community and belonging

Reverb 10 prompt #7: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Don't we all really just want to belong to something? And doesn't it feel, for those of us attempting to navigate this online, independent-artist world, that it just seems so hard to get *our* voices heard, amongst all those other voices out there?

Doesn't it seem sometimes that we might write and write on our blogs and make things for our etsy shops and retweet people and send out newsletters, but that there's no one out there to see it all?

Doesn't it seem that sometimes the only person you're doing all of this for is yourself?

Community is the key to knowing you aren't out there alone. Community. But how to find it? I'm not really sure.

I think the first step is letting go of your own sense of not-enoughness and getting those fucking high school comparison demons out of your head.

Honestly, I had a different post in mind earlier today. I was going to write about how internet friends can actually be real-life friends. It was going to warm and fuzzy. I was going to talk about Michelle and Jess and Carolyn and how I turned my Spring girls into real friends. Warm, fuzzy, sunshine-y love. 

But I don't actually think that's what people need to hear. I think people need to hear that it's hard. It's hard to keep putting yourself out there over and over and f-ing over. It's hard to feel like you're going it alone. It's hard to feel like it's just you against the internet.

I think the issue of belonging is more important than writing a happy feel-good post. Especially if people would read said happy, feel-good post and feel like they are missing out, like I have something they don't. 

Because, dear lord, it's not a competition. But it feels like it is all the time, doesn't it?

We are all trying to carve our way out. We all want to be heard and noticed and picked up. We all want the same things, don't we?

We are all in the same boat. Me, you. The "cool kids" of the blogging and craft world. The ones that you might think are above wanting to belong and be part of something bigger? I'd be willing to bet actual money that they are all needing the same things we are for themselves.

I recently reached out to a couple of bloggers, those whom I considered to be in the "cooler than me" club. Women who have a following, a real voice that stands out strong against all of the mumbles that are all around us. I reached out to these people to let them know that they inspired me and I thought they were great and asked for their address so I could send them a little gift.

I was so nervous to actually hit send on those emails. Why would someone want to hear from me? Who am I to reach out to someone? Were they just going to think I was psycho for asking for their mailing address?

Yes, these are actual thoughts that entered into my head.

Can we talk about how all I was trying to do was send someone an email telling them I thought they were awesome? How could that be so hard?

I think that what made it the hardest was this sense in my head of not belonging, these insecurities I have (don't we all?) that I'm not enough. That my thoughts are somehow less than others, that what I have to say doesn't mean as much coming from me as it would coming from someone more established, more known, more popular.

Why couldn't popularity just go away with high school? It seems like we should all be beyond that, but I'm not sure we are.

So: community, belonging. We all want to be enough. And we all want to contribute. And we all want to know that we're part of something bigger, of a force bigger than just our individual selves.

Step one is letting go and reaching out. To whomever. Admitting that we all feel insecurities and that we do share common ground around this.

Knowing that we all crave community. Isn't that why we come here after all? Isn't this what this whole thing is all about?