In 2009, I started an e-commerce company. I had no expectations at the time, but with lots of luck and hard work the business grew quickly. Soon we had several offices all over the world. Inc. Magazine ranked the company the 125th Fastest Growing Company in America and the 4th Fastest Woman-Led Company in America.
But I didn't feel great. Something was missing. Around that time, I heard one of my favorite authors, Esther Perel, speak about how thousands of years ago, we had a community that helped fulfill our needs. We had fun with certain people, took advice from others, raised kids among a group, and had sex with someone. Over time, that changed. We gathered up all our needs and dropped them on the shoulders of one person: our romantic partner. This setup, Perel explained, has led us to sometimes feel dissatisfied and has sometimes driven us to affairs.
As a problem-solver, I wanted to avoid fantasizing about a soulmate who would meet all my needs. Instead, I wanted to create a community. One problem: I didn’t know how to do that. I wondered whether community was the stuff of villages and sitcoms or if everyone else felt deeply connected to their Instagram followers.
In an effort to understand why we feel distant, I began researching and writing. I talked to sociologists, psychologists, biologists, government workers, educators. I read about the impending doom of the loneliness epidemic in America and the health consequences of it.
After much research, though, I found a more hopeful voice—one that I’d like to share with you.