by Jesse Galef –
Three weeks ago I moved from Washington, DC to Columbus, Ohio to become the new Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance! It’s been a hectic couple of months as I had to find an apartment, move, and start work. The job is great, and I joined just in time to drive back to DC to participate in the historic White House briefing visit. Everything has been happening so fast; I feel like I’m just now getting my feet.
The hardest part of moving has been leaving people. I’m remarkably bad at keeping in touch with people, so I worry about what will happen. I had to say goodbye to my girlfriend, parents, roommates, and friends. It wasn’t easy.
What’s made the process easier was the thriving atheist community here in Columbus. The Secular Student Alliance shares an office with Camp Quest and the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, and we all spend a good amount of time together outside of work. I’ve been to Central Ohioans for Rational Inquiry’s “Drinking Skeptically” night, a drinking event with Omnipresent Atheists, and meetings of OSU’s Students For Freethought (we went drinking afterward). If I hadn’t learned long ago to pace myself, my liver would be threatening legal action.
I tend to be an introvert who takes a while to warm up in social settings. But I felt welcome and comfortable walking into these groups, introducing myself, and joining them. It put me at ease to know that the people I was meeting would likely share my values and accept me for who I am. A thought struck me: This must be what it feels like to have community through church. Now we atheists are providing it for each other. It makes me proud of our movement.
I’m not going to isolate myself in the atheist world – I have other interests. So far, I found a group of students who play pickup games of roller hockey and I’m looking into the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society. But having the atheist/skeptical/humanist community here has really made me worry less about fitting in and meeting people here in Ohio.
Of course, my story isn’t unique. We’ve heard countless similar stories from people who were thrilled to find group in their area for the first time. I’ve just never experienced it so personally, and it gave me an appreciation for what we’re doing. Keep up the good work, people!