This post has sat in my drafts folder for two years now (as of September 10th) and it’s probably about time I do something with it or delete it for good. For whatever reason, I’ve been under a serious case of writer’s block in recent weeks. Not because I don’t have anything to say but because I’m not sure how to say it in a way that anyone else would care to read about. I don’t know how to keep a personal blog from becoming narcissistic and self-promoting. Hmm, anyway…time for some narcissism.
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a crowd where you look around and realize, “these are my people!”? I have and it’s a fabulous feeling. It has made me loosen my grip on “personal space,” to link arms with a stranger, sway back and forth, and belt out “Cheer up Sleepy Jean” at the top of my out-of-tune lungs.
Note: Unfortunately I missed out on this particular sing-along. Though I was upstairs in this very hotel at the time *sigh*
The inspiration for this post came about thanks to the camaraderie I felt in finding “my people” during the 2011 Monkees tour. You can read all about my adventures here. During the tour, a facebook “like” page called The Monkees Tour, as well as the page of Peter Tork (which had WAY fewer likes back in the day) served as the virtual coffee-house where I met a number of people who, like me, secretly (or very openly) proclaimed their long-felt love of the 1960s television band. The seriously amazing thing that came about from that sense of being surrounded by “my people” was real, face-to-face friendships!
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
In the time since, I’ve met at least a dozen of these wonderful people–some of us even exchange Christmas cards and send each other birthday and wedding gifts. And amazing, surreal experiences have resulted.
This type of fandom camaraderie had happened to me once before, in a little place called Stuckeyville.com. Unfortunately, with the cancellation of the television show Ed in 2004 (before facebook), that web-based community dwindled until it ceased to exist. But just in the last year I got to visit one of my long-time “Ed” friends in person for the first time. And it was just like old times.
I work in the relatively small field of historic preservation. Several times since beginning my professional journey back “in the year 2000” I found myself at national conferences full of THOUSANDS of other preservationists. There’s something about knowing what it’s like to be called a “hysterical preservationist” or to have your well-meaning aunt introduce you as working at the historical society for the umpteenth time that immediately binds you to all others in the field. Well, maybe that’s being a bit dramatic but we building huggers are a misunderstood breed (much like Monkees fans) and nothing binds folks together better than feeling equally persecuted. Right? And a stirring speech by Mr. Donovan Rypkema really gets our blood boiling! You can imagine how excited I am that the next one of these cult-like gatherings is happening in my city (Indianapolis, which I still claim even though I no longer live there) and will even be spending a whole day celebrating my hometown (Columbus, Indiana)!
I think cliques are usually viewed in a negative light but I’d argue they’re essential to finding one’s way through adolescence. Like most things cliques can be used for good or evil, to build-up or tear-down, to encourage or to exclude. My high school clique was the band and these days when geekdom has become so cool, I’m proud to proclaim that “yes! I was a band geek!” 22 years after first stepping on a field I still get chills watching old performances. I remember standing among my peers having just completed a show for which we had practiced, memorized, and drilled for hundreds of hours, and hearing the sound of the crowd cheer and the words “Superior with Distinction” coming across the loud speakers. I felt special. I felt I belonged. I felt I had purpose and was a part of something bigger than myself.
Perhaps the place where I most feel like I’m with “my people” is in my faith community. I’ve been blessed to have a church family to call my own for the last decade. Marriage and moving away has reminded me how important this community of believers has been to my life. I don’t take that for granted. We’re in the challenging position now to find a new church family that works for us as a couple in the community where we now live. I’m reminded of how scary it is to walk in the doors of an unfamiliar church as a first-time visitor. Of the pressure you feel to not offend anyone if you find it just isn’t the right place for you. Of the anxiety you feel that you may never find that right place to serve, minister, and be ministered to. Despite this, almost anytime I have a chance to worship with other believers I feel that sense of community, of oneness, of “my people.” Our differences are not as great as what binds us together.
How About You?
When have you had those “my people” moments? At a sporting event? A political rally? I’d love to hear where you find your sense of camaraderie!