Chief Editors Note: It takes a village
For the previous issue of BTSB I wrote an article, which canvassed some of the difficulties of working solo (you can find the full article here). Since then I’ve had some emotional encounters that really hit home the importance that belonging to a community, and feeling like you’re a part of something has for us humans. Time and time again the same theme seemed to play the leading role in these stories of human fate – how despite the wonderful things that these people were doing with their lives, they couldn’t feel a sense of satisfaction. Why?
Many of us wouldn’t necessarily say we are lonely. We have friends, colleagues, family… But loneliness isn’t about how connected you are or how many people you know or how many things you participate in. The real question comes down to whether you feel supported or not. In fact, according to recent research, for your well-being strengthening the connections you have with your community is a more important factor than actively pursuing any other type of self-improvement that could benefit your well-being and health. This is also why the people I had some deep heart-to-hearts with hadn’t been able to enjoy the life they had, despite amazing accomplishments or wonderful material things in their life – without the support of having a community to share those accomplishments, pains and heart-aches with those things lost a big part of their value.
It ‘takes a village to raise a child’, but what about now when there are no villages in modern society? In my grandmother’s stories of childhood cousins and friends flit through the doors like parts on a conveyor belt, and everyone knows everyone. Where do we find our own villages - who supports us now? To make the issue harder to tackle, our brains also have a tendency to make loneliness spiral out of control – starting with a retreat into self-preservation mode, which in turn makes us engage less, feeding the relentless cycle of loneliness in a never-ending loop. And the only way to cut loose is to be aware of it. People need people. The only ones who can build the communities we need are us ourselves.
They say that loneliness doesn’t discriminate, but for sure there is a strong millennial (to younger generations) immediacy to it. In Britain, it was found that the loneliest demographic was adults aged between 16 and 24, surpassing those aged over 75 by almost double the amount of people reporting to feel lonely “often” or “very often”. And my interest in this topic doesn’t arise from a place of observation, but from a place of experience. I myself have struggled like many my age to build communities around my life.
University and academic life provides one such strong community, a community that we have a chance to strengthen as much as we want. In fact, it has been found in recent medical research that stronger social ties may reduce the risk of mortality – so to put it extremely, one could even argue as a matter of life or death, it is our responsibility to strive to strengthen our communities (this one and all the others we participate in) together, for the well-being of all of us.
Our little community of BTSB has yet again put together a wonderful issue of the things that move us. Elina writes about the combination of four things she absolutely loves, but which turned out to be anything but what she was hoping for in her “Love Letter to Unoriginality”. Danielle puts a twist on a classic fairytale to retell the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Jenni once again verses lines of haunting prose to satisfy your poetry craving. Meanwhile for those of you hoping to find the sleeping horticulturist inside of you, Eveliina the Plant Killer offers you an account that gives hope to the worst of us non-green thumbs.
It takes a village to create such wonderful content, we hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget that you can also become a supportive part of our community by subscribing to our mailing list - you’ll stay up to date with new issues and content!