We All Need Community (And That’s Okay)

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In the 1950s, Lucy and Ethel needed each other.

Their friendship made sense. Lucy brought adventure and Ethel supplied wisdom. Lucy dove right in and Ethel followed—a reluctant supporter and frequent rescuer of Lucy and her crazy antics.

After all, when your life consists of candy-factory jobs, charm school, two whole sides of beef and the attempted thievery of John Wayne’s footprints—for crying out loud—you’d better bring a friend along.

But for men and women trudging through the mundane details of everyday life, friendship doesn’t seem so . . . necessary.

In fact, it almost feels like an afterthought. To actively pursue community with another adult is to pretend that friendship matters more than the countless other things demanding our attention. Who could be so desperate?

The truth is we’re all desperate for connection. Science proves that the desire for friendship is formed into our DNA. And thank goodness, right? It’s easy to hide things that are rooted so deep.

But hiding this need is a bad idea. You see, friendship isn’t for the weak—it’s for the healthy. Taking time to build community actually adds years to your life and joy to your days.

Yes, finding a friend takes work, but it’s worth every effort.

We know what you’re thinking: I am connecting! And super busy. And, frankly, too old to make new friends. Besides, what if she doesn’t like me? What if he thinks I’m a total bore?

Social media is a community, and we get that. We really do. But it’s not enough.

We should be able to reach out and find a friend reaching back. Real community happens when each person brings something to the party. That’s what’s so great about friendship!

We needed someone to get us through middle school crushes, high school breakups and college finals. Why wouldn’t we need a friend now? As adults, we face the biggies: marriage, parenting, career changes, death, divorce, financial struggles, choosing a church, moving to a new home, you name it.

The difference now is community isn’t forced upon us. We’re not sitting in class next to the same person each day. We’re not riding the bus with our friends and eating lunch with our pals. We’re sitting in our living room with the TV, driving our kids in the car, and eating lunch at our desk.

We’re no longer living in community. We’re living in isolation.

And hey, we’re busy. Life’s moving forward with or without us. Research shows that friendship is the first thing to go when our schedule fills up. We pencil in relationships and write to-do lists in permanent ink.

Friendships just don’t happen by accident to adults.

To find a friend, we must go looking. Community is at your fingertips. You’ve got neighbors, coworkers and church members who are longing for a friend. There are things you love to do, hobbies long forgotten, activities that are best enjoyed when a pal is by your side.

So ask.

Yes, there’s a chance you’ll be rejected. The more likely response? Relief. A smile. A guy or gal who’s been waiting for an invitation, an opportunity to say yes.

You’re not the only one looking for a friend. We all need community—and that’s okay.

personal-development | @ChrisBrownOnAir