Welcome to our holiday blog initiative: The Five Days of Ruka! Each day this week leading up to the New Year, one of us will publish a post reflecting on our time in this fellowship over the past semester. I’m up first, followed by Abbie, then Georgia, then Julia, then McKenzie! Stay tuned, lovely audience 🙂
As I reflect on my time thus far in the Ruka, I can’t help but think about the overwhelming and incredulous task we brought on ourselves this year in attempting to form a strong intentional community in just nine months. Especially as full-time (overachieving) students involved in multiple extracurriculars on and off campus. This begs the question: How much of a temporary cooperative living space can five students create while being pulled in five different directions? I don’t have the complete answer yet, but I can say that a part of the answer has to do with asking for what you need. The past semester gives the impression that we won’t have enough time to build a strong enough relationship with each other to intuitively sense what our housemates need. This is not an affront to the types of relationships we have already built because I love each one of my fellow fellows, but I believe that the reality of the situation is that we won’t truly feel so deeply involved in each others lives until the end of the academic year. That’s natural! Relationships build over time and expecting anything else would be impractical, but I did expect something else and now I am left to reevaluate my expectations in order to maximize the benefits of our next five-ish months together.
When I say that part of the answer to this question I posed has to do with asking for what we need, I recognize that this is something I need to work on. Part of the reason I wanted to join the fellowship is because I don’t have a community I readily call home. My family situation is awkward and most of my relationships in Memphis are business-oriented. Even my living situations during my college years haven’t been ones I feel comfortable calling “homey.” So finding a home-type community became a top priority for me this year. The problem is that I haven’t really defined what that type of community looks like. I know what I can give others, but I don’t know what to ask for from others or how to ask for things I realize I need. I’ve spent so long being my own emotional and physical support that I don’t know how to let others in. As an example, I’m always quick to brew a cup of tea/love for someone, but I don’t know how to ask someone to brew a cup of tea/love for me. I don’t know how to be vulnerable like that. Thinking about others and caring for others has always been my top priority and I don’t think I really learned how to ask for help myself, and I think this comes off like I don’t need help or like I can handle everything on my own. I always knew this, but my time in the Ruka has sharpened this image of myself in my mind and a goal I have for the next semester is to learn how to ask someone for comfort or love or to boil a little extra water for me and to practice this skill with the four other people I live with. I know that they will readily offer those things to me and bear with me as I try to figure that part of myself out.
The entirety of my reflection process can’t fit into one blog post, but I thought I’d give this whole “being vulnerable” thing a go and share with you the part of the fellowship I’ve struggled with the most. You can’t pour from an empty cup. This is something I saw on the interwebs and it stuck with me. The purpose of living intentionally and living in community is being aware of others/your environment and of your effect on others/the environment, but you can’t do that if you aren’t aware of what you need. I’ll also add that, as much as one may hate to admit it, it’s hard to be the only one filling your cup. It’s hard for me to admit that, but I did. Now I challenge the readers with whom this post resonates to reach out and ask for a little extra lovin’. There’s nothing wrong with that. Vulnerability isn’t for everyone. There is great strength in personal emotional regulation. I know how to do it myself, but every once in a while I’d like some help. And, hey, if you’re ever looking for a hot cup of tea, reach out to me!