community. there’s room for us all.

by Jen Zahigian - via papernstitch - click image for more details
by Jen Zahigian - via papernstitch - click image for more details

Community. There are few things better than the feeling of belonging. Of being surrounded by support & trust & love.

I’ve built communities (and here and here). I’ve weaseled my way into communities large & small. I’ve felt on-the-outside-looking-in. And I’ve looked out from the inside with a smug, knowing smile.

Becoming a part of a community can feel as natural as falling in love.

Becoming a part of a community can also be a long, winding road on a cold, windy day. The walk is pleasant enough – if it wasn’t for the fact that your ears are numb and your breath is short.

At the end of the road, there is a door – although the hinges might stick a bit. A welcome sign. A warm fire.

While the “creative community” online may be vast, it is also difficult to truly feel included, to feel home. There are many sisters & brothers and getting mom or dad’s attention can be frustrating at best.

But you can feel at home here.

There is food & shelter for us all.

This creative community has responsibilities. And so do its members.

The community has a reponsbility to be open, supportive, responsive.

It has a responsibility to be trustworthy, edifying, expansive.

It has a responsibility to grow within reason, flourish without measure.

Community members have a responsibility to bring something new to the table. To start conversations and not end them. To seek help when they need it and offer help when they have it.

Want to be a part of the creative community online? Don’t wait for an invitation – although there are plenty. Concentrate on how you can improve your own little corner of the creative world. Focus on the love you can share with those around you.

Find one friend and then make many.

Keep talking even if no one is listening.

Be who you are and don’t try to be anyone else.

This isn’t a place for strategy or techniques or tricks or business models. It’s a place to break bread. There is room at the table for you.

Pull up a chair.

Written for #reverb10.

Also find a podcast interview with me on BlogcastFM, a handmade gift guide for entrepreneurs on Kind Over Matter, and a look around the town I call home on Covet Chicago.

29 thoughts on “community. there’s room for us all.

  1. Thanks for this post because people like me who are relative newbies to blogging can sometimes feel a little like an intruder, although some people have been fantastic. I enjoy my blog which is essentially a bit of a diary for me and I haven’t blogged much lately but this has inspired me. Yours gratefully, Jane.

  2. Ohh. I get jealous so often I can’t even tell you. It’s the reason I haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” yet. I am VERY busy thinking “She wrote by book! She stole my life!”

    My yoga practice (it IS practice) is all about removing this impulse from my life and seeing the value in me. It AIN’T EASY! But it is worth it.

  3. I often think I shouldn’t intrude into other people’s conversations… but I am trying to put myself out there more and be part of things. Loving this encouragement to do this thing that is hard.

    Thank You!

    <3

  4. What helpful suggestions. Love that you don’t shy away from talking about how hard it can be (or feel, anyway) AS WELL AS offer suggestions on becoming part of community.

    Incredible sentence here: “Becoming a part of a community can also be a long, winding road on a cold, windy day. The walk is pleasant enough – if it wasn’t for the fact that your ears are numb and your breath is short.”

  5. so true! it’s hard to comment and join in because it can really feel like intruding, but what’s the worst that can happen? being ignored? and the best? finding space to call home. thank you! i can’t begin to express how much your articles have helped me clear my head over the last six months.

  6. It is hard to break into a community. a year + ago when I started my creative business and blog(s) I felt so much like the new kid. Each day I feel more and more a part of the community. Part of the inclusion is due to Scoutie Girl and TCE. You do such an excellent job of creating a positive and welcoming community.

  7. Thank you for this – it’s exactly what I needed to read this week. Participating in communities is hard sometimes, especially when you’re prone to feeling like an intruder on a good day. Sometimes you need the reminder to just keep putting yourself out there!

  8. I have been lazy so thanks for this. Even if no one is listening… That resonates with me. I can and should do this for myself.

  9. Thank you for this post Tara-it is the perfect start to my day! I have struggled with finding a physical community to belong to. I grew up in a city and while I remember there being a vibrant community when I was a child, cities are so transient that what you return to is always reinventing itself and you need to begin all over again every time you come “home”.

    I am learning that home and community are two fundamentally different things and a sense of belonging to something larger then yourself can come just as easily via email as face-to-face. This is such a liberating concept to me! I can go anywhere and my community is right there with me. It’s a beautiful thing. We are actually planning to sell our city house and move to a seaside farm because although I have always wanted to live in the country I have been terrified that my tattoos and radical ideas would brand us as outsiders and my children would suffer for that. I never would have thought that the internet of all things would free me from those fears.

    I am learning that there will always be those who will put you on the outside looking in and communities that will not open their arms for whatever reason. But there are also open doors, new friends waiting, opportunities to learn and grow, countless communities that would value my contribution.

    Bringing new ideas to the tables and sharing them is as powerful as breaking bread face-to-face. Thank you for the reminder that there is community all around me, I just need to pull up a chair (and bring wine).

  10. Well now I’m crying again – Tara you are a terrible girl :) I don’t feel like I belong anywhere no matter what groups I am in I feel so totally misunderstood and damn it I have just had a severe nervous breakdown because 12 yrs on, I am still seeing drs and having my head messed about with. I can barely think straight and even writing and being a photographer are so difficult for me at the minute – the 2 things that always saved my soul.
    Thank you for your words x

  11. Communities are hard.

    But I have learnt my lesson of trying to weave my way into a community that I was not passionate about. I thought I could just waltz in and just take a community under my wings, that I had no understanding of, or passion in learning in. Big mistake. But with the mistakes made, I also learnt a lot too, and ultimately allowed me to figure out what my “values” were, thus allowing me to get closer to the “real me” and hopefully to create the right “community”.

    That above lesson also has taught me to be just true to yourself and just be the best person you can be in the community you are involved in and care about it :)

  12. What great words of encouragement! I have come to love my blog-it doesn’t make money-I don’t do how to’s-mostly I just share about life and my art-I keep talking even though no one might be listening. I have tried to change things up, tried to do things a different way but it never felt authentic. You are so right when you say “Be who you are…”
    Thanks for keeping it true!

  13. Nicely put. When I first realized there was an online community and there were a lot of people out there like me, I was thrilled. Having moved from country to country several times, ‘belonging’ was not something I could count on. I realize I am very much still on the fringes, but I’m ok with that, as I don’t feel I need to prove my worth to complete strangers. I work ethically, with integrity and to a high standard and my customers, family and friends know that, even if the rest of the world never finds my happy little corner of the creative community.

    Jessika’s response really resonated with me, too, and I am now even more pleased to have had the opportunity to ‘meet’ her and be a tiny bit involved in her community.

  14. Thanks for the advise and encouragement…. I have been feeling that the road was hard and rough…but thanks to you I do now see a light at the end of it …

  15. What a great post. Sometimes it feels so hard to jump in – like someone will look you up and down and deem you unworthy. (Who is this person? In my mind it’s the Regina George of the creative community. “Oh my god, that skirt is the ugliest effing thing I’ve ever seen.”)
    But there are so many of us, it’s actually easy to start a conversation! You just have to dip a toe in the water and see what happens.

  16. I struggle with this a lot. I write about budget design and it’s hard not to feel like I need to “keep up with” the “cool” kids… especially since, they are people who I admire and like a lot. But every time I start to think this way, I lose MY voice and can’t manage to write a darn thing.

    I’d love to see/read more posts ways to dip your toe into the water without feeling like you’re kissing up or trying to get in on someone’s coat-tails. :)

  17. “I’d love to see/read more posts ways to dip your toe into the water without feeling like you’re kissing up or trying to get in on someone’s coat-tails.”
    YES. I always feel like I’m going to come off as fake even when I’m trying to be genuine. Tricky tricky.

  18. Love this post! there have been so many times I wanted to comment on various posts here & there but stopped myself because I didn’t feel part of the established group, or couldn’t think of anything that would “add to the conversation” in some omg-best-comment-ever kind of way. Some goes with twitter, etc.

    Shauntelle & Nadine – ” “I’d love to see/read more posts ways to dip your toe into the water without feeling like you’re kissing up or trying to get in on someone’s coat-tails.” YES. I always feel like I’m going to come off as fake even when I’m trying to be genuine. Tricky tricky.”
    – Me too! I try to sound positive & friendly but then am afraid I sound like a phony.

    “There is food & shelter for us all.” – Need to keep this in mind.

  19. Wow! Thank you for this –one of the best articles I’ve read online in weeks. Perfect for this time of year too. It’s such a busy time that often I forget what all this is about. It’s about people. Thanks Tara!

  20. Not only was the article inspiring to keep on the journey, the “replys” were incredible. That is the community right? Happy Holidays to you all!
    As someone once said…Keep On …Keepin On……

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