In every new place I’ve lived, I’ve found communities to join with people that became my friends, many of whom helped define the part of my life I shared with them. It started as a child in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. In college, it was the other journalists at The Maneater, our student newspaper. In Florida, I got involved with the poetry community.
These groups provided the ideals, objectives, and interests that I wanted to share with others. They were also a source of personal development and a support structure for me to rely on and contribute to.
This has always been how I moved through my life, but I started thinking more deliberately about it after reading an article about brotherhood on The Art of Manliness(though I think it applies to any fellowship, too). It drew attention to how I have defined myself in the past, and how I’ve been failing to define myself since I moved to Elk Grove Village a year ago.
So I found my new identity. It’s not a new commitment for me, but rather a renewed involvement in an organization that’s always been on the back burner — the Optimist Club. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a service organization with the motto, “Friend of Youth.” I’ve been a member in Silvis since I was 18, though I’ve been around it since I was very young. My parents are both longtime members who are also active in the state and international organizations, and I’ve attended conferences with them many times.
But now, it’s different for me. Joining the Des Plaines Optimist Club isn’t just another thing I want to do, I want it to be my primary focus outside of work. It gives me a chance to volunteer in my community, something that’s been missing in my life for the last few years. But it also gives me a great Creed to follow, a program for self development, and a great way to meet people in my community.
It gives me a sense of belonging and the chance to feel like this place is my new home.