I was asked the other day by a friend when the last time I cried was. It was a curious question. They asked that question while we were sharing a meal at dinner. I wasn’t scared by the question and the vulnerability of it. I tend to be honest with my emotions. In all honesty, I cried that very morning.
I’ve cried many times over the past year and a half. The Covid-19 pandemic has stolen so much time and opportunity.
Here is a brief and incomplete list of the things I have cried about this year:
When Covid-19 shut down the world on March 11th, 2020
The night I moved back in with my parents at 22
Because a dog kissed me on a walk
The time my boyfriend broke up with me on the day I was supposed to graduate
When my plant produced a new leaf for the first time in over a year
When I returned the question their way, they said the last time they cried was over a year ago. It was when their grandmother passed away due to Covid-19. Before that, they hadn’t shed a tear in years.
We then went on to talk about what the act of crying means to us. I like to think that we were both surprised by each other's responses.
As I start to think about what I want to accomplish with my senior thesis, I keep coming back to creating a sense of community and a space for vulnerability. In my past blogs, I have asked questions about how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed us and the sharing of stories. Together they start to form a theme of building a community.
Some people I have been looking to for inspiration include Priya Parker, Kevin Hyunh, Kio Stark, and Misha Glouberman. All 4 of these individuals have published books on the topics of gatherings and community, and I’ve even had the opportunity and pleasure of talking with two of them personally (Kevin and Misha).
Some tips for bringing people together by the 4 authors:
“YOU ARE THE BOSS. Hosting is not democratic, just like design isn’t. Structure helps good parties, like restrictions help good design. Introduce people to each other A LOT. But take your time with it. Be generous. Very generous with food, wine, and with compliments/ introductions.”
- Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters
“To spark your community, you got people together and helped them start talking. Stay with it! The missing ingredient in many would-be communities is dedication. We put on one-off events or annual fundraisers, but we don’t give potential community members the chance to keep showing up or to raise their hands to take on responsibilities.”
― Kevin Huynh and Bailey Richardson, Get Together: How to build a community with your people
“We communicate emotionally with our partners because we are close to them, we seek to understand and be understood. But we also rely on a "closeness bias." We assume our partners already know what we mean, that they can read our minds a little, and we want that. We may communicate emotionally more fluidly with strangers because we don't assume they already know what we mean.”