Personal Communities

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It’s funny how it can take a good clearout or spring clean to remind you of all the snippets and forms of community surrounding you. At the start of this week, I started clearing out my room and moving things about in order to create more space, and in the process, I uncovered multiple mini treasure-troves of souvenirs, birthday cards, school reports, a yearbook and christmas gifts that I had received over past years.

Opening each one felt like unlocking a forgotten mental safe of memories and friendships that defined those points in my life. Especially finding the more detailed or written-in cards, and a few unopened ones, in a strange way reminded me of who I was at that stage, and who I have grown – and continue to grow – into. After being distracted from my original spring-cleaning task for long enough, I came to realise how your ‘community’ – your supporters, friends, family, mentors, teachers, even employers or colleagues, can extend far beyond your consciousness of its existence.

It can be easy to discount certain ‘invisible’ members of your community, especially if we do not hear from them as frequently as those closer to us. Even if simple gestures such as Christmas or birthday cards can seem generic or empty, to an extent, its sender did think of you and consider you a part of his or her community, enough so to extend such a gesture of acknowledgement and well-wishing towards you.

Inevitably as you go forward in life, you will lose some of those relationships and networks, but it is somewhat exciting to think back and witness how these members of your community have somehow shaped you, inspired you, taught you a lesson and more. Plus, if you’re ever feeling unsure about your growth or who you are and what you have accomplished, looking through these little accounts of yourself written by people who are important to you can re-affirm the positive elements about you, but also enlighten you to some constructive (mostly constructive, but not always!) criticism about yourself that you may have worked on since then. In a way, I like to think about it as a sort of autobiographical diary.

Flipping through these souvenirs felt quite therapeutic, and turned a rather mundane task into a pleasant and fulfilling one! Despite this, it made my task slightly harder as I felt reluctant to dispose of them but hey, I guess part of moving on is letting go….

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