56 minutes | Feb 23, 2023

Formal Communities, from the Military to Toastmasters

I am not from a military family. So to me, deployment sounds terrifying.

Think about it: you’re moving to a place where you don’t know anyone. If you’re part of a couple, one person is going to be alone a LOT.

But that wasn’t the experience for my friend Laura, who in this episode describes what it was like moving to Spain with a toddler and baby for her husband’s deployment in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Upon her arrival, Laura was immediately enveloped in a warm welcome and greeted by a list of contacts and invitations to numerous events, get-togethers, and clubs. Throughout her husband’s many deployments, she learned this was the normal welcome for military families.

The military is essentially a formal community. Participation in formal communities has dwindled over the years, but I think there’s major appeal to them. When you join these groups, you’re not only eased into meeting other people, but you also take on a sense of belonging to the group. I think it breaks down a lot of western beliefs about support systems.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Individuals getting over social barriers vs. people in the community taking on the responsibility to reach out
  • What constitutes a formal community – rules, structure, organization – and the importance of a common bond within them
  • Downsides of expecting reciprocity in friendship, and instead, thinking of what we do for each other as nourishment
  • Going into new friendships curious instead of via structured paths, and how to get past hierarchy in formal communities
  • The disappointment that will come from expecting one friend to be your EVERYTHING when you’re a grown-up
  • How scarcity can create more awareness of the importance of time well-spent

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