Well, it took about 15 years for me to get here, but I made it. Where? To a place where I am connected to my community. I was raised in a family who played active roles in their community so I knew how it should feel. It is just hard to do when you are a transplant. It takes time to develop relationships and trust and a feeling of belonging. It also requires a focused commitment. You have to want it. Where was I focused for the first 15 years? Me, my work, my co-workers. Was I satisfied, well, I thought I was. And I felt like I was on the right track. It was very one dimensional.
Feeling connected for me is walking in to a store or a church and knowing people by their names and having them know mine. It means talking with someone you see once a week like they were a long lost cousin, with something to catch up on and never a loss of words. That is very difficult for me, being a self diagnosed introvert.
Having a role in your community can be as simple as feeling connected. It doesn't mean you are leading, it just means you are present.
There was a horrific tragedy in the high school in my town almost two weeks ago and I had been observing from the outside; watching the media, reading the paper, talking to parents. It wasn't until yesterday, I felt the true magnitude of what had happened. With tears streaming down my face, I listened to the man who was active in managing the aftermath of the event. It wasn't a press conference so he had let down his guard. He spoke eloquently and with emotion. He was supported and congratulated by the others in the room and was further humbled by our recognition.
It shouldn't take an extreme event to bring a community together, but we've seen it happen before. Remember the feelings after 9/11? The re-prioritizing of life towards family and friends?
Being part of a community, in good times and in bad, is the "back to basics" kind of living that is fulfilling, or dare I say, that we were all meant to be a part of. Imagine what differences we could all make by having a role.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.