I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between forged (or natural) communities, found (or circumstantial) communities, and forced (or situational) communities. (And yes, I like alliteration and groups of three perhaps a little too much 😅)
Forged communities are developed through trauma, whether emotional, mental, professional, or otherwise. You've gone through some SH!T together, and lived to tell the tale!
Found communities are ones that may have started due to circumstances (e.g. your neighbor) but quickly become your people. You know the ones... a friendship that might never have happened had you not been in the right place at the right time, but now you couldn't imagine yourself without that person.
And lastly, forced communities -- ones that aren't exactly your choice, whether because of a decision that was made for you by your manager, an over-eager neighbor, or a religious affiliation.
You may rely on each of these communities for different things, and at the end of the day, even if there are occasional annoyances, you find yourself depending on them when you need people around you.
It's been a rough week due to some devastating news about a friend colliding with one of the busiest weeks of the year for us (getting ready for Burning Man with my camp co-leads), and my found community has truly rallied. Looking ahead to being on playa with a community that is both forged (living in a completely barren desert for 8-16 days will do that to you) and found (I'd do just about anything for these people, as well as forced (I don't exactly have a choice about who shows up!) leaves me with some interesting thoughts to consider while I'm there over the next two weeks:
1) Do I have a preferred type of "meet cute" for a community? After all, it can be a variety of circumstances that lead to a found or forged community -- is there a pattern that leads to longer-lasting friendships?
2) Is a "forged" community stronger than a "found" community? Or is it just different stages of the same relationship: first, you find those people, and then you experience life together?
3) When others really need me, what kind of community member am I? Am I a "forged" community member who will empathize? A "found" community member who will run to aid? Or a "forced" community member who surprises everyone by showing up?
Whether you find yourself in the midst of a forged, found, or forced community these days, I hope you're able to dig in over these next few weeks, exploring both what you bring to the table and also what is most important to you about these communities. When we take time to study where we are, we often learn some of our most valuable lessons, and it's our communities that guide us there.
And with that... I'm signing off for my end-of-summer sabbatical. 👋❤️ See you all in a few weeks!