I have friends who have joked that my real job is moving.
I’m one of the few people I know who actually enjoys the process - packing up boxes, breaking down furniture, wrapping memories up in tissue paper; nestling them safely in boxes to be re-opened in a new home somewhere as-yet undiscovered. If Yellow ever decides to write a blog about the best way to pack, I swear - no one is more qualified to write it than I am! Every time I tell my parents I have news, my mom immediately interjects with a simultaneously chagrined and amused, “You’re moving again, aren’t you?”
When 2017 began, I found myself in a familiar place. Readying myself to pack up and move my life cross-country for what felt like the millionth time,
I was inwardly alternating between the thrill of discovering a new home, and the anxiety of wondering how I would be able to rebuild my community, yet again.
As I replanted my roots as the Director of Operations at Yellow Co. and transitioned into the Yellow Collective community out of a more solitary season, my internal struggle felt ever present. All I knew was that I hoped this new opportunity would bring opportunities to build with people, instead of at a distance from them.
Now, after a year has gone by, and I get to kick off 2018 by planning a Yellow West Coast Tour, I can’t help but look back on my own experiences with independence, loneliness, community, and solitude, as I reflect on why I believe the Yellow Collective is important when it comes to building community.
My father was raised on a houseboat on the Amazon river in Brazil. He left his home and family in the 4th grade for the United States, and eventually become an international pilot. As his daughter, my upbringing was unique. Some of my earliest memories are of airports and faraway places that I was fortunate enough to explore as a child. My parents’ value of independence allowed me many unique experiences — from leaving my family to spend a summer in a remote Ecuadorian village as a 13 year old, to skipping school to join my father on spontaneous international trips, to memories of summers spent in exotic places. I grew up loving the adventures my parents’ life gave me access to. As I grew, I gravitated toward patterns that allowed me to live and work independently, even while I found myself longing for community.
My passion for travel and independence became equally matched by my passion for planting deep roots — three things which felt constantly at war.
As I went off to college, studied abroad in Europe, and moved from the Midwest, to the West Coast, to Hawaii, to Asia, to Texas, and then back to the West Coast, I began to experience the darker side to my beloved independence. Isolation, disconnection, and a sense of learned aloofness were never far away. The older I got, the more opportunities emerged to go new places, meet new people, and experience new things. By the time I was 24, I realized that my life would constantly be a balancing act of choosing when to say “yes” to going somewhere new, and when to say “yes” to staying and growing with the people and opportunities I already had in my life.
As 2017 unfolded and I had the opportunity to pursue my dream of building community within community, I was ironically pulled back into more loneliness than I had felt in my adult life as I experienced my 10th move within nine years. Perhaps it was so much harder for me this time because everything was being built at once — my friendships, my job, my daily routine. It was all being created from scratch, with no stable area to lean on when my new constructions felt shaky. All my foundations were being poured at the same time, and as I struggled to balance without falling, I found that this experience was shaking things up inside of me.
For the first time, I pursued community with intentions that weren’t healthy, but simply an avoidance tactic that allowed me to make a cross-country move without facing the inconvenient, uncomfortable phase of getting used to being alone again. It was through this process that I was reminded of a very elemental truth —
True community is crippled if it is only about me being supported and empowered by others, without me first empowering myself to know, and be, who I was created to be.
The Yellow Collective was a big part of why and how I was able to remember this, and then find the balance to start pursuing community again from a place of first being comfortable with isolation.
There have been seasons of my life where I felt loneliness was a decidedly bad thing. Now, I think that to be alive is to experience loneliness; and that reality is not one that should scare us. When loneliness is your teacher, you feel the rough edges of your own mind and soul, and you learn how to accept them and love them (because who else is there to love?). You stop being lonely because you become friends with yourself.
When people who have learned to be friends with themselves join together to form community, it’s a force to be reckoned with.
That is what I have witnessed among the Yellow Collective. I have experienced firsthand how life-giving it is when you surround yourself with women who know themselves and have befriended themselves before befriending you. They carry an awareness of what they are capable of individually, and look beyond that to what we are capable of collectively.
They don’t pursue community with each other to avoid themselves, nor as a bandaid for each others’ wounds. Rather, they bring their strength together to acknowledge the wounds that we, as humans, always have, and push forward to make something beautiful from them. They have the purpose of lifting each other up and impacting the world for good with their collective power.
As I look forward into 2018, my dream is that this community can grow to a greater depth — that more women can experience the challenge of being known, and knowing others, with the intention of impacting the world for good together. In part, my experiences with isolation over the years are woven into our intention as we prepare to take Yellow Co. on a West Coast Tour. I know how many women are grinding through their days, trying to balance their responsibilities and needs while also pursuing healthy community with kindred spirits. I know how exhausting it can be to examine our intentions to see if the desire for community comes from a healthy place. I know how hard it can be to pursue that when you’re lonely and feel at-capacity with the world.
Yellow exists to empower creative and entrepreneurially-minded women. We dream to empower all women by giving them each other as their most precious resource.
I know that this dream will be made real as we take Yellow Co. on tour, not only learning from amazing speakers during our events, but also connecting women to each other as we travel the coast. We will be kicking off the 7 pop-up conference events on February 17th in San Diego, CA, and heading to Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Denver in April and May! If you are in these areas, please join our tour and, more importantly, join a community of women who will challenge themselves, and you, to rise to a higher standard as an agent of good in the world!
For more details on the Yellow Co. tour, how to follow along our journey up the coast, and ways you can get involved, click here!
Photos by Cacá Santoro for Yellow Co.