Over 15 years ago now I was feeling a sense of burnout from my customers. It seemed everybody wanted to be my "friend" because I owned a bead store. I would get invites to weddings, birthdays, social gatherings, etc., from people who I had no clue who they were! Every now and then they would let slip that they wanted to befriend me because I owned a bead store (and at the time one of the few in California!) and maybe they could get some "deals"! Serious? How hurtful that was. You wanted to be my friend so you could get something? Not because you liked me or thought I was cool? Or maybe because I seemed like a nice person, or because I had something in common with you? Not for any reason that would make me feel good....just because I had something you wanted? Yuck!
I crept into a little shell and found myself being really guarded when people were nice to me. That is so not my nature! You can ask anybody who knows me personally to find out that I am really outgoing, open, trusting. For me to recede into a shell was so uncomfortable.
But luckily for me right around the corner was the advent of the Internet and chat rooms, forums, email lists, newsgroups where like-minded people gathered. Yeehaw! So, I had this bright idea that I would join in the conversations but I wouldn't let on who I was. (such a smart girl!) What didn't dawn on me was that the spelling of my name is not common, (duh!...not so smart afterall are you, missy!) and within just a couple of weeks I was outed. I felt kinda foolish. And I felt bad that I was being deceptive. But I was craving some personal interaction with people and afraid to put myself in the same position I was trying to run from.
Luckily the group I bonded with the closest was a group on an AOL beaders forum. When I confessed my deception they totally understood and did not judge me for trying to be someone other than who I really was. And what was even better they accepted me first as just another beader. Someone to visit with. Rarely would I get the feeling that I was being "used". Instead I was able to share what I knew about beads and beadwork with a group of peers who happily shared what they knew with me in exchange. How freakin' awesome!
As years went by I have continued to develop online friendships. Some of them priceless. And one way of doing that I enjoy immensely is to join in to swaps, trades, events, causes that bring beaders closer together. Sometimes in groups and sometimes one-on-one.
I am hoping I get the luck of the draw on the upcoming Bead Soup Blog Party as I see this as yet another way to connect with even more beaders in a positive, fun, sharing environment.
Wish me luck! The draw is just around the corner!