Solitude Vs. Community


Pros and Cons to living in a small, tight knit community:

1. You always have someone around to make you laugh or give you a hug if you need it.
2. There are always fun events happening like cheesecake parties, Indian Food dinners, spontaneous jam sessions, etc.
3. You grow in ways you never imagined you could as a human being
4. You learn a lot from just being around so many people who are different from you.
5.  If you run out of clothes because you haven’t done laundry in two weeks then there is always someone willing to lend you their clothes (not that i know this from experience or anything.)

1. People are always taking/using your stuff
2. Sleep deprivation is a way of life
3. Germs spread like crazy
4. You have to learn to live peacefully with people you really don’t like
5. Everyone knows everything you do and the word “privacy” doesn’t exist.

So I have been thinking a lot about this lately trying to figure out what it means for me…perhaps it is the onset of a new school year which makes my job about a thousands times more intense and stressful. Working at a post-secondary institution has it’s pros and cons for sure and I am learning  both extremes and finding it difficult to find the balance. At least the balance between community and solitude.  Perhaps they are two opposite ends of the same spectrum. Someone once explained to me that there is no such thing as ‘balance’ between two opposing extremes–there is only tension.  One side pulling you one way and the other tugging you back. That’s how I feel lately–like the centre knot in a game of tug-of-war.

I have been wondering if there is such a thing as TOO MUCH community?  There is a new trend among my generation that is in essence a revolt to the individualistic-skyskraping-Western-society in which we live. People all over North America are forming small communities, growing their own food, and saying “no thanks” to urban condo life.  I guess you could say I’ve hopped on that train.  But now I am wondering where the hell is the balance?

The truth is I love being alone. Right now you are nodding along because you also think you like being alone but you don’t really understand. By alone I really mean ALONE–not this “alone but together” crap.  I am coming off a summer where I spent copious amounts of time by myself  (by choice) to suddenly having my life and home become a revolving door, so I know my reaction is a little on the extreme side. But still I feel like I have to deceive my friends in order to just get a few minutes of time to myself–that can’t be good!

Everyone says how great and important it is to have a community around you, but let me tell you…sometimes it’s over-rated. To the person who is feeling lonely right now, I’m sorry if I’m appearing ungrateful. I’m not. I am just using my blog to confess in front of all you hippie community lovers that although I am an extroverted, social person by nature, right now I just want to be left alone.

…And it’s not because there’s something wrong and I need a hug…

…And no there’s nothing i want to talk about…

I actually just want to be all by myself for long periods of time because I like it more than hanging out with anyone, even if you are a close friend…or John Mayer…or the Pope. Please don’t take it personal…it’s me, not you. And please have some patience and grace for me because the last thing I ever want to do is hurt a friend, or worse, to lose one.

There. I’ve said it.  I can’t help that I’m actually quite individualistic after all and am lustily drooling over the thought of my own condo right now. Maybe I’m not cut out for this community stuff after all and can’t overcome my white suburban predisposition.

There goes my chance to be the next Jean Vanier…or Henri Nowen (look them up if you don’t know who they are–they have both written some phenomenal stuff on community). I guess I’m just not the person I always thought I was.

And I think I’m o.k. with that.


5 Responses to “Solitude Vs. Community”

  1. 1 Tim September 16, 2007 at 12:24 am

    This couldn’t be more true what you write Shelley. Oh man the things I could say that would agree with you but would get me into trouble.

    Maybe this is why we can do what we do. A long road trip sounds good right about now doesn’t it?

  2. 2 sweetlybroken September 16, 2007 at 2:44 am

    and yet you want to be married? come here, i’ll give you the keys to my place and come back to kick you out after a few days. there is no balance only comprimise, sorry.

  3. 3 shelleyperry September 16, 2007 at 3:27 am

    when did I say i wanted to be married? stop putting words in my mouth missy! ha ha…after the LAST blog I DEFINITELY have new views on THAT.

  4. 4 Rachel September 20, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    There’s just something about time alone that gives a person time to…rest? or something. It’s a good thing.

    When I was a baby, sometimes I’d cry and nothing would help until Mom would put me in my crib to play alone…though I loved people.

    We need everything in balance.

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