Building a community couldn’t be more important, especially if you are an expat. Life is all about people – isn’t it? And when you leave all your beloved behind and start a living in another part of the world, where perhaps you don’t even speak the language – building a community becomes vital.
If you have lived your entire life in your hometown and especially if the town is a small one, you perhaps know every one and every one knows you. It could be a comfortable one (or not, depends on the situation). But despite this, we need communities at different stages of our lives. Our interest and priorities change, and so does our community. For example, if I buy a new house in a street which was unfamiliar to me, it would be nice to have nice neighbors, have a community feeling so that you help the neighbors and they help you when needed.
As nice as it sounds, however, building a thriving community is not so easy. Especially for expats. On top of that if you are an introvert, it absolutely complicates the situation. To build a community for an introvert means, you have to out of your comfort zone. Added to that, if you a highly sensitive person (HSP) as well, it would create a lot of stress and anxiety to create or to be in a part of a community. Every word that you say, you will have to think and rehearse, every word that you hear, will be weighed in considerably.
When we lived in a small town called Ratingen (near Düsseldorf in Germany), we were blessed to have a nice neighborhood. I wouldn’t say though that we had thriving community – I mean we didn’t really have neighborhood grill or party. But we had was nice neighbors, who would usually have some time to say hello and engage in a conversation however busy they are. Or they would sometimes stop by. We had a laundry room for the entire building in our basement. The laundry machines were not shared, they were owned privately, but whenever I would go down to use the machine, I would meet someone and we would chat for a while. Even as an introvert, those short encounters would refresh me. It has even happened sometimes that I heard someone footsteps on the staircase, I would run to open the door and whoever was going out or coming in would stop for a while. I often thought that this is the place where I can spend my entire life, especially old days. When we finally left the place, I was in total distress. My elderly neighbor gave me a tight hug and cried and made me promise that whenever we are in the vicinity, we will pay them a visit. Now this is a community.
I will continue with the rest in my next post.