Sunday, November 22, 2009

Community

A few years ago when I was pregnant with Matthew and thousands of miles from home, I realized I had no real community around me. Aside from the occasional chat with a neighbour and a few work colleagues, I had no friends in the city. I decided something had to change.

I needed people.

With a little effort I was lucky enough to meet a group of women at just the right time - all of us pregnant with our first children. We quickly became close friends, meeting every week with our new babies and our under-eye bags and our stories.

Seriously, God knows what I would have done without them these past few years.

I've never been good at asking for things. I'm still not. I like to project an I-don't-need-any-help-I-can-do-it-on-my-own-thank-you-very-much image. It wasn't until I was forced to admit I needed help that I finally did.

Even then, I was all... no no I'll be okay, I can still drive across the city, pick up groceries and make dinner for everyone despite not having slept for two weeks...

Then someone smacked me upside the head and said Sarah, guess what? You're not Superwoman!

When I gave birth to Oliver 19 months later, having a community around me became even more important. I needed people even more this time. I needed favours. I needed friends to talk to on the phone when I was having a really bad day. I couldn't do it alone.

Despite my natural desire to be self-reliant, I gave in to needing people, to needing a community. And when I needed them, they were there, dropping off dinners, bringing coffee, watching the kids so I could nap, helping me out in whatever way they could.

I was overwhelmed by their kindness. And it changed me.

I realized that being this independent, disconnected person wasn't as great as I'd imagined.

Then earlier this year I stumbled into another community - the blogging community. If I'd known there were so many great connections and friends to be made I would have been here years ago.

(Only problem with the blogging friends I've made is, they live too bloody far away from me! One day, with luck, I'll meet some of you for a coffee or a martini.)

Last week I witnessed scores of bloggers pull together for Anissa Mayhew. I've never met Anissa, but over the last week I've come to know her through all of the wonderful posts, tweets and messages people have written about her.

Isn't it amazing? I don't know Anissa, and it doesn't matter. Technology has allowed me to sit at home in my pajamas and think about some small way I might be able to help her family - even if it's just a prayer to start with.

Friends of Anissa, and people that don't even know her, are coming together to help, because that's what communities do.

If this year has taught me one thing, it's that community is so, so important. Because people need people. And because there's nothing like the feeling of being able to help someone else when they need it most. And because if I can pass on this lesson to my kids, then they too will grow up being part of something good.
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13 comments:

Chic Mama said...

Completely understand this.
I'm not very good at asking for help.....I still have a bit of it in me that sees it as a failure on my part if I can't do it alone. ( not that I view others like that)
When I had number one at 21 I was loathe to go to any groups but was feeling isolated....I forced myself to go every week and it took a while but those people became good friends.
The blogging community is amazing.

Loukia said...

Well said, my friend... community, whether in real life, or online, is very important! I love the blogging community - I would love to know so many of you in person - how great would that be? I hope to meet some of you at BlogHer - try to go, okay?
:) xo

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

What a beautiful post - I can absolutely relate to the I-don't-need-any-help-I-can-do-it-on-my-own-thank-you-very-much mantra - but having people and a community really does make a difference.

I love the blogging world for that very reason - and am always amazed at how everyone rallies around those that need it. Anissa is certainly in my thoughts and prayers!

Karen @ If I Could Escape . . . said...

Beautifully said!

PS We sound very alike in that I hate to ask for help too! It usually takes one of my dear friends to smack me upside the head too before I realise that help is nice!

ModernMom said...

I so relate to this post. I have never been a person who has been the type who can ask for help...I am the kind of girl who runs myself ragged trying to do it all myself! Silly huh?

And the blogging community? Provides more than I ever thought possible. Amazing.

Maternal Tales said...

I now - it's just unbelievable the bkogging community. When I started blogging I had no idea about it at all - I just wante to write a few little things, thinking that only those closest to me would read them. Funny thing is, not many of my 'actual' friends read the posts at all - it's always my blogging friends who support me most. And to think that there are tons of people out there who need support and have no idea about the blogosphere - if only they knew.

PS - Can't wait to share that Martini with you! xx

Maternal Tales said...

Damn, hate it when I don't check my typos. I meant 'I know', 'blogging' and 'wanted'...obviously!!

Elaine A. said...

I've learned that community is SO very important after moving to a new city this year.

And THIS community HERE is absolutely amazing and reaches across borders and oceans and into hearts. Amazing.

Captain Dumbass said...

My wife smacks me upside the head all the time, it doesn't seem to help.

amotherworld said...

Community is wonderful, especially the online community of bloggers and Twitter!

Lady Mama said...

Emily - next time I come back to England, I'm definitely coming to meet you for a martini. You're not far from my parents' place. :)

cartside said...

so true, so true. I too like to be self reliant, and I haven't yet managed to let go of this useless pride of asking for help when I need it. As far as the blogging community - I almost feel a bit lost in it, so many amazing people, so many amazing blogs.

Amanda said...

I, for one, am so happy to be part of your in-person community. And feel very lucky to have you in mine.

Isn't it funny how we all like to help others out and yet are so loathe to ask for any help ourselves?

Thanks for being on-call for middle of the night labour babysitting these last weeks! Now if only the darn baby would show up...