About seven years after I started college, I found the results of some random freshman assessment I had to take. It was one of those things that was required in your typical freshman welcoming class. You know, where you had to block out about 45 minutes of an otherwise nice and free afternoon just to click some bubbles on a computerized multiple choice.
I guess it was because of that fact that I forgot the test ever happened. Maybe I was bitter about having an afternoon thrown off, because I’m sure that it was a perfectly lovely afternoon where all my friends were receiving free money or something and I was stuck testing. Whatever the reasoning might have been, I had forgotten that test ever happened when I found the results from it seven years later.
There’s something about finding something like that which is fascinating. Assessments like that, or personality tests or anything along those lines, give such great insight, but looking back over them after more life experience gives a different perspective. A new view of things you already knew. Sure, I know I am an ENFP, but there’s a whole new perspective to have when I see it in light of how life has gone since taking the tests.
In any case, this particular assessment made me laugh, because it rated the things I was good at and cared about. All of my skills were listed on a scale from 1-100, which most of my prominent interests/skills ranking around the high 70’s. However, one skill sat above all else; well into the 90’s.
Now, you have to understand why this made me laugh. I spent my four years of college building relationships and making stupid videos and playing intramural sports. I worked jobs where I helped guests at a conference center, was a producer for broadcasts that were sent to a satellite in the only satellite uplink in the state of Mississippi, and running the night shift at a local radio station. Basically, I didn’t bother doing anything involving writing. Now that I’ve spent so much time writing and fallen in love with it, I just have no choice but to think it’s funny that I did that. Or that I put writing on the back burner for the past few months while trying to focus on other things.
Basically, I’ve done it all wrong.
You’re probably wondering why I’m even bringing all this up. Well, obviously, I’m trying to say that I plan on writing more again, now that some of the hecticness of the past few months has slowed down. I’m looking forward to jumping back into such a fantastic medium.
But that’s not all I’m trying to say. For several years, I forgot one major thing that I was good at and loved deeply. Not that I wasn’t good at making stupid videos (or podcasts) or building relationships. I really just feel like we often, while trying to have the best intentions, still do it all wrong.
I love community deeply. In fact, I’ve poured a lot of effort into trying to understand the concept. The fact of the matter is, we often get it all wrong.
It’s like this: it’s common for somebody to find somebody else with the same interest and become friends. Let’s say you enjoy rock climbing and find a group of people who love rock climbing and you all become friends. That’s great, but let’s be honest: your friendship is all about rock climbing, and therefore it is an inward focused friendship. It’s a clique, not a genuine community.
However, let’s say you like sports but you meet a classically trained guitarist. It takes more work to become friends, probably, but because of your differences, it broadens your view point and it’s a totally different bond. It’s now outwardly focused, because you hang out with this person not because they match up with your interests, but because you’re interested in them.
That’s community. It is a group of people who are outwardly focused, thinking more about each other and the people around them than just themselves and their own interests. Outward, not inward.
I’m only saying any of this because I feel like it’s what we end up doing with blogging or podcasting or any of that stuff. The internet is huge and powerful and can be SUCH a tool for building community, but we do nothing with it. We write stuff and self-promote the crap out of it and we really have no message other than “HEY EVERYBODY LOOK AT ME”. We do it all wrong.
I don’t want to be about that. I want you to feel like you can actually connect with me, not just listen to a podcast or read a rambling blog post. I want you to feel welcome to write guests posts if you want to just because I want this page to be more outwardly focused than anything else.
So that’s all I’m trying to say. I know this post seemed to lack direction, but I would rather post something honest about something I’m thinking about than carefully work on some insightful prose every time. Not every post is going to be Shakespearean.
But I’m going to write more. And I’m going to focus on community. Because I want to do it right whenever I can.