It should be no surprise that I am a bit head-over-heels with the blogging community. I’m an admin at Healthy Living Blogs, started CDNY Eat Drink Blog, and have spoken on panels about the healthy living blogging community at the past two Healthy Living Summits.
Blogging has completely changed my life. I’ve spoken on this countless times before, and this past weekend, I met several other people who had similiar stories. I found myself getting a bit teary a handful of times at the wonders of the online community I have found myself in, as each reader and blogger shared what they’ve learned, how they’ve grown, and what the community has done for each of their lives.
I asked my very good friend Alicia to share a bit of her story. Enjoy!
Hi. My name is Alicia and I used to be socially awkward. Before I begin gushing about how important blogging and meeting people (and friends!) through blogging is to me, I am going to give a bit of a back story on how I became a socially awkward sally.
Lets go back, wayyy back, to 2006. I was freshly graduated from high school and had the world at my finger tips. Okay, not really; I was attending a local community college while all of my close friends moved away to go to big fancy schools all around the country. While I was in high school, I had no trouble making friends. I was the social butterfly who was a source of connection for other friendships to grow. Because of this, I wasn’t at all worried when my friends went away to school. After all, friendships had never been a problem for me.
Flash-forward to the summer of 2007, when my two best friends came home for the summer to visit. While we were all busy at our separate schools, I had met Chris. I had made a few friends at school, but none that really qualified calling just for fun or asking out on a friend date. Chris really became my life raft. We were together all the time and he became (and still is) my best friend.
My friends moved away, so I moved on. Simple as that. We still talked regularly, but things became strained. When they came home over the summer, I feel that they didn’t understand why my life didn’t revolve around them being there. Chris and I had a routine, and I wanted them to meet him and understand that he was going to be around for a while. I don’t know why they didn’t like him or treat him as a friend, but it hurt me.
After a couple days, Chris and I were headed to Maine. It was time for me to meet his grandparents and the rest of his family. While we were there I received a phone call from my dad saying that the police had been to my house asking about my whereabouts on a night previous to when we left for vacation. (I was home studying. stupid summer classes).
My friends had decided it would be fun to drive around to the homes of all of the people they didn’t like and deface cars and driveways with temporary spray paint. One of them was Chris’s car. They spray painted a penis on his car and wrote “dick” on his driveway. They did this to at least one other car, the owner of which saw them drive away and called the police.
Because my friends had moved across the country, nobody had any of their contact information. The person who called the police associated me with them. So, when we came home from Maine, one of the first stops we made was the police station. We were questioned about what happened and I told them everything I knew, including how it had happened to Chris’s car. I told them I knew who it was, and gave them all of the contact information that I could about my former best friends.
I knew at that point that these friends from my past were toxic to my life. Even though I had known these girls for over 10 years, they had proven to be not good friends; they were tearing me down for the sake of their enjoyment. I become depressed. I still had Chris, but now that the truth about my friendships was out in the air, I felt the weight of loneliness in a new way. I was crying all the time and couldn’t understand how someone could be so mean. I felt bad for Chris having to deal with my clinginess and overemotional self.
At about this time, I started reading blogs. I read blogs for over a year before I realized, “Hey! I can do that!” My first blog was really just a place where I posted things I had seen around the web that I liked, or recipes that I found that looked yummy. It was a place where I had a creative outlet to do whatever I wanted. When I joined twitter , I found a friend (VitaminAmy) who I knew from an old job.
Hi Alicia! Rosey Rebecca here! Thanks for the comment! There’s a bunch of local healthy living bloggers in the area, and we do meet-ups! Let me know if you’re interested! – Rebecca
Suddenly, I learned there were a group of bloggers in my area! I didn’t know how to contain my excitement! Rebecca and I went to the same university and made plans to meet for lunch. At first I was nervous about meeting this stranger. When I told my parents are was meeting someone for lunch they were surprised, who was this secret friend that Alicia made? Meeting bloggers for the first time can be awkward. Sure I knew a lot about her life via her blog, but what was she really like in person?
These feelings subsided as soon as we met. Rebecca brought Emily to lunch and we all immediately clicked. Not only could we talk about our blogs, but we found we had a lot more in common. These lunches became regular meet ups and were the first time that I was setting plans with people on a regular basis. Before these lunches, I had a really hard time talking to people. After the falling out with my friends, I felt that I didn’t know how to connect with others. I had lost faith in myself and lost all confidence in making new friends. I was afraid that I was going to get hurt again.
I realized that these bloggers were really amazing people. Soon after the lunch meet ups began, other opportunities came. This meant meeting other bloggers and branching out with the opportunity to make new friends. If I wanted to make friends with these people, I needed to get over my fear and find the confidence that I lost. Finally, I realized at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit that I finally got my groove back. Not only was I socializing with friends that I had from the Capital District, but I was going out of my way to meet and get to know new people. I am still on a high from all of the connections that I made over the long weekend.
Long story short: I’ve learned that bloggers are amazing people. I don’t know what kind of person I would be today if I was still stuck in my friendless rut. My friendships with old friends and bloggers have blossomed because I understand that you have to put yourself out there to strengthen relationships. All you need to do is take that first step- the blogging community is welcoming and friendly and want to meet you.
If you are interested in meeting new people in your area, I recommend checking out Healthy Living Blogs location pages. This fantastic website can be used to find bloggers all over the world. It is basically a list of new friends!
Note from Heather: Want some tips on how to talk to strangers and near-strangers? Check out The Lonely Files: Part 5!