Isolation Is More Powerful Than Community
In our first year out of college, it seems as if we all want is to find a job that allows us to travel. There is something so appealing about the excitement of meeting new people and the never-ending adventures in each new place you’ll visit. It’s a chance to step out of your comfort zone and truly challenge yourself to live independently. Traveling is a fun (the best) alternative to the sometimes dreadful 9-5 office job.
If you would have told me a year ago that for my first job I would get to travel all across the United States for an organization I care so deeply about, I wouldn’t believe you. I desperately wanted to travel for a living, and I’m actually doing it!
I travel with one suitcase and one carry on and visit a new city about every week. My elevator speech actually includes the line, “My office is my suitcase.” As I write, I’m realizing that my job is the real deal and I absolutely love it.
I also want to acknowledge that it’s a lonely job.
I get to meet absolutely amazing, inspiring women every day, but I only have one week to get to know them, then I’m off to a new city. I am around people all the time, but I am hardly, if ever, around people who know me... people who know my habits, my past and my passions--the friends who know that I am not a morning person and never will be and the mentors who see my strengths and appreciate that I am a competitive person.
Until I spent a week of vacation with my very best friend, I didn’t realize how much this was affecting me. When I lived in Nashville for college, I was a part of several different communities. I was surrounded by people who I depended on for support and encouragement, friends who understood me, listened to me and wanted to know me.
Recently, I have struggled to articulate my feelings, confront my challenges and be vulnerable with others. Without an easily accessible community, I am simply out of practice. I don’t often have the chance to turn off my professionalism and just be me.
My best friend explained it best when she said, “Isolation is more powerful than community because it changes the way you manage relationships.”
Whether you are traveling or living in a new city, you must make an effort to create this community and continue to build relationships even when it’s not easy. For me, this means I need to stop ignoring my need to feel heard and supported and make an effort to connect with friends while I’m on the road.
You and I have friends who love us and see the amazing impact we are making through our jobs. Let’s agree to stop “being strong” and “living independently” because it is not realistic. Life without community will leave you feeling empty and lost, even if you have your dream job.