Community tempo

I want to do right by you

Hi seeker! I’m Oana, the gal in charge of the Upstairs Community. I was wrong about our relationship, and I want to make it right. Bear with me to find out how I messed up and how I felt when I acknowledged it.



A few weeks back, I wrote you an email about three ways to contribute to our one-year anniversary, but I failed to facilitate connection and belongingness in a meaningful manner.

I want to restart the conversation and work hard alongside my teammates to make progress and create a proper community.

Until then, we’d like to reward you for helping us get this far. Send us your physical address via a reply to this email, and we’ll send you a book with all the stories written until now.

A bit of context

If a year ago, you would have asked me when will I enjoy my next vacation, I would have most probably raised my eyebrows. Everything was so uncertain, messy, and full of contradicting feelings. And yet, I recently took two weeks off and made the most out of them. I spent time with my parents, something I genuinely missed, and I discovered a corner of Heaven in Bukovina, Romania.

These experiences filled my energy tanks and opened my eyes and heart in many senses. One of them is related to the Upstairs Community.

Almost a month ago, I wrote you an email about how we would like to celebrate our anniversary within this community. Yes, you read it well: we would like. Not you, but we.

I got caught in the excitement of celebrating one year since we started this endeavor and forgot the obvious: we’re not quite a community yet. While we behave like we’re nurturing it, it does not mean that the reality matches.

It’s common to think of ourselves in a certain way. Most of us like to believe we are the good guys wearing masks, respecting the rules, and keeping other people safe, but let’s admit that we also cut corners. Most of us believe we’re always kind to our teammates, families, and communities, but we have plenty of broken relationships and judge others a lot.

We look in the mirror and keep saying things to ourselves, but most probably, we’re amplifying an image that’s not accurate.

We’re not doing it because we’re mean or delusional, but because we’re full of biases. The image we project is different than what’s happening in the tranches. That’s why we live in between worlds.

I, too, have fallen into this trap. I wrote you an email about three ways in which you could contribute to our anniversary. I did not facilitate connection and belongingness in a meaningful manner.

This approach was, at best, premature. The truth is that we’re not there in our journey. We don’t have a relationship in the first place. It’s more one-talking-to-many (us to you) than many-talking-to-many (members to other members). We jumped some phases, and that’s not okay for a community. It’s pretty damaging. We cannot shortcut liaisons. Neither can we nurture bonds without reciprocity.

It’s a harsh lesson for me, a community builder with ten years of experience under my belt. It feels like I’m not good enough.

While this internal demon still has an echo, I believe that this endeavor helps me become a better professional. As Adam Grant, the author of Think Again, beautifully puts it: “If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”

Often, we behave like reality paints a specific picture, but sometimes we find out that it’s not true and that we’re off the radar. The choice we make when we realize that says a lot about our set of values.

Allow me to restart the conversation

Would you like to receive a small gift from us to mark the one-year anniversary of Upstairs in July 2021? It’s a book with all the stories written until now. Consider it a gesture that expresses gratitude towards all the contributors who shared a story that speaks their truth and impacts their becoming and the readers who took the time to learn from other people’s experiences.

Now it’s your turn, not ours. If you’d like to receive it, if you’d like to reread the narratives on your sofa, if you’d like to have this memory, please reply to this email and write your psychical address. We’ll take care of the rest.

Meanwhile, Andrei and I, the fellows on the front line, are working hard to make progress and create a proper community. One that we know we can nurture and where people belong because they are members, not readers.

Take time off and admit when you’re wrong. It’s liberating.

Forever grateful,
— Oana