Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Written by Joelle Chia
What defines community? And how can you find one that's right for you? Read through this article to discover five helpful tips for building connections that last.
“What is important is family, friends, giving back to your community, and finding meaning in life.”
These words said by Adrian Grenier may seem simple, but they shed light on the importance of kinship. In this context, a community is a group of like-minded individuals who share similar ideas, beliefs, experiences, and who seek to feel less alone in their individual quest. Everybody’s existing communities differ, and each person is at a different stage in their life. It can be difficult to find an understanding and accepting group of people. Some may even feel that they don’t belong or fit in with their current groups, and if that’s you- not to worry! Your community could help you navigate life through thick and thin. Here are five tips to find the right community and nurture these healthy relationships.
1. Assess your personal needs and wants
The first step is to consider where you are in your life. Perhaps you are a freshman at a new high school, or maybe you just moved into an unfamiliar neighborhood. Regardless of how far along you are in your journey, ask yourself: “What exactly am I looking for, and what challenges do I currently face?” You may come to the conclusion that after moving to a new highschool, loneliness arises from being thrust into a new environment where you do not have the support system you once had. This question and answer process will operate your drive to search for community. When you state your needs, those needs are more likely to be met.
2. Stay true to who you are
The phrase “just be yourself” may sound cliché and overused, but holds true when you are looking to find a like-minded community. People tend to be drawn to those who share similar personalities, experiences and beliefs as them. This means not being hesitant to share your interests and passions, and being confident in your own skin. When people show more of themselves and have an authentic outward profile, others will naturally gravitate towards them. Put this into practice the next time you are in any public setting or group event. Chances are that you will discover you have more in common with others than you thought, and remember: the first step to finding people like yourself is to show up as yourself.
3. Get familiar with your local environment
Many communities are created by proximity and a common location. This can be explained by a phenomenon called the Mere Exposure Effect. This effect states that people are prone to develop mutual liking for each other from familiar things. It means that the more exposed to the same group of people you are, the more familiar you will become to each other, and the more likely friendship will arise. For example, if you recently moved to a brand new city and are looking to meet new people, a great option would be to join regular local events you are interested in, or organizations surrounding topics you are passionate about. This could include joining online organizations such as Youth Insights, and working with various teams. When you become familiar with people you see regularly, bonds can form. The internet is a great place to start the search for a nearby location to discover others like you.
4. Search for opportunities
Many people are introduced to loved ones and their present community through connections. Even if you are an introvert (like I am), it is always possible to build amazing relationships with people you think are similar to you. Test the waters to try different opportunities, including online and local groups. You can even ask for recommendations from acquaintances, and meet individuals through existing relationships. The further you expand your network, the more likely you will be able to find the right people to be a part of your community. Being resourceful and curious to meet new people is the best source of finding a fit.
5. Actively listen
Though it is important to seek out opportunities for yourself, sometimes it is easy to be caught up in your own needs. To build effective connections, you should have a genuine interest in others and their ways of life. Community is a constant cycle of giving and receiving. If energy is not put into knowing others on an interpersonal level, it can be difficult for substantial connection to shape. Oftentimes, what many need is someone who can listen to them. When you are able to listen well and show others your appreciation and thoughts, a deeper connection is born, which can revitalize relationships and spark stronger ones as well.