Making Friends Online and In Line

Two blog posts in one week?! Yes, dear readers, it’s happening.

I was a little restless this morning, so I decided to get myself off the couch and head to the college bookstore that’s in my neighborhood… only to discover they don’t have public wifi. So, I’m at a Tim Horton’s and I just have to laugh because when I was in Buffalo earlier this week for my U2 adventure, I spent more time at Tim Horton’s than I did my own hotel, it seemed.

I don’t have a super clear aim for this blog post today, but I felt the itch to write, so let’s see where this goes.

First, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the coolest thing that’s been happening almost nonstop since my concert on Tuesday. Thanks to the internet (and, ugh, I begrudgingly have to thank Facebook for a lot of this), I’ve been able to find everyone I made friends with in line – my concert experience wouldn’t have been near as amazing without them, and I’m so grateful that with social media, we’re now able to keep in touch until the next one. Aaand I think with that, I just found the subject of this blog post!

I’m a very outgoing person. I can make small talk with the best of ’em, and my entire work experience lies in customer service – it’s literally my job to communicate with people from all walks of life. That being said, I’ve also become rather introverted. Can you be outgoing and also introverted? I’m going to go with a yes on that, because this is my blog and what I say goes. Nah, but for real, just go with me on this one. I can carry conversation with anyone, and I often enjoy it. But when it comes to actually baring my soul, getting into my passions, fears, and everything else that’s under the surface… that’s where I now struggle, typically. I’ve been burned by too many people in the past to just open up to anyone as an adult, even though many people who interact with me daily assume I am exactly how I appear on the surface.

Enter the internet. 2002 internet. AOL, dial-up, family computer internet.

I was 14, realizing that making friends in high school was not a shred easier than it had been in grade school (and I graduated 8th grade with exactly one (1) school friend). I was already doing theater pretty much year-round, and I was a social butterfly there, but school was just… really lonely for me. So, I began looking around online, as any curious teenager does. I found a blogging site called DiaryLand, and within a few weeks, had friends all over the country.

Baby’s first blog, y’all. It was a magical time. I bared my young soul on that site, and in doing so, made a few friends who remain to this day… 15 years later (how in the world is that possible? It’s been that long??). We all eventually moved to LiveJournal, then some of us, Xanga, before MySpace and Facebook took over our lives. By that time, I was doing better with my real life – I had finally grown more comfortable with my quirky interests, and in doing so, wasn’t as afraid to make friends based on more than just being classmates.

My best friend and eventual maid of honor came into my life in 2005, and by 2008, she taught me how to trust people again (I don’t know that I’ve ever actually told her that and now I can’t wait for her to read this and make her emotional face at her phone – Hi, Kelly!). For a few years there, things were great! My DropBox is full of photos from those years – it always makes me laugh that my college-age memories have nothing to do with college and everything to do with the handful of people who became my inner circle then, but regardless. Good times.

As I went through my last semesters of college, 2009 into 2010, Tumblr became a Thing. And my depression became a Bigger Thing. Life post-grad wasn’t great!!! I’ve blogged about it before and I probably will again, so I won’t get super into that here, but I will remind you of that so you know that when I started using Tumblr and finding people who liked the same TV shows and celebrities I did… it was everything. I could feel myself returning to my old ways, not knowing how to get along with new people in real life since I was so uncomfortable with myself, but on Tumblr, it was a beautifully different story.

The friends I made liveblogging NBC Thursdays (R.I.P.) and Saturday Night Live have stuck around, y’all. If our wedding had been larger than 70 guests, they all would have been invited. Every time I’ve met up with them, there’s no initial anxiety on my end, which, like I said, typically happens when I meet new people in real life now because of the things I’ve been through. Truthfully, I don’t consider my Tumblr friends exactly that now – they’re my friends, plain and simple. Most of us don’t use Tumblr anymore, but when someone we used to obsess over does something notable (or questionable… ahem, Jimmy Fallon) now, they’re the people I immediately text to react together – all we’re missing are our folders of reaction gifs circa 2011.

I truly figured that once we started leaving Tumblr, that would be the end of my branching out to new people. Is that a weird thing to say? I’m (nearly) 30 years old, and with that, I had felt like I was pretty well set with a support system and circles of friends. Like, I’m always ready to get to know new people at my store – and in doing so, I’ve met some really awesome people who I’m sure will be in my life for a while! – but for those sort of friendships that are more kindred spirits than anything else? I figured I had done my thing.

Enter U2. (Of course. Y’all thought I could get through a blog post without mentioning them again?) (ALSO, for a longer-than-usual sidebar: also enter one of my dearest friends, who recently introduced me to two of her friends; the four of us are all taking on our thirties together on Twitter and my life has been truly made better by them!)

A few months back, I decided to revisit Tumblr. I made an account that’s not tied to me in any other way – it’s just there for me to share photos of Bono and obsess over the rest of the band, so I’m not driving my other Twitter followers completely crazy. It took about… a week? or so, and I was already considering the people I met in this community friends. We’ve been finding each other on other social media now, and I know the same thing that happened my last time on Tumblr will be happening again soon. Real friendships come from real obsessions, you guys. It’s beautiful.

And THIS is where I was trying to lead with this blog post when I first started it. I’ve never been someone to shy away from doing things alone – especially things like traveling and attending concerts or other shows (remember that time I took a train overnight each way, by myself, to Chicago, to see two middle-aged Canadian comedians?). That being said, going to this U2 show alone held a tiny bit of anxiety for me, for some reason. I think just because the stadium is so big, and there was so much free time to kill? I don’t know. Regardless, if you read my last post, you now know that I had nothing to worry about. The thing that happened for me on DiaryLand, then on Tumblr? That happened, in real life this time. By the end of the concert, we were all hugging each other goodbye as tightly as any long-time friends (while trying not to piss off the security staff that was already clearing us out of the stadium).

I guess this rambling post is more a reminder from me, to me, that when you let people in, especially when you have some common groundwork to start a friendship on, they’re going to be the people you want to keep around. They’ll surprise you with how quickly they take you in. You’ll get to forget all your trust issues, and each time you think back on those issues… they’ll feel a little more foreign to you. The people who burned you in the past will matter less and less every day, and you’ll have to laugh a little because 14, 19, 26-year-old you didn’t think that would be possible.

Too long, didn’t read: the people in my life are truly beautiful and I would be nothing without them. Have a good weekend, readers!

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