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Dictionary.com defines Community as, “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists” I suppose that is true, I mean the definition looks great on paper. However, a community can be formed on anything, from religion, to sexuality, to mutual interest. In my sixteen years on this earth, I have found myself hurdled into many different communities because of such characteristics.
A good example of this was BBYO, an organization for jewish teens that spans across America. In eighth grade I went to a couple of meetings in my local branch. I was surrounded by high school age brunettes who all wore crop tops and spoke with valley girl accents. Girls with their noses in their phones and talking about people whom I didn’t know. They weren’t mean, BBYO is a great organization, (so I’ve been told), I just didn’t fit. I also didn’t fit into NIFTY, the other regional organization of Jewish youth. The only things we had in common were our religion, hair color, and class.
I faced the same issues when I later tried to join my high school’s women’s group and Gay Straight Alliance. When I was a freshman, it was never an option not to join a women’s club if one existed in the vicinity. I was proud feminist, unafraid to express my opinion, completely unaware that I was spewing propaganda but that’s another story. The other girls in there were all upperclassman, the pretty and slightly insane kind with boyfriends, wild parties with no losers allowed, and parents that just generally left them alone.
Hearing them talk so dramatically about the issues they faced as women, especially regarding sexual stuff, made me feel as if I was doing something wrong. Nobody there had ever walked in a room and not known what to say, or had to literally be taught how to interact with other people. it is not that we didn’t have the same crippling insecurities, I did not know them well enough to make such a presumption, but the lives we lead were very different, and so were their values. The only things that we had in common were our gender and the fact that we all went to the same school.
Gay Straight Alliance wasn’t much better, I joined because I was 14 and confused about my sexuality, once both of things became untrue, the group began to make me feel even more alone than I already felt at the time. These people THRIVED on drama, and some of them seemed to have nothing to their personalities, other than their genders or sexual orientations. I had NOTHING in common with these people, except that we all went to the same school. Both clubs in my school had a victim mentality that to this day makes me want to throw things when I come across it.
All these clubs were communities, they were all gatherings of people that shared a commonality. So why do I feel more comfortable outside of them?