Community is such an important thing. You don’t notice how much you need it until you realize you don’t have one.
Growing up in a big Catholic family there was that built-in community at church but at a young age I realized I didn’t believe and felt like I was always standing just outside of that. I didn’t belong at church or the youth group. I was still the outsider. I floated in and out of other communities, religious and philosophical.
I know it’s probably normal to look back on the “old days” or historical time periods and think “things were better back then” but sometimes I really do believe it was. Before the day of the internet and easy access to everything, people were more in touch. Towns were smaller, everyone knew each other and (hopefully) helped each other. Growing up in a bigger city (Seattle) I never really felt like there was a close-knit community.
When I started running I found a community that I FINALLY belonged in. I was so happy! I was never into sports as a kid and discovering fitness later in life, I finally saw the benefits of activities like that. There really isn’t anything quite like being part of a team. Running is a pretty solo activity but you better believe you’re still part of a team if you’re a runner. You have other runner friends. You guys talk and rehash race weekends; you share in the anticipation and the woes of training; you have a common bond that brings you close to sometimes perfect strangers–the #runchat Twitter chat is a perfect example! This can lead to big and awesome things.
So when that community is gone, what happens? With various running injuries over the years, I’ve taken numerous breaks from running. I always had cycling to fall back on. Even if I wasn’t part of the running community, I still was part of some kind of cycling community. I could discuss centuries with other riders, what their favorite bike was, what GUs they preferred…the list is endless.
Then that was gone, too. Gone were the summers where I was super focused on getting my mileage up so that I would be able to participate in an epic ride.
I wanted this post to be an open dialogue about community; how to find your community, how having a community changes us, how to cope when you don’t have one…so what say all of you?