Places vs People

I had coffee with a friend recently. We’re reading the same book and wanted to talk about it.

We began our conversation by talking about life and soon progressed to plans for the future. I’m not sure how we got to the subject, but eventually we discussed what community looks like for us and how important it is to us.

This is a murky subject for me. I’m an introvert, so my idea of community probably looks a lot different than your’s. In fact, I went to a birthday dinner this weekend with 14 or so friends and felt nervous most of the meal by the influx of people near me. Because of my minimalist view of socialization, it’s difficult for me to invision a future where my community is not the same as it is today.

As we discussed community, a similar topic came into focus – location. Specifically, I wondered out loud if community is something you sacrifice for geographic happiness. Which is more important, being around people you love or being in a place you love?

What if you’re happy with the people around you, but not with where you live? What if you’re an introvert who wants a new atmosphere, but the thought of having to develop a new group of friends makes you queezy?

I’ve voiced this concern to several friends since then. They’re mixed responses and experiences have been helpful.

Here are a few of my favorite answers to the question, “Do you search for geographic or communal satisfaction?”

1. Both. While this sounds like a cop-out, it makes so much sense. Typically, community compliments geography, and vice versa. However, if we search for geography in the right way, naturally community will follow.

2. Will we ever be happy with where we are? This was a huge punch to my gut. I can always find something to complain about. If I’ve found a group of people I’m willing to put up with and who will put up with me, why sacrifice that to complain a little less about where I live?

3. Live where you want and back-fill everything else. This is Bob Goff’s theory from his latest book, Multi-Careering. Bob commuted from San Diego to his law-firm in Seattle via plane. That’s tough, but it gave him exactly the balance he needed.

I attend school in Waco. My community is in Kilgore. Commuting there and back is different for sure, but it’s my way of balancing what I’m looking for in this season of life.