[Taunya is a registered nurse, an author, and a mother to three children. This post is an excerpt from a non-fiction text Taunya is working on periodically entitled From Me to You: A Mother’s Legacy to Her Daughters. Find her author page at facebook.com/authorTSW]
Living in a community is not just about you. It is also about those around you. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary community is defined as a body of people living in the same place under the same laws (2004). Think about the neighborhood in which you live. Do you find a grocery store nearby, a library or a gas station? These structures are also part of your community. Your success is inextricably tied to your ability to engage with people and navigate the institutions in your community.
1. Follow the Rules
When I think about the rules, three things come to mind immediately: driver license, insurance, and littering. I am sure I can think of more but let’s do our checks here first. In order to operate a vehicle a driver’s license is required. It is up to you to renew it at the time it is due, not after. This prevents the extra fees and fines that result from being caught without you license. Resist the temptation to blame the police for “picking on you.” Take care of your license. Prevent the confrontation.
It is also important to keep some type of insurance on the vehicle you are operating. If you get into an accident, you will be sued and will have to pay a judgment. It does not pay to let your insurance lapse. I am talking about moving forward not backwards. Take the time to explore “minimum coverage” or other low cost plans. Figure out how you will get coverage, or ride public transportation until you can get the money together. It will be worth it in the long run.
The signs are posted in different spots throughout your community. They say “DO NOT LITTER,” yet how much trash do you see lying around? Okay maybe this is not important to you, but when I decide to take a walk in my neighborhood, I appreciate it when I can step without trash in the street or sidewalk. Once again, if caught, you could pay a fine, but also remember that you live in a community with other people. Everyone is responsible to keep it clean. Why would you set yourself up to pay a fine that you do not have the money to cover? Why would you vandalize the place you live with trash? That’s not smart!
2. Know what resources are in your Community
Knowledge of the resources in your community gives you options. The library is full of books of all sorts. Not only that, the library hosts other activities for kids and adults. Check out their monthly schedule. Many of the events are free of charge.
Community centers or recreation parks may offer swimming and space to exercise or play sports. What about walk-in clinics, Goodwill or schools? These places are good to have near when you are in crises or just need some support. Find out what they offer and how you can take advantage of it.
Allow me to emphasize this point. Having resources around you that you know, you trust, and can take part in keeps you honest. It keeps you from depending on people that bring you down, charge a high personal price, or who have ulterior motives for assisting you. These will only keep you from moving forward and succeeding.
3. Take ownership
You can take ownership for the community you live in by getting involved. Take some time to visit the places around you and see what efforts are underway. Think about how you can help. Consider what you have to offer.
Take a look at your residence. Is it acceptable to you? If not, what can you do to gain a sense of respect for where you live? Even if you rent, consider what you can do to enhance your surroundings. The idea is to build confidence where you are and stay on the path to positive outcomes. When you take ownership, you set the trend for others to do the same.