The gravity of the statement, “community matters”, has gained more weight in my life. Recently I started a gofundme (www.gofundme.com/lethompson), to ask for support to purchase a new mac laptop since my hardware is ancient and is no longer supported by software developers and, the result of starting that gofundme has been phenomenal. It’s been a little over a week and I’m a little over a third into completing my goal. That said, I’ve been genuinely surprise with the love and support that I’m experiencing in this venture. Many people have shared, liked, and some have donated – and I’m sure others will too – but the fact that my friends, my people, are doing this for me is mind-blowing.
It’s mind blowing because I was raised to not ask or receive help, so to get it is someone shell-shocking to me – in a good way. My family and for many people who grew up Black, I was taught to never be vulnerable. Emotional intellect was lacking from my upbringing. I think growing up where my mother had to work eighty plus hours a week to take care of my sister and I, didn’t leave much room to care about our emotional development. In addition my mother was abused as a child and didn’t learn the skills to be loving, kind, and warm that translated as love and kindness. Don’t get me wrong, my mom and my dad were there for me financially, I didn’t want for anything, but when it came to validating me, lifting me up, having me to feel and believe that I could do anything, well, it wasn’t there. And I hated them and my family for that lack for a long time. It wasn’t until I got out of my own traumatic emotional experience(s) of my past that I was able to see the truth, the truth being they didn’t know how to be vulnerable; they didn’t know how to lean on people for support; both of my parents had a grit your teeth and take it, mentality. Thus, it wasn’t until I became an adult and started practicing my faith that I learned to let go of destructive habits. I learned that pride is hell of a drug and for my parents, their pride was through the roof – hence, the not leaning on anyone – but God through his word has taught me to not be prideful and heck, to not lean on my own understanding, but to acknowledge God in all my ways. That said, I’ve learned to let me pride go – the pride that said I had to do everything on my own – purchase this laptop on my own – I reached out.
In this endeavor, I am allowing myself to experience love and support. And I truly mean allowing myself to experience it, because while it was always around, I never allowed myself to experience being supported – not truly. But I am now, and now, I understand the importance of community.
Community doesn’t have to be a large group of people; community as I’ve experienced it and will define it is, people being there to support me when I’m in a low space and a high space. My community hold me accountable and isn’t afraid to tell me I’m being messy; my community isn’t afraid to love and be affectionate; my community possess strong emotional intelligence; and I’ve been doing a disservice to myself by not being honest in my community when I’m in a low space – e.g. financially, emotionally, mentally.
That said, I encourage everyone to cultivate their community. Most time it means letting people go and letting new people in – yes, you need new friends, despite what Drake would have you believe – because think about this, if people aren’t making me a better person and I’m not making them a better person, then why are we in each other’s community?
Peace and Love