“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. “ - African Proverb
Last Sunday, during the closing words of a yoga class that just so happened to be taking place in my sunroom, I was reminded of the importance of community.
Community is an important value to me, both in my career and in my personal life. Most decisions I make are powered by a need to connect with others and a strong belief that things turn out better when we work together. It’s true, at times, that it’s easier to do things on your own, but I find the extra effort well worth it. It’s making a point to keep in touch with friends, taking a group exercise class, or gathering a handful of people at a coffee shop so we can dive into the Enneagram. These things help me feel rooted, balanced, and motivated by the people around me.
As a new therapist, I just didn’t feel drawn to a career in a solo practice, and instead, chose to collaborate with two other therapists in a wellness group. Even as a team of three, we still wanted more community connection, so we decided to office at an amazing co-working space full of energetic and supportive wellness professionals. There are so many open, loving, and talented people in this town ready to lead you, share their stories of success (or mistakes), and help you get to where you want to be. I’ve had a few therapist friends relocate to Austin, and what I hear over and over again is how open and welcoming they found the community. In other cities, they experienced closed doors, stiff competition, and information hoarding, which didn’t allow for people to connect and support each other. A supportive community gives people a space to be themselves, share what’s going on in their life, and leave feeling energized.
When I hear community, I think support, love, sharing, connection, spirit, and hospitality. The way I build community is through hospitality. I get a rush of joy from bringing people together. I love to host get-togethers and cook for people, gather friends on a porch to catch up, or plan a camping trip. I find there’s nothing better than a solid hangout. For some, the thought of a dozen friends showing up at their house hungry and ready to kickback all night would be less than ideal, but I live for it. When you get people together, sitting around a yard, a table, or a living room sharing a meal, telling their stories, dreaming with and learning from each other, you find what we all desperately need – connection.
My friend, Dixie, is in the process of completing her yoga teaching certification. After years of being away, she has found herself back in the ever-changing landscape of Austin. This year brought a career change and a relocation for her, yet she still managed to honor the commitment to herself to become a certified yoga teacher. She completed most of her certification and teaching hours back in Dallas but arrived in Austin needing just one last thing to make it official, a community class.
Our group of girlfriends jumped at the opportunity to take a class with her and planned for a Sunday afternoon yoga session. We put the word out to other friends, and come Sunday, there were seven of us spread through the house doing sun salutations. There were a few moments where, it being the first yoga class we had all taken together, the silence broke into fits of laughter. Overall, I’d say we did pretty well. The class was challenging, rejuvenating, and seemed to be what we all needed.
Dixie brought our practice to an end with a closing prayer where she thanked us and shared this – “I needed help, I asked for it, and you all showed up .” These simple words created a powerful statement that surprisingly brought several of us to tears. It brought us out of our self reflective yoga bliss to acknowledge that our presence there wasn’t only for us but really mattered to her. I was struck by the vulnerability she displayed by sharing how hard it was for her to ask us for a favor, the gratitude she felt, and the love of the people there in support of her. We felt honored to do a class with her, she felt grateful for our support, so we all felt good!
This moment touched me and led me to reflect on how fortunate I am to be a part of many different communities that support me. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or workout buddies, these communities lift me up and have the power to give me just what I need. It was an important reminder to not only ask for what you need, but to surround yourself with a community that will show up for you. Bottom line, it’s always better when we’re in this together.