For years after 8th grade ended, I could always cheer myself up with the thought that no matter how bad things were, at least I was no longer in middle school.
My tiny middle school contained some classes with less than 10 people in them. And we had been together forever. Since kindergarten.
The problem was, I never fit in. Not really. I was shy and insecure. And I had huge hair, zits, braces, and glasses. When I walked the halls, the boys would act like their heads were exploding, mimicking the sheer volume of my crazy curls (which I now love).
And gym class. Oh, gym class. The 45 minutes of the day I dreaded the most.
In 7th grade, we played basketball in the parking lot. Our school occupied the top floor of a synagogue, and we had no gym. Thus, the basketball hoop in the parking lot. Every time I couldn’t catch the ball, it seemed to roll under one of the cars, and I had to go scrambling after it, making everyone wait for me.
Then one day, I asked my classical guitar teacher if he knew of any schools where they didn’t have gym class. He was a smart guy, an artsy guy, so I thought he might know of one. And, miracle of miracles, he did. Denver School of the Arts.
I went from a school where everyone dressed the same or got made fun of to a school where one guy wore a tux every day and no one batted an eye. Suddenly, showing your artistic flair and being different was celebrated instead of scorned. And, best of all, I was surrounded by other weird artsy people. People who cared about sharing and developing their voice. It felt like a true gift.
I’m not saying DSA was perfect. Often, our AP Chemistry teacher would play Cat Stevens on his acoustic guitar instead of teaching chemistry. It was no wonder that most kids got a 2 or less on the AP exam. And many students slacked on their classes in favor of working on their arts. But maybe that was a good thing. Because it taught me that expressing myself artistically really mattered.
Since then, I’ve had the good fortune to find other little communities to help me grow.
They always appeared just when I needed them. Like LEAPYear, the program where I built a cabin in Northern California, learned to meditate, and traveled to Central America and India.
It took me out of the traditional path of going straight from high school to college, straight from college to a job, and then staying there. Many of the people I met are doing incredible things with their lives – like Curry, who created a retreat center in Tanzania.
In Miami and the wonderful world of the internet, I’ve connected with so many creative entrepreneurs – people who care about making something new and different in the world. Creators who give time and love to things that matter to them, like blogging their truth, creating documentaries about inspiring people, and career coaching from a foundation of intuition.
These communities give me the courage to put my creativity and my voice first. And the people in my communities – from DSA to LEAPYear to The Creative Women’s Cove – the Facebook group I run with my friend Brenda – provide me with endless inspiration and conviction that what I am doing in the world truly matters.
One Sunday afternoon, I went to an Envisioning Potluck at my friend Rachel’s house.
We ate hummus and chips. We munched pumpkin muffins (made by me) and crunched cannoli and cookies. And then we sat in a circle and shared our dreams for 2017.
When it was my turn, I shared some new things that I’ve created that are really cool but that honestly seem kind of weird. Like a picture I drew of my boundaries, for example. I told them that I want to create workshops around these creative projects, to help women all over the world connect to themselves through art and writing.
After I shared, I looked around the circle, took a deep breath, and said, I hope you guys don’t think I’m crazy.
Then one of them spoke up. Can you start your workshops now? she asked.
Yeah, someone else said. We want to go to them.
Suddenly, my crazy projects, my vulnerable dreams, my big visions seemed not only possible, but inevitable.With the power of community behind you, your dreams aren't just possible - they are inevitable.Click To Tweet
As I drove home from the gathering, I listened to my favorite dance playlist on Spotify. I could see my life spread out in front of me, filled with creativity, connection, and growth.
Buoyed by the strength and power of community.