Communities help us thrive. I hadn’t truly grasped this concept until I found myself as a solo
18-year-old in Sydney, Australia searching for a new life. Unlike most international, I didn’t pack
up my belongings to study or tour, instead, I found myself in a big city with no connections and
nowhere to go.
Months before relocating, there wasn’t a day where I didn’t feel a sense of hopelessness, not wanting to get out of bed, doing ‘simple’ tasks such as brushing my teeth. This wasn’t teenage hormones or ‘just a phase’, but it was the silent killer – depression. Despite identifying why I was feeling so low, I decided to leave my country in hope that the suicidal thoughts, insomnia and helplessness would disappear by a one-way ticket across the globe.
When I stepped off the plane I wasn’t hit by that rush of hot air that tingle our veins and causes a holiday celebration. Instead, I was hit with feeling overwhelmed, a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach realising I made a hasty decision, acting on my emotions and not feeling the emotions and dealing with them. I felt more lost than ever before made worse by little to no support; emotionally, financially and especially socially.
It is human nature to feel comfortable within familiar settings, also places where we feel a sense of belonging, that for me was high school, because it had been what I had known for the most of my life; what I was familiar with. However, this was the first time in my life I lacked this, and at that moment I realised how important a community is and how much it helps us thrive.
After a few long weeks in Sydney, I was beginning to support myself, such as landing myself an au-pair role that provided a roof over my head, food on my plate and money in my pocket. What more could an 18-year-old want? But despite these securities, I still felt insecure. I still struggled to see the days through. I still had intrusive negative thoughts. That is when I realised that I could have all of the materialistic possessions in the world but not feel truly fulfilled. I needed to feel as though I belonged and that I could take up space and be heard.
With this in mind, I began to think of ways to engage with people of similar lived experiences, people that were eager to interact, be social, find their purpose and overcome their fears. That’s when I resonated with a youtube channel named ‘Yes Theory’. Despite watching for several years, their community ‘Yes fam’ held the answer that I had been searching for all along. With a mission of saying ‘yes’ to life-changing experiences and to step outside their comfort zones; much like I had already done by moving overseas in search of a new life, it seemed I had finally found a community that I could belong to and thrive in. Within a matter of days, I found myself meeting like-minded strangers, saying ‘yes’ to extraordinary experiences such as skydiving and finally feeling as though I was moving forwards rather than backwards.
But there was still one unanswered question; how did this community change my life overnight?
A community isn’t just a group of people, it brings people together as an action which in turn creates advocacy, support, growth by helping people think greater than themselves. It provides that belonging to people, like myself, who believe or believed they are alone. The reason communities like ‘Yes fam’ are able to change lives overnight is because of the fundamental benefits that they possess and work collectively: support, influence, sharing, and acceptance.
I had financial support, but lacked the emotional, belonging and social support that every human need and what ‘Yes fam’ offered as soon as I integrated. It not only provided personal support by connecting with other like-minded people, but also allowed me to expand my sense of self to support others, and feel as though I was influencing their lives. By participating in the community also known as community engagement, I began to feel empowered, worthy, heard and strong. All of which, before joining this community, I felt the opposite of. I could not develop and grow whilst feeling as though I had no value.
But I could and did because of how this community made me feel. It helped me thrive and it can help you, too.