Your twenties can be a tumultuous segment of your life. From school, to relationships, to work, goals, plans and desires, trying to find things to hold on to can be difficult. I think for a lot of us here at Atangard, the idea of living in community comes with the hope that we will have something to hold on to: friends, a place, a home. It is what attracts many here, and also what keeps people here much longer than they anticipated. No matter how often a housemate is away, unable to participate in the group, or unavailable, the things that always keep them here are the warm, encouraging people living in the other rooms. It’s why it’s so difficult to see people move on, seeing life pull them away from something they want.
This year has been one of many changes here at Atangard. Almost all the faces have changed since the project started four years ago. Even for someone who, in the greater context, hasn’t lived here very long, I’ve seen an almost complete turn-over of residents. Since moving in a year-and-a-half ago, there are seventeen new faces. Six people remain from that time, only two of which are from the original group that moved in in 2009. And that excludes those who came and went while I lived here. We are a shining example of the transience of our generation.
This is not unique to Atangard. Whether through graduating from college, moving cities to start careers, or forming relationships that pull us from our hometowns, people our age end up moving around a lot. A well known preacher and speaker commented on this recently, saying that our generation desires community, but is unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to create it. I think that although some truth can be found in that, it is not that we are unwilling to make the sacrifices. We are often forced, through no fault of our own, to sacrifice community for the opportunities presented to us. Especially for those with post-secondary degrees, who are looking to begin careers in the fields of their studies, it can be very difficult to find meaningful work. Growing up in our culture, so many of us were encouraged to go to college or university, that now the job-market is over-crowded with BA’s. Almost any given job now requires years of experience, that can only be found in the very jobs that are asking for it. In order to find work in our disciplines, we chase opportunities, which often pull us away from our social groups, whether that be family, friends, churches or others. To not work for minimum wage or wait tables, post-grads must either jump deeper into dept for masters degrees or move to where the jobs are. Both options tend to strip people from their communities. The millenial’s sacrifice of community is less of a choice and more often a necessity for survival in our culture.
For someone who believes in committing to a community, I can have trouble not taking it personally when people decide to sacrifice it for the opportunities being presented to them. I need to consciously step back and realize that some day I may need to do the same thing, and that their need to find their own place in society does not necessarily reflect on their ability to commit to the here and now. Their need to follow their life-goals does not mean they have commitment issues. It is possible to love something and let it go.