People in Community

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Apparently, my spot on the introversion-extroversion scale shifted back toward introversion during the pandemic. Between that and the fact that I had let my TSA-Pre status lapse since I wasn’t flying anywhere, meant that I was a bit unprepared for my trip this week. In fact I whined about it a bit (or more than a bit). Luckily, my plane trip was smooth and the reason for my trip, the annual conference of NASPA -Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, has been a wonderful reunion. Hugs, laughter, and good conversation have filled my time since I landed in Baltimore on Sunday.

Robert Fulgham explains why as he writes about professional organizations and conferences:
‘We associate with the people like us to affirm ourselves. We come for people reasons, not professional reasons. Loneliness is one great burden of being a solitary human being. To spend time in the company of others who have our concerns, values, interests, beliefs, or occupation is to get confirmation of who we are — to feel connected to a larger image of ourselves….

“We go to get new ideas, new energy, confirmation of who we are and what we do. This is recreation. A serious word – re-creation – a re-newal of self. If a convention is truly successful, this is what happened to you.

“When it works well, this is reunion – coming together in convention. The rite of self-affirmation by association – being with people like us. The ritual of relevance – of belonging to a community of significance.”

I don’t know what the right answer is about the questions we are asking now about workplace flexibility. As someone who has worked from home for almost six years now, I know all the advantages and I enjoy them. But I also miss leading a team, being part of a team, and the chitchat in the hallway to catch up with colleagues. And, as much as my introverted side tried to convince me to hide out this week I’m glad I didn’t. It’s been wonderful to see everyone. It’s an important reminder that most humans benefit, even need to be, in community. As we try to develop new ways of working while at the same time meeting the needs of the people we serve, one element to consider is the role community plays in our lives and our organizations, and for ourselves. Where are you finding the community you need?

Take care,



  1. Justin on March 31, 2022 at 11:53 am

    It was good to see you at NASPA, Dr. Paine! I agree that it is a space where we can affirm others and ourselves.

    • Gage Paine on April 1, 2022 at 6:06 pm

      Great to see you as well! Take care.

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