone when it comes to creating your community.
You don't have to always be alone, your community is out there, but you're alone when you start to build it. No matter how you move to an area where there are people like you, it's not like you automatically have known them for ten years. Every relationship takes work. Every community is a negotiation. So we have the same interests and desires? We still have to work out the details. As an academic librarian, I've been through this a few times, and succeeded to varying degrees. As an introvert and a thinker, I have considered the process at length (there may or may not have been crying). So, some tips for you personally, and us here at the Unified Library Scene.
Let Go Of Your Ideal
You know you have it: a picture of the kind of life you could have if you just had x, y, and z. Community has things, but they're not quite like the things you'd like. Thing is, you're here now, and if you wait for something perfect you end up with nothing. So let go of what you're looking for exactly and you're left with an open hand to what will work for you right here. So don't even look for something that's absolutely perfect. Look for somewhere you can belong that is something you can work with.
Be Willing To Do Work
So you want a community that does a certain thing. Say, a certain type of religious observance. And you're lucky enough to be in a community with a religious group that you think will work for you, and you're like "oh if only they'd do this thing, that'd be great!" You know what? You're the community, it's on you. It may just be you, or when you start others will follow, but nothing happens from dreams alone. So get up.
Manage Your Introversion/Extroversion
It works both ways. If you're introverted you need to both push yourself to go and find people and places that will be your community. You also need to take care of yourself and not get overwhelmed or stressed. (This happens to me, where I find a great place but then get too involved too quickly and end up shutting the whole thing down.) If you're extroverted, same story. You need to take time to think over what you're up to and assess if these places are really the right ones for you. Don't get too caught up in all the excitement.
Be Ready For The Best To Come From Unexpected Places
You never know. What passing introduction is going to lead to a life-long friendship. Same with professional connections, same with everything. Be open.
Value All Communities
It's really important to have communities that work for you. We've talked about how finding colleagues online can help when you're isolated in the type of work you do or your approach to your work. Meeting up with folks at conferences and working with them is invaluable. Old friends who know you well are important. It's essential to make a friend that you can call in the middle of the night who lives where you live. All of these communities can be essential. You don't need to build them all at the same time, but remember that each has it's own role in your life.
It's kind of a bummer that there isn't already a perfect place that's waiting for you, but it's reassuring to know that everyone is out there looking for community, too. So let's build it.