Today we have an AMAZING guest post from Ashley! Thanks to her for this, and check out her blog linked below! She started VEDA (well, the VEDA we all go by) and is generally awesome. And, my BFF. Obviously.
Hello readers. This is Tom’s bff Ashley and I blog over at Writing To Reach You. Tom and I have never discussed our bff status, but I am stating it now and it would be rude of him to edit this. So my bff Tom asked me to blog about making and meeting (IRL!) friends on the internet when you’re an introvert. Some relevant background information on me: I have been an introvert all of my life, but I’ve only known what that means for maybe the last ten years, and I’ve only stopped apologizing for it in the last couple years. Introversion and shyness are not the same thing, but they’re not exactly strangers either, and I happen to host them both. And, as for the other part of this discussion, I have been blogging for about four years, and I’ve met so many bloggers now that I’ve lost count.
As for how to make friends in general, I have no idea. Make eye contact with an extrovert and hope they do the rest of the work? I have found it easier to make friends on the internet, but I have also learned that all the old rules of meeting people still apply. The way to make friends is to be yourself and find people who like you. This is something that gets easier with age, but I think the internet speeds it along, because for a while you don’t think to be anyone but yourself. Why would you need to anyway when you can find groups of people who like all the same weird things that you do? I started blogging with the vague hope that I would find some people who would be interested in what I had to say, but I had no idea that I would make some of my best friends. As in life, if you try to be what people want, they will see right through it. You can only pretend to be someone else for so long, and as an introvert, you can only pretend to be an extrovert for about 10 minutes before you’ll be exhausted.
You are going to find people online who you click with instantly, you’re going to find people you can grow friendships with over time, and you are going to find really awesome people with whom you simply have no chemistry. Everything about this is perfectly normal and okay. Go for the easy friendships, put the work in on the slow-growing friendships, and just smile and wave at the awesome people who aren’t for you. This is the internet and not a small town; there is no reason to force relationships with people you have nothing in common with or who don’t want to be your friend. It is my secret belief that it is easier to meet people on the internet when you create stuff. When you write or make videos or tweet original thoughts, you give people a chance to get to know you. These things can serve as the foundation for real conversations. When you only react to other people or tweet links or reblog pictures, you don’t give people a lot to go on.
If you’re anything like me, then you are nice, but maybe not all that outwardly friendly. Even if you find someone you think you could be good friends with, you may not know how to make that happen. I suggest that at the very least you should make yourself open to the possibility of friendship. There will be a few people who see your awesome from miles away and do all of the work of establishing a friendship. Don’t resist these kind people. But if that’s not happening, then I would suggest first establishing some kind of a connection through blog comments and replies on twitter. Make relevant and authentic comments. If that goes well, send an email to establish a more personal connection. If things go well enough there, then you will be good enough friends to move on to gchat and texts. If after several good faith efforts to establish a friendship the other person does not reciprocate, then move on and find your people. They are out there.
As an introvert, you are more likely to take delight in a few good friends rather than a whole swarm of acquaintances. Don’t forget this and somehow think you need to be friends with everyone on the internet. You only need a few people who get you. And once you find them, make it your job to be a damn good friend. Distance may be a factor, but it doesn’t prevent you from being there for your friends. Make yourself available to talk. Comfort them when they need it. Send them cat pictures to cheer them up. Do what you say you’re going to do. Know that as with any friendship, things may sometimes be difficult. These friendships are as real as any other and you should treat them that way.
So you have made it this far and now you’re ready to make things really real and meet your internet friends. We will assume you have taken all of the appropriate safety precautions--like, you know this person well and you are meeting in a public place. Make sure this is a person you really do want to meet and choose a venue that works for you. As an introvert, I’d suggest that you choose a somewhat quiet place where you won’t have to talk over the noise. You also probably shouldn’t choose a large convention as the first place you meet bloggers (you’re more at home in small groups). Then, expect it to be a little weird: the first time I ever met a blogger in real life, I walked up to Nico and he said, “Ashley?” and I had this very surreal moment of feeling like the internet had just come to life. But, remember: this is the same person you have been talking to for months or years, so no matter how weird things might seem for a minute, you will soon be able to pick up where your conversation last left off. Now: repeat.
As internet people, we make a big deal about how the relationships we form here are real, and we are telling the truth, but nothing compares to finally meeting someone in real life. I swear you can learn more about a person by watching them talk for two minutes than you can from reading their blog for years (see: why you should vlog). But the really great thing about meeting someone you first got to know on the internet is that they already know you. You don’t have to explain your quirks or give them your whole back story. I don’t even have to explain that I’m an introvert or shy. This person already knows and likes me, so I get to feel comfortable being myself from the beginning. As someone who doesn’t normally wear her personality on her sleeve, this is such a relief.
I am going to assume that you had a really great time meeting that girl you’ve known on the internet for a couple years now, but if you have one bad experience meeting a blogger, don’t let it turn you against the whole idea. Try again. And if you’re a thoughtful extrovert who has read this far, know that introverts really appreciate when you respect our introversion, but you don’t have to treat us like precious cargo. We already like you, so you just be yourself, and don’t worry too much about us. We like that you do a lot of the talking. It gives us a chance to think. Now, who’s ready to meet some bloggers?
I'm supposed to go to CrossFit again tonight. Well, I say supposed to like someone else made the decision. I did.
It's been a week and a half since I first went. I didn't go back after due to a friend coming into town and then getting sick.
Then I started realizing how easily I could start cutting down calories and started thinking about life and how I want to make sure I'm spending time with the people I love, doing things I love.
Then I started talking to friends (including the current object of my affection) more on Skype and other voice chat systems.
And I know it's good for me. I know it won't be as bad as I fear, I know I'll have more fun than I think I will, and I know it won't even take as long as I fear. But I don't wanna. I don't want to leave this warm bubble of friends, of worlds I know. I don't want to dive into this cold and, honestly, seemingly unfriendly world of a gym.
I know it will be good for me. And I know I'll be glad I did it.
My nose is also sniffling today, heralding a resurgence of a cold. Experience tells me if I go and exercise I may exacerbate things, which worries me somewhat, but that's more of an excuse than anything else. And I know I can't go tomorrow, due to a get-together with a friend. And I won't wanna go on Wednesday any more than today. But I may be sniffling less.
I've been worried lately about stress, and I know that this exercise would, in the long run, help me relieve stress. But there's nothing I'd like more than to not have to face that room of people I don't know, to not have to find the trainer and ask for help, and to just say "hey, I'll lose weight through diet change," and never go again.
But I will go back. If not today, then Wednesday. If not Wednesday, than next week. If not next week, than the week after. In fact, I just messaged my friend who went there, to give me some support.
It's okay to not want to do something, for some things to be hard, for some things to be forced. It's about identifying how to make them less hard.
(that's what she said?)