Community as a Form of Resilience

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“Resilience” is a buzzword these days in self-development circles and I felt low on it, so I’ve worked to become more resilient.  Last week, I lived an important aspect of it that I haven’t seen much coverage of in recent press:  family and community support.

Long story short: I thought I had a great job offer, and then the opportunity disintegrated.  I had been really excited about the work and joining two friends already at the company, so had told several friends and family members about it.

When the job negotiations came to naught, I was disappointed and embarrassed. But then my friends and family rallied ‘round and showered me with amazing love and support.  One friend had organized a “Congratulations” party for Saturday night; when I told her she needed to cancel it, she refused: “You are worth celebrating.”  Several friends cheered when they learned that I wouldn’t be moving out of town, and both colleagues and clients at the yoga studio where I work part-time were gleeful when they heard I’d be staying.  The woman who was going to take my morning shifts at the studio immediately gave them back, so that I’d still have income while building my coaching business.  (When I thanked her for her generosity, she almost brushed me off, saying it was clearly the right thing to do.  She is a good person!)  My family all said, “Well, their loss,” expressed relief that I didn’t accept the job after all, and supported me in my newly-discovered desire to work independently.  (A special thanks to my older brother, who I’m living with, for never making me feel like a burden or hassle.)  Another colleague/friend emailed, “I think you know how much I adore my time with you but wanted to make sure . . .  Congratulations on being a wonderful addition to the world, one that we all enjoy.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more seen, appreciated, loved, and supported, or felt my heart more full.  What initially felt like a terrible turn of events led to something beautiful.

Feeling so loved and supported by so many people made it much easier to bounce back.  In the past, I  scraped by largely on my own—without soul-click friends, distant from my family—and it was hard.  It is so much easier to get off the mat when a bunch of people help me stand back up and dust off.

No doubt many practices have helped me become more resilient, including meditation,  regularly seeing things from other people’s perspectives, learning not to take every rejection personally (there really are 500+ factors that have nothing to do with me when I don’t get the job), and finally understanding that “acceptance” doesn’t mean things are right or that I will cease working for change*.  These are all very important skills that helped me last week.  And I know that being encircled by love, support, care, good thoughts, and beautiful emails, texts, and voice-mails made a HUGE difference.

I’ve never had a more reliable, strong, loving community than I have now.  In part, this is because for the first 30+ years of my life, I focused too much on school and work and moved frequently; in part, it’s because it took me a while to grow into myself and find “my people.”  But I’m so grateful I finally stopped saying I wanted great friendships and started investing the time and energy necessary to grow them.  Developing more accurate/helpful perspectives on reality has most certainly increased my resilience—I would never deny that.  But it’s also true that there is no wholly self-made or self-supporting person.  Community increases resilience every bit as much as self-growth.

Without my community, I would not have bounced back so quickly.  I might well have panicked and bashed myself rather than stepping up and realizing that what I really want to do is build my own business—and believe that I can do it.  Before last week, the idea terrified me.  My old story was that I was not good at creating community and that it was very hard for me to find friends.  That may well have been true in the past, but clearly things have shifted.  In the 16 months since I moved to Boston, I’ve begun great friendships and built a supportive community.  If I can do that, why not build a coaching business?

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here.

 

*My current understanding of acceptance is that it means facing reality squarely and deciding what I’m going to do about it instead of raging or wishing things were different—while also acknowledging the limitations of what I can do in this moment.

 

Photo courtesy of Zak Suhar at www.snapwi.re.

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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