Saturday, July 12, 2014

Finding your tribe - a guest post for Karen by Nina

It took me well into my adulthood to accept the fact that I'm a geek. It’s not like it was a surprise, after all I spent much of my youth buried in video games, comics and speculative fiction. I also applied to a science track in high school and when I didn’t get in, proceeded to attend the same high school, taking a lot of the same courses as those who did and started learning HTML and CSS and soon after my first real programming languages. My friends used to tease me about being a geek and I always denied it, I never perceived myself as one. Geek culture at the time wasn’t exactly friendly towards women (ever hear of Rule 37? There are no girls on the Internet. One of the brainchilds of the early Internet days of my high school years) and besides that, geeks were the ones everyone bullied and I got enough of that as it was. I was almost thirty when, after a spectacular amount of soul searching, I finally admitted to myself what pretty much everyone around me had known about me for a long time before that. 

Admitting that was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me. I started finding droves of people who liked the same things I liked, who understood the jokes and references I made and it was amazing. I made it my mission to find other geek girls and find them I did, on Facebook and Twitter. Then one of them suggested starting up a geek girl blog in Finnish for other Finnish geek girls. Nörttitytöt was born.

Finding you

The thing is, to be able to find your people, the ones who get your jokes and understand your pain on a visceral rather than an intellectual level, you first have to know yourself. This is surprisingly difficult because most of us want to be seen as something different than we actually are. I, for example, wanted to be seen as an intellectual but also cool and rock and roll. Too cool to care in other words. The trouble of course being that I did care.

 I went through a lot of identities before I found and accepted the one that actually makes me happy. The great thing about that of course being that I’ve had many experiences that will and have come in useful in my writing (working on a freighter ship is in many ways comparable to working on a starship, apart from the view of course) and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. But all through those identities I also felt disconnected from most of the people around me, even while I blended in and worked hard to do so.

 So the first thing you do is decide that something that makes you happy has merit all on its own just because it makes you happy. The next thing you do is find that/those thing(s). Like the Bloggess says; Get furiously happy. (Language warning on that link BTW, might not want to listen to it over the speakers at work)

Finding your tribe

So you know yourself. Now how do you go about finding your people? You can probably guess that my first answer is going to be the internet. Blogs are a good way to start as well as any form of social media. Into the supernatural (not the show, though of course that applies too)? Romance more your thing? What about machines and monsters? Trust me, there’s everything for everyone. You might not find the right community the first time, maybe not the second time either, but you keep searching and there they’ll be.

 Meeting these people out in the real world is especially advisable. Whether it’s through cons or meetups or just plain impromptu get-togethers, for some reason the relationships we forge with people we’ve met in so called real life seem more real to us. The interactions are especially different while meeting out in the real world and some casual mention of something cool might spark an interest or drive you down toward another community of friends. So, who are you? Where is your tribe?

PS. Apparently Seth Godin has a wonderful book on creating your tribe but I haven’t read it yet. But based on the previous books by Seth Godin I have read, it’ll be well worth the effort.

 -- "Learning is not to be attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence." ~ Abigail Adams

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of Speaker For the Dead, when Novinha is being tested by...what's his name? Libo or something like that? Anyway, he tells her that people are defined by their communities and that so far she has only told him what communities she is NOT a part of, and that until he knew what communities she used to define herself he would not train her. That section has always stuck with me as being super important. Great post!


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