Creating your own community is important for your mental health but it also has great financial benefits.
I grew up in Hobart, Tasmania and have lived in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. Growing up we were connected with various communities such as the football community of the club my dad played for, our family on both sides, our school, our church and our neighbours. Being so connected helped everyone. There were things like babysitting each others kids, buying in bulk, doing potluck dinners, bartering (for example, my parents renovated our home quite cheaply with bartering and help from our community). When we travelled we camped or often stayed with friends and family.
When I was going through my divorce and as I have rebuilt my life I have relied heavily on my community of family and friends (especially in Canberra) for babysitting, help with work, advice and when I was sick they assisted with cleaning, taking my kids to school and more.
How do you create a community for yourself?
It takes time. You won’t create a magical community overnight, but it’s worth it.
1.) Get involved in something
Join a club, go to church, get involved in your local community or talk to parents at the school your kids attend if you want (personally, I avoid this one, I find them too cliquey and have only made 1 solid friend at each school my daughters have attended). Get out there and be active. It is hard at first, but there are so many ways to do it.
Previously, when I moved, I would go to church and have an instant community. I am no longer a member of that church so creating my community in Melbourne was more challenging. I have made a few friends at the school, relied on other parents and expanded our community a little with my daughters now playing football. I still rely on my support network in Canberra and Tassie at times, but for the most part, I am creating one here.
2.) Be willing to help others
Having a community and support networks requires you to help others, not just be the one getting help. I have kids over, or we go to the park. I do some social media for my daughters football club and I attend various events, volunteering here and there as well. Be involved, be willing to chip in and be willing to accept help when offered.
3.) Be discerning
Not everyone is happy, caring and giving. Not everyone will get along or have the same views as you. Be discerning about who you trust, who you want to get involved with and trust your instincts! When my daughters started school I had an uneasy feeling about a few of the parents I met. I tried to ignore it, however, later I found out I had reason to feel that way. If you feel something is off, or don’t want to connect with certain people, that’s ok. Being part of the same group or attending the same things doesn’t mean you have to befriend everyone. You can be polite and friendly without inviting people into your inner social circles.
4.) Go online
While online is not the same as in person, you’d be surprised at the communities out there. I am a member of numerous Facebook groups and have met great people in there, been given tips, advice and support.
One of the best communities I belong to is part of a conference I am speaking at again, FinCon. It was actually this community that gave me the strength and confidence to leave my abusive marriage, support through it, then more support and love when I was extremely sick and at my grandfathers funeral. Most live on the other side of the world from me, but they are incredible and I love being able to see them each time I go to the conference.
Other online communities through Facebook and Meetup have connected me with interesting people, opened up my networks and given me great events to attend.
So get out there and develop your community today.