Find yourself friends who can help you go far in life
From yoga to writing to emergencies, these are my people.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone,” says the old African proverb. “If you want to go far, go together.”
I had just walked out of my marriage after 17 years. I was on a journey of discovery, asking myself the Big Questions: Who am I? And what the hell was I thinking?
That was when the email landed in my inbox. It was an invitation to learn how to teach yoga.
Yoga? As in leggings, incense, and conversations about the life-giving force of prana? At first, I was irritated. Then I asked myself another Big Question. Why not?
I took a deep breath and opted in, ragged soul and all.
My year of training as a yoga teacher revealed the answers to those questions, as I immersed myself in a community that doesn’t even know how to spell the word “judgy”.
Loud and sweary? We hug you. Rubbish at silent retreats, and as bendy as a stapler? We laugh with you. Exhausted, overwhelmed? We give you space without judgement.
My yoga community is one I feel deeply privileged to know. It keeps teaching me how to be gentle, accepting, and true to myself. And there are other communities too.
When you are divorced and facing surgery, as happened to me recently, community is an emergency contact when you’re filling in a hospital form.
My father had passed away. My husband was signed away. My daughter is too young to get That Call. Who was I supposed to put on that ominous dotted line? My friendship community.
The friends who stuck their hands in the air to take me to the hospital (I was going to Uber!), fetched me from the hospital, helped me go for my first checkup, grabbed food from Woolies when the app refused to work for me (again – it hates me so), ferried me to a braai because “you need to get out, you weird gamer”, and spent time chatting to me on the phone from the remote land of Cape Town, when I felt lonely or worried.
Then there’s my writing community. An anthology of authors I discovered when doing my Masters. American, British, Irish, and other dodgy combinations, these humans are always at the end of a mechanical keyboard with words of wisdom, encouragement, and humour.
Want to turn any sentence filthy? Want to rediscover your laughter? Get yourself a chapter of writers, or just one pet writer. Just remember to feed them.
These different people from different worlds have reminded me over and again that community is worth pursuing. Because community can be transformative.
That said, there does need to be a warning on the label. Community has power, and it can go both ways.
Think communities that define snobbery or cruelty. Think groups that exclude people who don’t fit their mould or obey the rules. These are in movies, TV series, and your life. And they can wound deeply.
When an entire group wraps you in a negative narrative, it’s hard not to believe them. It’s almost impossible not to be swept into group-think.
It is better to be alone than within a community that tears you down.
Just remember, community needs to inspire and protect and connect. As you dive into the new year, seek out the communities that ground, connect, inspire, transform, challenge, ignite, excite, and hold you.
And go far with them, together.