My Tribe: How Online Networking Helped Me Find My People

 

A misfit among misfits is how I’ve felt for most of my life.  Growing up, I never really fit in anywhere.  Sure I had friends, but I didn’t fit in with preppy kids because I was too poor.  I didn’t fit in with the stoner kids, because I just didn’t look like them much less partake of what earned them their moniker. I didn’t fit in with the nerds or punkers, either.  As a teenager, I was big into the hippie culture of the late ’60’s, long before there were hipsters or whatever the hell they call themselves today.  I walked around with peace signs on my jeans jacket, hair in a long braid down past my butt. My musical tastes ran a spectrum most kids scoffed at.  I stuck out a little bit more than your average misfit.

Once I went to college I found a few more misfits like me, but still they weren’t my tribe.  I wasn’t into the drugs, sleeping around and partying that many of them were.  I had a job to do, get through school, so I could start earning a living wage and get on with my life.

Eventually I married and had kids and changed careers.  I wanted to write.  I had wanted to be a writer since I was in high school, but I, and others around me, brushed it off as not being a viable selection as far as careers were concerned.  It took me until well into my thirties to realize that that was a bunch of B.S.

I dipped my toe into the writing pool around age 36 and got a few things published. However, ever the pessimist that I am, I backed off on my goals, believing that it was a fluke.  I wanted to bask in that success and not have it ruined by a bazillion rejections.  Not a bright move, in hindsight.

Thankfully, through the wonder of blogging and writing, I found a writer much like me and she encouraged me to keep going.  While I had no end of encouragement at home from my Sweet Babboo and my friends, this encouragement was different.  This came from someone who understood the torture that is writing, the push and pull of banging around in your own head for hours a day putting words to paper.

Then she formed a secret group of writers who could get together and share ideas, ask questions and just be themselves.  In that group I’ve found a sort of Shangri-La. In the few months that I’ve been there, I’ve learned more about the writing business, blogging and freelancing than I have in the past 5 years all by myself.  I’ve found a group of people who share the same neuroses as me, who are haunted by the same writerly fears as me, and who get that sometimes we need a swift kick in the pants as motivation to keep going.

And they are unbelievably kind, giving, open people.  They have banded together virtually and in person by attending a conference together.  Then we found out that my friend’s secret group isn’t all that secret.  There are people desperate to join the fun.  My friend, whether intentionally or not, created a small writer’s community filled with some of the most amazing talent the internet has to offer today.  And I cannot tell you how much I am amazed.

All of this started because a lady in Maine reached out to me one day to say she liked my writing.  That’s it.  A stranger took the leap and contacted me. From there I found my tribe because she grabbed me by my virtual sleeve and dragged me along with her.  And I’m so glad she did.

Even though I am truly a fledgling writer when it comes to freelance work, I don’t feel as if I don’t belong.  I am writing and sending out submissions daily. There are nearly 140 people in the blogosphere who know my name and come to my rescue at the slightest mention of needing help.  It’s a marvelous little world and it speaks to the power of networking.  It speaks to the generosity of our species.

Never have I been more proud to be called writer.

What about you?  Have you found your tribe? If so, how?  Leave your story in the comments.

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