Ever since I arrived in Mexico I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about this place that resonates so much with me. I finally figured out that it’s community! I’m, honestly, not sure if it’s Mexico-specific but I am sure that I was missing it in the U.S.
The Void: Did It Only Belong to Me?
In the U.S. I felt like a loner, I wanted to connect with people, but it was like people didn’t want to connect. I was always searching for something more, like a deep yearning that wouldn’t go away. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t unhappy. In fact, I was very happy and content with where my life was going. There was no search for something or someone to make me happy. I made decisions based on my desires and needs and not other’s desires. My confidence in myself was at an all time high. I accepted my differences in thought and perspective from others (most of the time). I knew I was raising my son in a different manor than the majority or how society advises and that was also ok. But it was this hidden thing; the little nudge of “it’s still missing, and I don’t even know what it is”.
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A few weeks after arriving in Mexico I was sitting in the quiet of the night and realized that my secret yearning was gone. It stopped whispering to me throughout my days. I was at peace, a deep peace, and began to wonder why. What is it about being here that let my whisper rest? I’ve been simmering on it since that night and I believe I’ve figured it out. I want to share it with you. I truly believe I’m not the only one who has this little whisper so what is it?
Community is the Missing Link
In the U.S. we say we have community. We call our neighborhoods communities, we say we have a church community, we are a part of our children’s school community and so much more. I did all that. You know what, my neighborhood community hid their children until the school bus came to pick them up, so my son never had kids to play with. My church community was so large that it took intention to develop community. Even then, one could feel like, “I’m trying here but why is it still such a struggle”? In my son’s school, they knew me (and they knew me well!) and I knew them but there were no heart connections.
The Surface Connection
The busy-ness of the U.S., the concern about self, the fear of being vulnerable all play a part in forming community. I believe this allows us to form it juuuuuuussst enough, but not so much that we connect at that deep soul level. Maybe not everyone needs that. Perhaps many people are comfortable and very satisfied with surface connection but I wasn’t.
In addition to the deep connection, it’s just the set up of the US that also fosters this. Neighborhoods are pocketed. Seeing friends can take an hour drive and arranging a park day pushes out months because of everyone’s schedule. Wait! Let me stop. I was trying to justify other reasons for the lack of true community formation. But thatsalie! The more I type I realize, no, it boils down intention, desire, and vulnerability. Who is willing and who isn’t? As a society we aren’t taught to want this community and to go after it. We lack the intentionality around it and don’t see others as a enhancement to our daily lives.
Two Dynamics Here That Help Form Community
It occurred to me that here there are two dynamics at play here. The first is the traveler/expat scenario of being in a foreign land. It’s funny how my head turns the moment I hear someone speaking English. Or the smile my mouth forms when I see someone who, clearly, isn’t from here. It’s just a familiarity/comfort thing. As a friend told me, when in such a scenario, people band together because of the commonalities and similar feelings of being in a foreign land. It’s like, “hey, we’re here together so we may as well make the best of it”. This is so incredibly necessary because it’s hard living abroad. I share a bit about that here.
The other scenario is simply, community is everything here in Mexico and this is the big difference. Families live in the same compounds or doors apart from each other. Tough-looking, macho dads pick their kids up from school. The even carry their daughter’s glittery book bags on their shoulder’s while holding their hands walking home. Sundays are clearly family days, hanging in parks, enjoying food and relaxing. It’s just a different mindset, different intentions, different training.
We Are Not Alone and Don’t Have to Act Like We Are
This all comes together for me because our single mom community here instantly formed and clicked in a way I’ve been seeking with people at home for years. It’s not a knock to anyone at home, it’s just my truth. The kids clicked, the moms clicked, the kids and moms clicked. When we are offered help, it’s not just being said as a gesture. It’s sincerely offered and if you don’t take up the offer of help it’s happening anyway. LOL
Connection Overrides Everything Else
In addition, when I’ve found myself still in the rush, rush, rush I have been convicted simply by being here. I look around and see people enjoying the day, rushing nowhere. The are simply connecting. My need to be seen and see others as the true beings that we are, are met here. My need to stop and have conversations over needing to get an errand done is met here. People aren’t afraid of connecting here. The moms I’m here with are some of the most vulnerable people I’ve met…ever. I love that because the fear that blocks so many things; many of the things we all crave and desire and, in actuality, we need. We aren’t made for isolation and distance. We were made to connect, interact, love, help and see each other in the most raw and humane way.
What is it About the US?
I’m not sure what it is about the U.S. and why we’re so scared of this. Perhaps it’s not a fear but a programming, an unawareness. I really don’t know but I do know that I found what my heart has been seeking here and I’m going to hold onto it while I can.
If you have this yearning too (and don’t feel like moving to Mexico lol) check out, Friendships Don’t Just Happen by Shasta Nelson. This book can be the booster you need to move past the surface. You just may find that community right at home with a little effort.