As last year came to a close, and this year began, I thought a lot about community. Especially for us single people out there, community is a bit more of an elusive idea. Normally and historically, a person’s community is so deeply rooted in their family. I have a wonderfully close (albeit sometimes invasively close) family and consider myself lucky to depend on them if the need arises, but the day to day community takes a little more fine tuning.
I am not alone in saying it can be hard to find friends, and this community support as we get older.
The school environment where we are essentially forced to tolerate each other 12 hours a day disappears, our work friends become acquaintances but we keep a professional distance, and we end up leaning heavily on friends from the past, that we may have outgrown. For me personally, this year became a lot about evaluating the relationships in my life to see which ones are serving me and helping me to become a better and more fulfilled person. I can definitively say it ended up leading to a lot of lonely nights, declining invites from people whose energy often left me feeling drained or negative.
What I found, however, was as I reduced the amount of negative energy and people in my life, the opportunities to meet more like minded people arose. Some were friends from the past that I reconnected with, some were friends of friends, even the social media community had a rose colored glow to it.
One really specific example of creating positive space in my life is at the gym. As anyone who has spoken to me for 5 minutes can say I am not a fan of working out. I hate it, in fact.
I always put in the minimal effort and expected the maximum results. I would walk in, total resting B face, do my work out super annoyed, and leave even more irritated. I even wrote about putting in the minimal work and branded it “self care” in a previous post ( Be……Happy? What my gym experience taught me about self-care and self-love.). Then I started going to a class I really loved,with an instructor who called me out and then also hugged me after class (mixed messages but I love her so I’ll give it a pass). She makes everyone feel like they can become better versions of themselves. It was crazy fam, I started smiling in class (what???), even talking to people! strangers!, and looking forward to going; I even went out (in a non gym, social setting) with Carmilla and some of these new gym friends once (you guys it was like sitting at the cool kids table, not gonna lie).
So this got me thinking a lot about medicine. Because, well, medicine is my first love, my biggest sense of community, and frankly, the backbone of this blog and Dr Every Woman wants me to tie it in so you know, here we are. I thought about how common it is for patients to be reassured by the words “I know this is scary, but you are not alone, this happens really often, and we will get to the other side of this.” Creating this sense of community for a person when they are vulnerable is one of the core ways physicians and other members of the healthcare team can create a safe space in an otherwise very scary moment.
I hope everyone gets a chance to find their true community. Whether that is with a spouse or some great girlfriends, changing your job to feel inspired at work or even with a pet, or even for a 15 minute visit to the doctor. It’s great to feel loved, supported and positive. Stay healthy friends.