Building My Tribe: The Power of Meet-Ups
As a young girl, church was a frequent staple in my life. During my early college years, I gravitated towards Hallelujah, a campus service rooted in the African-American worship-style tradition and the closest thing in Princeton that reminded me of home. We’d sing the same five songs at Hallelujah, including Hezekiah Walker’s, “I need you to survive.” The lyrics, though simple, would often provoke tears, reminding me of the undeniable power of communal affirmation.
Two weekends ago, I gathered together some new (and even newer) diabuddies for brunch at Tanner Smith’s. Though we were a small group of initial strangers, there was a palpable sense of familiarity among us. We boasted unique diagnosis stories and hailed from different boroughs, cities, and ethnic enclaves. But, we knew each other. We spilled our anxieties, medical horror stories, insurance woes, methods of treatment and tales of well-intentioned, yet misinformed loved ones. We reveled in the excitement that comes with any new diabetes-related connection.
Despite recent introductions, there was an ease that flowed throughout the conversation, an ease prompted by our shared identity as melanin-rich twenty-somethings living with type 1 diabetes. I especially was deeply encouraged by the collective wisdom and seasoned journeys of those sitting before me. Their presence affirmed mine. “Me too” and “I know, right” rang across the table in response to candid reflections on burnout. New friends shared tips on traveling abroad with diabetes and none of us passed an ounce of judgement as we ordered brunch favorites. Then, as we waited for our plates, like an orchestra on cue, we unloaded receivers, pens, pumps and meters. I, with my tendency to discreetly bolus in group settings, for once felt bold and free.
This meet-up and those present served as a personal reminder to persist and thrive in the face of diabetes. Even more, they underscored the reality that there is power in community, there is life in community. With gentle words, and nods of encouragement, we created a space that loved and affirmed our existence as T1Ds of color.
PSA: If you live in the tri-state area and are down to connect with other open-minded, young-adult T1Ds, message me!