The people we surround ourselves with have a huge impact on our wellbeing. These communities can build us up or make us feel terrible about ourselves or anywhere in-between. I have found myself part of a variety of communities, some more positive than others and the effects of these interactions can be profound and lasting.
The community that has most shaped my life wasn’t a homogenous group of people just like me. It was a community of people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and personalities that taught me just how beautiful it is that so much diversity exists and that each person is unique and has something all their own to offer. I grew up doing community theatre. I was in my first show when I was nine and I quickly knew that I found a community for me. There was even a dog!
After that first show, I continued to gravitate toward this community throughout junior high and by high school it was more like a family. As part of that community, I felt supported and valued. It was a community unlike any other I experienced as an adolescent in school, where the “goal” was to be just like each other. I looked all around my adolescent teenage girl world and just saw all of the same: Girls desperately trying to be like each other with little to no regard for celebrating what made us each different. I was lucky. I found a place where each person’s unique art was appreciated and celebrated. A sanctuary of differences that encouraged a curiosity of self, to reach further into who I was without a care in the world for what other people thought.
Beyond this lack of pressure to conform, this community was a place where often others believed in me before I believed in myself. Having that external validation when I was so insecure internally made me realize my potential. On multiple occasions I didn’t think I was good enough for a show or a dance or whatever the challenge was at the time. It was other people believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself that kept me from throwing up my hands and not even trying. Even in the face of failure, this community celebrated the effort and empowered me to keep trying.
Sure, it’s great to not need external validation, but sometimes we are in a place where we need someone else to bet on us and see our beauty because we are so blinded with what we see as glaring flaws. Being surrounded by people who see the beauty in you even when you can’t see it yourself is powerful and allows us to catch a glimpse of what other people see in us.
What happened within the arms of that seemingly misfit community continues to shape who I am and what I stand for in the world. Not only am I interested in evolving my own self with complete disregard for what other people think, but I embrace and support people who look, think, and act nothing like me.
I’m not saying you need to go out and join a theatre group or even that all are as positive an experience as I had. I got lucky and found a supportive community. I have been changed deeply by the people I surround myself with and that has driven me to want to create that space for other women. Sassy Pants is a community for women of all walks of life to interact with and support each other through our journeys. In a world where there is so much pressure to conform to what other people tell us is beautiful we need communities that looks at each person and sees the raw, unaltered beauty that already exists.
With a zeal for all things baked goods and puzzles, Tamara leads our Wellness Team here at Sassy Pants. She's driven to understand and help people right as they are. She's got a big heart for people (and Lego Batman) and a love of all things science.