finding your tribe
i mean, friendships can be formed anywhere (that is something i have definitely learned in the last year) but virtual meetings, texting, google chatting and emails can really only give me a little of what i want out of a friendship.
i want to spend evenings telling stories over a
since the chances of getting to go to a conference rely solely on me getting a ticket to one as a birthday gift from my dad (*hint hint*), i have had to learn to experience that type of relationship over the computer. which isn't ideal for me but it is better than nothing at all.
i realize it is starting to sound a little peevey with the intimate closeness talk and stuff but i'm trusting that you get what i'm saying. we aren't talking about you know "the-s-word-intimate". i'm talking about that rare bond that women share where we cry and laugh and get pissed off all within 10 seconds and do that omg-scream-cry-hug-aaaaahhhh thing when we meet. do ya get what i'm sayin here?
and- this isn't to say that i feel empty and depressed all the time. trust me - i have plenty to do to keep me busy and i don't dwell on the fact that i'm no longer surrounded by my close pact of friends from home. and neither am i trying to replace them - those kinds of friends never go anywhere no matter the distance and are truly irreplaceable. but what i am trying to do is find my tribe.
i never really thought of my circle of online friends as a tribe until it became the trendy term to use when referring to blogging circles. it isn't as restricting as a "niche" but definitely sets a few parameters that keep everyone at least sharing the same interests.
i have to say i feel truly lucky that somehow, by the grace of God, i have fallen into a sort of tribe. i happened upon a comment on gussy sews from a girl named kasey. whatever she said i really identified with so i replied to it, clicked over to her blog and shop and tweeted about one of her adorable products. within a week after that we had emailed back and forth, texted, and skyped to discuss the possibility of bringing together a group of girls to chat about blogging, handmade businesses, and being an online presence in general.
and boom - there was my tribe.
so, no matter how many times we meet and how close we all become, it will never truly fulfill every single need my soul has in terms of friendship. but, in some ways, it completes little parts of my heart that were left empty by my in real life friends and family. being a blogger and being part of this "world" is really hard to describe to those who don't do it with you. can i get an amen??
anyways - for those of you who might be starting out on a blog or have been blogging for a while and are still looking to fit in with a group of people, or heck, even veteran bloggers who would like to gather some newbies under you wings, i want to talk a little about finding your tribe!
disclaimer: for the purpose of this post, a tribe is a group of like-minded people that you can identify with on a personal and/or professional level. it has nothing to do with blog genre or niche, whether or not you have a shop, level of expertise, age, sex, race or anything like that. tribes aren't meant to discriminate in any way - they are to bring people together.
all of the ladies in our little meet up group (which has yet to adopt a name) chatting in a google + hangout.
clearly this is the easiest and most direct way to find a tribe. like i said, i'm really wishing i could go to one this year (and seriously just keeping my fingers crossed in die-hard expectation) just so i could meet a few gals. sit face to face with some folks to chat about things they will definitely understand about blogging. there are tons of conferences to choose from all varying themes and purposes. but one thing i think they all have in common is that you don't have to try to fit into the theme of the conference to enjoy it. for instance, the one conference i'd really like to attend is haven conference. it is a home blogger conference. am i a home blogger? not really. do i care? no. i just want to go to have a good time and meet some people!
here are a few others - most of which i'm sure you have at least heard of:
allume (previously relevant)
bloggy boot camp
this is seriously the short list and doesn't begin to include all the possible local conferences and blogger meet ups that could be happening in/around your town. but attending any, all, or even one of these can seriously impact your life and your online business + presence. if you ever have the opportunity i say to jump on it!
start interacting with people who share your interests. and i don't mean reading their blogs and following them on twitter. i mean interact. start commenting with your thoughts and how their posts made you feel. ask them questions. share their posts and products on twitter and facebook. email them. ask them for advice. share your story with them. let them know that you aren't a one-hitter-quitter commenter but that you are truly interested in fostering a relationship with them.
in case you didn't notice, there are a lot of blogs out there. </sarcasm> there are a lot of people to connect with and learn from. it can definitely be a bit overwhelming. but when you find someone that you really identify with, make a noticeable effort to connect and interact with them.
once you have a regular discourse going on, then is the time to...
if, like me, you are lacking the opportunity to attend a blogging conference but you are still longing for that connection my advice is simply this:
A S K
i mean seriously. the worst someone can do is just say - no thanks i'm not interested right now. but i would almost be willing to bet (and as a methodist, i'm not a gamblin gal) that most of the people you contact will say yes. they will actually probably jump up and down, squeal, be flattered, and be beyond excited to say yes.
all kasey did was gather up her courage and send me an email and ask. that was the first big step. and it probably seems very scary and there is a big black hole for you to fall in while you are waiting for your answer, but that was all it took. immediately we came up with a list of girls and were on a roll.
but all it took was one simple question. "would you be interested in doing this with me?"
this is the picture i whipped up to show in our first meeting to describe who i was, who i loved, where i was from and what i did. i'm pretty dang proud of it!
be a little creepy
yall - remember when we all were in aol chat rooms with only the Lord knew who, chatting with random people? and how our parents warned us to not give our personal information to strangers? dude - how far has the internet come since then? no longer is it just a place to anonymously attempt to stalk little girls (not that there aren't parts that still do that) but it has become a platform for people to vent about their real life and reveal parts of themselves through their blogs solely for the purpose to connect with other people. little anonymity exists any more (to me at least) and i like it that way.
once you connect with someone and have formed a relationship - don't be afraid to get kind of creepy and ask to exchange things like phone numbers and mailing addresses. the first time i exchanged numbers with someone i met through blogging was in a direct message on twitter and went kind of like this:
me: so not to be creepy, and if you don't want to i will totally understand, but maybe we could exchange numbers so we can text?
her: yay! i was totally going to ask but i didn't want to freak you out.
so the point i am making is that someone might be thinking the same thing you are and want to exchange numbers. or hey they might want to surprise you with a sweet letter in the mail! i looove those!
the point i am NOT trying to make is this: don't tweet your number or address. use you brain when giving out your personal information. don't give it to someone without being 150% sure of who they actually are. protect yourself, your children, your home. but don't be afraid of connecting with people in real life either.
finding the group of people you want to be in a tribe with is probably the hardest part. reaching out is scary for a lot of reasons (safety concerns, fear of rejection, simple fear of putting yourself out there at all). but being brave and doing it is only going to help you grow. stepping over that boundary and reaching out will be the start of something that will inspire you, breathe new life into you and potentially change your life. if you are looking for that place to connect i highly recommend being the starting point. there are