Day 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?
It's funny you should mention that, because community means people. And I'm terrified of people. I'm an extreme introvert. When I was a teenager, if I wanted to buy something from K-mart, I would make my brother come with me so he could exchange the pleasantries with the check-out attendant while I silently paid. I could quite happily spend whole days alone, and often did when I was single. Spending time with other people is draining to me. I'm very shy with new people and I have to get to know someone well before I can call them by name. I have to know they have good intentions before I can look them in the eye. To some extent I've been able to get past this at work, by telling myself that we're all professionals and they have to deal with me in a professional manner, but I still find it a struggle sometimes.
Only my boyfriend and a few close friends don't have that draining effect on me. I can be myself around them. This might sound terrible, but I tell myself that they don't count. I really don't mean that how it sounds. What I mean is - they won't judge me. I can screw up and it's OK. I know they'll forgive me. I only have friends because of the Internet - a lifeline for shy people! Every single one of my friends - I either met them on the Internet, or through other people that I met on there. It's a wonderful, miraculous place, where you can hide your face and let others judge you on your personality only. My confidence level always shoots up immensely as soon as I sit down behind the keyboard. There, I can pretend that they're not real and I'm not real and if I stuff up, none of it matters anyway. It makes me feel so much more relaxed. Real people are all too real.
I can understand the concept of community, why people want to live in a world that's basically friendly. They want to be surrounded by people they know, walk down the street and chat with their neighbours. They want to feel safe knowing that the people in their vicinity are supportive and familiar. And that's fine - for them. For me, that idea is strange.
I want to live in a world where people leave me alone. I like being anonymous in a big city. I like not having to chat with the person who sells me a loaf of bread. I want to have a choice regarding my interactions with other people. Self check-out at the supermarket is a godsend for introverts like me.
I want to reach out to other people. I want to make friends with people that have similar interests to me. I'm very pleased that I live in a place where the supermarket is a 5-minute walk away. It's like living in a village in the middle of a city. When I go down to the supermarket, I hope to run into that lady that always says "hi" to me. She seems really nice and I'd like to find out her name one day. Sometimes I like to say "hi" to complete strangers, just to see if I can make them smile or not.
In the last few months, I've started making comments on some of my favourite blogs. I want to let people know that I'm there, I'm reading and I'm enjoying. I try not to over-analyse what I've typed anymore - what's important is that I've said something, that I've made a connection. I don't know if any friendships will be possible, but how wonderful would that be? I get excited just thinking about it. I want to be part of a community of creative people. I could learn and experience so much, and perhaps even have something to contribute that others might be interested in. Next year, I'm looking forward, if circumstances allow, to expanding my connections, reaching out to more people. To building stronger and more meaningful threads in the world.
If it seems like two different people wrote that piece, it wasn't. It was all me. I started it yesterday and finished it today. What can I say - it's confusing, even to me. I think the two sections reflect the fact that I'm changing. As my confidence grows, I'm less likely to jump to the conclusion that people won't like me, that they'll judge me or dismiss me. It's a struggle and a daily task to like myself and allow the possibility that others might too. With each person that I reach out to, I can almost imagine the world that will open up ...