Do you even know your neighbors’ names? If you’re shaking your head at this or scratching your chin trying to remember, then you need to put on your coat and go borrow a cup of sugar in person—STAT.
There’s something romantic about the imagery of 1950s housewives residing in close-knit neighborhoods, zone parenting whoever’s children happen to be in their site, wearing aprons with their hair done and donning cute kitten heels, all while sliding a roast into the oven. Beyond the slightly bizarre connotation of Stepford Wives seemed to be a sense of community where people shared all life’s troubles while sitting on the porch.
At least, that’s how it looks from my keyboard today in 2015. I don’t have to leave this seat to communicate with anyone. I can text my next door neighbor or FaceTime my kids, even if they’re just downstairs. I have nine different online communities I can tap into with the click of my mouse. But it’s not the same as spending time with people in real life. Community is waning, and sadly a life of isolation is becoming the norm.
Remember when part of being neighbors was actually being neighborly? While I’m not interested in the kitten heels or quaffed hair, I do believe in the power of community, and here’s why it’s important to actually socialize with your neighbors:
When I moved into my new neighborhood, I started a book club for two reasons. First, I have two young boys who will inevitably be running through my neighbors’ yards, and I wanted to know they weren’t perverts, freaks, or felons. Second, I’m obsessed with old homes, architecture, and decor. So sue me I was quenching my own curiosity by encouraging them all to host said book club. This club however, introduced neighbors who had been living here for over 30 years and had never met. Now, our book club is our modern-day party line. Five years later, amazing life-long friendships have formed while we’re laughing and crying over some of the best and worst books we’ve ever read. The key being “we.” We’re doing this together. It’s powerful, and it gives our lives, even on the small scale of our neighborhood, meaning and true joy.
You can’t go at this life thing alone. That’s not how it works, or at least that’s not how it works well. Creating community, creates kindness and we can all use a reminder to remember to be kind. Seeing neighbors in person every once in a while gives you the chance to catch up and check in and more than likely commiserate on one or more of life’s woes. You never know what’s going on from the outside. This doesn’t mean every time you see a neighbor you need to engage in a thirty minute conversation. A simple hello and acknowledgment will build your network and whether or not you need it, you’ll know it’s there. This creates a sense of security, stability and extended family.
Stronger in Numbers
Whether you need a hand moving a mattress, or rallying support for a local cause or election, you’re stronger in numbers. Get to know your neighbors, and you’ll see you’re much more powerful together than you are standing alone.
In Case of Emergency
A simple introduction can change your life, and it could save it. If something dire ever happened, just knowing your neighbor could get you to work on time, let your crying dog out, or, in case of a real emergency, save your life. A simple hello can domino into significant, positive effects in your life.
It’s easier than you think and it’s never to late to be neighborly. Even if you’ve lived next door to someone for ten years, go ahead wave hello you’ll be glad you did.