Sunday, December 14, 2008

The search for community

As vacation began in earnest yesterday, I took care of a few minor items like buying sunglasses, a new pair of running pants, and getting a hole drilled into an IPod so that I can use it on a key ring. (I've lost 3 IPod shuffles already, and I don't intend to lose a fourth. They're smaller than crackers!) It felt good to be productive.

But after I finished the tasks, I realized how lonely I felt. Though I've found a calling in journalism, I don't feel like I've found a community at school. I've made a few friends here and there, but no one very close. I've been welcomed into one or two NYU cliques, but it never seemed to fit.

During my semester in Ecuador, there was a night when I was trying to find a party being held by a group of exchange students in our program (who again weren't close friends.) I kept calling people for the location, but wasn't getting any calls back. I was walking around the apartment, fuming, and the host brother in the family saw me and called me over. He said, "You have to stop trying to follow people. Follow your interests, and they will lead you to people." I've tried to live by that ever since.

I've been in groups that went out to bars, and I felt out of place because I don't like to drink. I've been embraced by religious groups but felt out of sync on many issues of faith. There's this struggle for me between yearning for a community and needing personal integrity: if I cannot be myself in a group, then going after a place within it is in vain: either I end up being uncomfortable or fake.

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