Your Village

As a mother of two small children, I know this saying to be true:

It takes a village to raise a child.

Though our modern, western society is far removed from the villages where this saying originated, the sentiment remains relevant.

Your “village” may not be a literal group of homes, but rather any social, occupational, familial, religious or other group sharing common goals and interests.  It’s also commonly known as your squad, tribe, fam, or pack.  In the case of my children, our village includes the family, friends and many other members of this community who help us on our path.  Through this village, I am supported, motivated and constantly learning to be a better parent and my sons’ relationships and lived experiences are forever enriched.

We are all born with an incredible ability to learn throughout our lifespan.  The moment when one has been raised from “child” to “adult” varies across culture & time and is still always relative to the person standing next to you.  Because our learning never stops, our village raises so much more than just children – it raises all people.   We are constantly raising each other. Or as Ram Dass says,

We are all just walking each other home.

From time to time we all experience feelings of scarcity, inadequacy, and insecurity.

Sometimes I’m not sharp enough, disciplined enough, or productive enough. I haven’t achieved enough with my life.  I don’t get enough sleep, exercise or vegetables.  I don’t spend enough quality time with my kids, my friends, or myself.  I don’t make enough money and I don’t have enough time.  I don’t do assessment effectively enough.  I don’t write enough blog posts.  I don’t know what I’m doing enough of the time and I’m afraid I’m just making it up as a I go.  Why does everyone else seem to have it all figured out?

Though these types of thoughts are completely normal, they will never get us any closer to home and they’ll only make our walk less pleasant.

There is a reason why we establish our villages.  Our species evolved within social groupings, and one of our greatest adaptations for survival is our ability to empathize with others.  We build each other up because we are stronger together.  There is no such thing as a truly self-made man.  We all have different strengths and will forever depend on each other to share them in order to accomplish our goals.

Punishing, defending, or hiding ourselves for our shortcomings is a big waste of energy and time.  Believe me, I’ve tried all three.  I still try them sometimes, but I’m also trying to practice acceptance, and turning my thoughts to the villages in my life.

For your every sense of scarcity, there is someone in your village who can help you meet your needs (or maybe help you see that some are just wants.)

For your every feeling of inadequacy, there is someone in your village who can help you learn to do better (or help you realize that you’re actually doing just fine as you are.)

For your every insecurity, there is someone in your village who wishes they had it all together like you do (Yes, you.)

But before you can tap into that resource, you have to accept that you are imperfect like the rest of us.  You have to be willing to reach out.

These are things we all wish more students understood – that it’s ok to not be born a great writer.  It’s ok to struggle with statistics. It’s ok to have no idea how to write a lab report, or to leave the occasional major assignment to the last minute.  It’s ok to change your mind about what you want, or to have no idea what you want at all.  It’s even ok to fail.

Ok doesn’t mean free from consequences. It just means our walk continues.  

It means you still have the opportunity to evaluate whether those things are standing between where you are and where you want to be.  It means you have the choice to accept yourself for who you are, warts and all, and move forward.   And if you want to do better, it means you have to ask questions, seek help, and try again.  Or, as my grandmother once said to me (for real):

Just say ‘Balls to that!’ and find a way through it.

Balance is a unicorn.  No one really has it all together.  If you did, you wouldn’t need us anymore, and then we’d miss out on your gifts too.  Let your village know that you need them and appreciate them.  Don’t just tell them, but show them that it’s ok to have flaws by forgiving yourself for your own.
Without ever being good enough at everything, you will always have plenty to learn and plenty to share.