Although this post has been in my head ever since the Love Your Blog link up was announced, I completely failed to write it in advance and schedule it. The last four days have been a slog of travel and hospitals (not for me!) and more travel and late nights and another epic journey back home again. But that might be a good thing, because I think the resulting post, written in a little more of a hurry and with a lot more exhaustion (and largely in the car!), might be a more distilled version of all the posts I’ve been writing in my head for the last week.
I like the inspiration for this week, ‘Interactions and Community’ because it very much breaks down my experience into its two halves. As someone who enjoys Twitter and Instagram and blogging and Ravelry, I feel I have a lot of interactions with other crafters. Over this weekend, with all its stresses and worries, I’ve been able to dip into those sources for happy pictures of what other people are up to, a reminder of the world beyond.
But for all that, I’m not very good at online community. As a fairly outgoing person, who is more-than chatty in most social situations, I am shy online. I worry that my written words aren’t going to be read in the way I meant them, and having been caught up in a few online ‘dramas’, I can be very wary of established communities. Most knitting ones are friendly and welcoming, but my general anxiety and some bad experiences make me nervous. As I said in one group I joined recently, I more or less ‘anxioused myself out of posting’ on Ravelry for a while, and the nervousness still lingers.
But that’s why I like -alongs, I think. In these, I understand how the group works – we’re all taking about the same thing – and it gives me a nice introduction to them while not feeling under pressure. If, after the -along has finished, the group isn’t for me, I can go back to lurking. I do run into the KAL/CAL problem, as a crocheter when so many of these are for knitters, so I love yarn-alongs that let everyone take part. The things I love to crochet – mostly lacy shawls – are out of step with what I see across the crochet community, in their beautiful blankets and cute toys. They’re both awesome, but they’re not me.*
So where is my community? I think it’s in person, or at least one-to-one. It’s my knitting group, where I feel welcomed and at home. It’s my church, where I find faith lived out in love (and amused tolerance when I get carried away talking about yarn!). It’s the long emails to friends, where I can talk about everything and nothing. I love getting into a long conversation with someone on Twitter, where you go back and forth for a while, rather than the free-for-all that some discussions can turn into where I completely lose track of what’s going on.
I’ve always felt on the outside looking in when it comes to communities. It feels like I’m a crocheter in a craft-world where everyone knits. I’m a lace-lover in a crochet-world where everyone is making stunning blankets. I’m a chatty person in a world of 140 characters. A practical one in a world of creative wonder. I’ve always felt that I see the world sideways to other people, and not in a cool, geeky way (trust me, oddness is only cool on TV). Just in a ‘I don’t quite fit’ kind of way.
But one thing the ‘interactions’ side of thing has shown to me is that that’s okay. I come across wonderful people, ploughing their own path, not worrying whether it’s cool, or in, or whatever. It’s them, and that makes it awesome. So maybe, in amongst all these interactions, I’ve found my community after all. And if it doesn’t quite look like everyone else’s, then maybe I need to just stop worrying, get out a bit more (in person and online) and enjoy it for what it is. Community doesn’t just come to you, and challenges like this are a great chance to find a new one.
If you’ve just jumped in, or are thinking of doing so, then do say hello. The link up post for today is here and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone 🙂
*Disclaimer: I have made both blankets and toys, and probably will in the future! They’re just not the first thing I reach for when I want to make something new.