Why community matters

A reflection through my life

School: the place we spend the majority of our pre adult lives. A place of learning but also a place of community. I’ve often heard that high school is the best time of your life. I remember not believing this while I was still there: having to get up early, completing class work and then homework, assignments. Nothing about that screamed “best time of my life”. However, looking back now, it was more about the friendships and sense of community formed over those years. Seeing your friends every day, sharing stories about your weekend, having fun with them during the school holidays. Those are things you cannot replace.

Life changes quite drastically once you finish school. Some people go off to start working, others learn a trade, and some go to university. I started a computer science degree at UTS in 2012 just after finishing high-school, and I was the only one in my friend group going off to do this course, let alone the same university. Life quickly gets busy with classes and assessments, everyone having different timetables, and seeing those friends becomes more difficult. While I studied, I tended to keep to myself and very much didn’t want to get involved with extra activities offered, especially not social ones. By doing this however, I was robbing myself of a vital part of life which I had lived all through my schooling: community. I was isolating myself from the world and it had a negative impact on me.

After a few failed attempts at computer science at two different institutions, I eventually moved onto the field of psychology at ACU. This time however, I decided to make a change. Getting involved on campus, volunteering, joining social events. This time I was making new friendships, becoming part of a new community. It made my university experience so much more enjoyable compared to my earlier attempts. We are not made to be solitary, but we are made for community.

As COVID-19 has impacted our lives these last few years, it has greatly affected our sense community. Many people have become more isolated: whether because of lockdowns or due to a loss of confidence in their ability to socialise. As life is becoming more ‘normal’ again, it’s important that we make sure we reconnect with the communities we belong to. Whether that be church, sporting teams, or other hobby groups we were once involved in: let’s find our community and live life to the full!

Biography: Paolo Grella is the Campus Pastoral Associate for Students on the North Sydney Campus. If he isn’t walking around with a guitar and singing songs, you might find him trying to climb something thanks to his keen interest in bouldering. While he enjoys keeping fit and healthy, he won’t say no to some nice bread with Nutella!

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