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Now that’s a great question! I believe the answer to be yes for so many reasons, well 5 actually. I should talk about this more. I don’t believe in dating sites, I don’t believe in chat rooms. But I do believe in online communities and I KNOW for a fact that having a tribe, an online network, keeps me grounded. I love my friends. Sometimes I lote (love + hate) them because they do keep me grounded, but I’m happy to be a part of my close-knit group. Sometimes I find it hard to put into words how much they mean to me. And why would I when one of them put it so eloquently and allowed me to share it with y’all here? Without further ado, my friend, Janet from Going Crazy Wanna Go shares her story.
|Photo by Dancenhance Entertainment|
Guest Post by Janet from Going Crazy!! Wanna Go??!!
Before I started blogging, I was a blog reader. I would subscribe to my favorites and just read all day long about the lives of women who worked from home, worked outside the home, couponed to help their families save money, and taught others how to enjoy their children on a daily basis. I would comment where I felt a connection and support others as I often do in real life. I got to know a few of them, but I was just a reader to them. Sometimes the bloggers would respond and sometimes not, but I stayed loyal to quite a few of them for a while.
After I had read for several months, I started to think that maybe I could do this blog thing too. I reached out to a blogger who was near me and asked for her advice. She encouraged me and told me how she thought I could get started and then one day I took the leap. I didn’t know what I would write about, but I knew that others told me that I wrote well and were happy to see that I was using that skill for something enjoyable.
On my very first day of blogging (August 1, 2011) I came across another “newbie” and we started chatting. We found out that we both needed a LOT of help and we started learning new things and teaching each other. Not long after that we started a Newbie Blog Hop and a Facebook group for Newbies like us. We talked about the things we were learning and we had a great time. It turns out that my newbie friend is much younger than me and she had some family and marriage issues and the more we got to know about each other, the more we talked about our personal lives almost as much as we talked about our blogs (maybe more!). To this day, we are friends on Facebook and talk occasionally. The Newbie group is gone and the hop fizzled out (we passed it on to some newer newbies and I haven’t kept track of it), but our friendship is still there. Her original blog fizzled out and she started a new one, then she decided to move on to living her young, happy life. My blog is thriving, limping on some days and soaring on others, and it has been the source of a lot of happiness for my family. Someday I hope to meet Kristin in real life and give her a big ‘ole hug.
Since making a friend in Kristin, I have continued to “meet” several people online and it amazes me daily that I have made so many friends through online groups and blogging. But, can an online friendship be a true friendship?
I know that Christy has talked a lot on this blog about Collective Bias and you all already know what an amazing company this place can be to its bloggers. The community of Social Fabric is the stronghold of the company and I have met so many great people through working with them. When I was first starting out, I was timid and shy (still am in real life) and I doubted my work. I started up conversations with a few of my campaign leaders (who scared the crap out of me) and it turns out these people are (almost) just like me!
When I needed advice on a series of posts for my blog, Mallery talked to me about the logistics of it all and what she loved about the idea. She encouraged me to just go for it and rock it! I still doubted myself, but her words stuck with me for over a year and one day I took the plunge and started writing about my messy house and then I had the motivation to clean it up!
When I started to get down about my weight and my body and I put myself down too much, Summer stepped in and started giving me pep talks on a daily basis. She told me her story of an abusive marriage and her own struggles with weight. She is unashamed on her blog and she encourages me to just put it all out there. She and Mallery are both Paleo believers and they told me that my healthy lifestyle IS Paleo too! Now, I’m more motivated than ever to get healthy, not worry about size, love myself and my own beauty as I am today, and encourage other women to love themselves as well.
When I needed work, was discouraged by the work I wasn’t getting, and was looking to branch out, Jillian stepped in and offered me work, encouraged me to keep writing, found jobs that were perfect for me. She is one of “those” moms – the ones who love crepe paper and parties and make the most amazing crafts – but she encourages me to keep crafting with my boy and just being myself.
When I think that my life sucks and I just need a laugh, Amy will step in with an inappropriate, but very funny, anecdote and instantly I’m laughing instead of on the edge of tears. Amy has encouraged me in my posts to be better, do better, and work hard. She has a full time job outside the home, just like me, and she is a source of inspiration for me.
And Christy, bless her big ‘ole Texas heart, she is my rock on most days. I can text, email, call, message her on Facebook, or just think of her sometimes, and life seems more bearable. I know that sounds really mushy and dramatic, but it’s true and if you read Christy’s blog, you know it is 100% accurate. Christy has “pulled me back from the ledge” more times than I can count. She has helped me emotionally, financially, and spiritually (and yes, I know, she’s not “religious”, but she has…). She is an amazing person and friend and I was blessed the day I “met” her.
Now, to answer the question of this post, I’ll say this. I have met each of these ladies once in real life last May at a conference. I might have spent 30 minutes total with each of them (if that long) because the conference was overwhelming to me and I was more than a little ill. Even though I haven’t spent face to face time with these ladies, I consider them my very best friends. When something sad or frustrating happens, I tell them. When something exciting or funny happens, I tell them. When I thought about leaving my husband recently, I told them.
I think you could say that YES, online friends can be true friends. Well, that is if you have online friends like mine.