Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Value of Community

You guessed it. I took some time out to refocus, which is why this blog hasn't seen much activity for a while. We all need time to refocus and figure out what the heck it is that we're doing sometimes! I'm back now, for real.

Over the last several weeks, I've gone for 15 information interviews (that left a big dent in my wallet... all those coffee dates!) and met a vast number of people here in Victoria. A good friend of mine who is a social worker (and also has a hearing loss herself) told me that information interviews were the best way to meet new people, and tap into the hidden job market. Job hunt aside, I've really enjoyed getting out and meeting new people. We've been on the Island for three years and in the last few weeks, I've made more connections than the entire time we've been here. 
Who doesn't love coffee?? Mmmmm

It hit me like an anvil on the coyote's head: creating a community doesn't start by just going out to events, it also means creating meaningful connections with others who share the same interests, concerns and ideas as you do. It means reaching out to others beyond your comfort zone. I feel more at home now that I've found my way through the Victoria population. Believe it or not, pretty much everyone here knows someone that you know! It's like living in the twilight zone. Growing up in a Vancouver suburb, it was incredibly rare to meet someone that knew someone within your circle of friends. I guess that's what happens when you live in a smaller city!

When I tell someone who I'm meeting for the first time that I have a hearing loss, they are normally pretty chill about it - and that makes me feel pretty awesome. Ever since I started getting out and about, I'm more at ease with letting people know that I do sometimes miss stuff. Last week I went into the pool for my daughter's weekly swim lessons, and this usually means the entire session is pure silence for me. At the end of the class, they usually have 'warm pool' time where the kiddos can warm up before getting changed. One of the fathers with his son said something to me, and my face sort of scrunched up - and I just blurted out: "I can't hear - but thanks for whatever you just said!" (I'm pretty sure he said something nice to the effect of: "our kids are so cute"). I think he got it, and kind of chuckled.
A glimpse of our swim lessons!
In another example using my daughter's swim lessons, the very first class she had, I was standing next to one of the moms and immediately told her that I had a hearing loss. She just nodded and smiled at me, and mouthed "oh ok! No problem!" (you know who you are... thank you for being so awesome). Because I was upfront with her about my circumstances, we're going out for coffee next week with our girls! It totally pays off to let go of insecurity.
Community comes in many shapes and forms, but ultimately we're the ones who can create our own personal communities. For me, it's letting go of my insecurities and being the person that I'm meant to be. Carpe Diem!


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