One lesson I have been learning is how important it is to have people in my life who love, support, and encourage me to be the best version of myself.
I’ve done a lot of healing, learning, and growing in the last year. I learned about myself, the world, who I want to be, who I’ve been. A huge part of becoming the person I want to be is surrounding myself with people who inspire me to take better care of myself and to lead with compassion.
This is most certainly easier said than done. It can feel hopeless at times trying to find people who make you feel better when the world tries to bring you down. Over and over again though, the universe delivers me loving, caring, and kind people, so long as I myself am loving, caring, and kind first, both to myself and others.
I think the interesting part of this process is how our online community has started to bleed into our real life community. Social media complicates things at times, and it definitely has the capacity to disconnect us from our friends and peers as we slip into the habits of seeing what our friends are doing rather than asking, and assuming things about people from the surface level interactions we have online.
Oppositely, though, social media totally has the power to bring us closer together. To unite us in profound ways with people we would have never known otherwise, and to keep us in contact with people from our “real lives” we aren’t able to be physically close to.
In the last year, I moved away from my hometown and to L.A., and now I split time between there and Hawaii. With all the new change in my life it was hard to be away from my best friend, Elizabeth (Liz). We grew up together and she is truly like another sister (even coming along on our family vacations). Right around the same time I was moving away, she was going to college. It’s weird because I thought we would be having these experiences together, but we have taken different paths. Interestingly enough, though, I’ve never felt closer to her. We talk everyday, and seeing her photos on Instagram makes me feel like I’m there at college with her, cheering her on and watching her do her thing. I know she feels the same way about me, and it’s made our relationship even stronger.
Jaden Barba is also one of my best friends. We met in middle school through dance and have really similar paths right now. He lives in L.A. too and I love that we go to dance class together, meet up for coffee, and hang out when both of us are able to. He is one of my “safe” places because I know he will always be there, just like I will for him.
My friends Chelsea and Ashley (sisters) are also from home, and even though we don’t talk everyday, being able to check in with them at the touch of a finger or see what they’re doing online makes me feel connected to them, and also reminds me what a strong bond we have. At my darkest hour, Chelsea texted me every day to check in and say, “I love you.” Even though I didn’t reply, she kept checking in daily without fail. For weeks. That’s what friendship is. And though we may not talk all the time, when we do it’s like no time has passed at all and thanks to social media, I feel like I have a window into what they’re doing out in the big wide world without me.
Social media has also brought people into my life I never would have connected with otherwise. I met my friends Summer Mckeen and Sommer Ray via instagram, and my friend and mentor Ashley Graham via YouTube, and all of them have turned out to be such light-filled presents in my life. My presence online also introduced me to my photographer and friend Ivana Cook who has become like a sister to me and wrapped me up in her community of friends. Social media, though sometimes toxic, has also gifted me with so many people who understand what I am going through and support me unconditionally.
So what’s the secret to building a strong community of people you can count on? Be someone who can be counted on. Be loyal. Be open, and let the universe deliver. Go out into the world, both online and off, as your most authentic self and allow people to feel whatever they feel about you. If they don’t love you, they’re not your people. If they do? Congratulations, you’ve found your community. It may take some trial and error, but you’ll get there.
Above all else, remember that you are always releasing and absorbing the energy of those around you, so make sure to only take in and put out what serves you and others best! Hope this helps. Now I’m off to the airport to pick up Liz, Chelsea and Ashley…they’re coming to stay with me for a few days in Hawaii and I am so excited! <3