I met my first “internet friend” in October 2009.
Me: new mom, so lonely, zero interaction with other moms that I felt connected to, unshowered and wearing my first ever pair of sweatpants (yes, first EVER).
Her: new mom, so lonely, zero interaction with other moms in real life, LIKELY unshowered and wearing sweats.
Also me: blogging like my life depended on it (maybe it did) and starting to find this thing called a “community”…women who were also new moms, new bloggers, and seemed to totally understand the phase of life that I was currently wallowing in.
Also her: leaving a comment on one of my latest posts that seemed to resonate with her.
I replied to that comment. She replied back. I replied again and left a comment on one of her blog posts. She replied to that one too. Within a few days we were friends in all the social places that bloggers go to be friends (Twitter and Facebook, mostly) and were in constant contact.
Truthfully, it was the first time I felt like I had a real mom friend who understood what I was going through, what I was creating and who I was becoming. And she felt the same.
We met in real life a few months later when she was in town for a conference. I told her my secret desire to work in media. She told me her secret desire to start an events company. We created plans on scraps of paper and laughed about how funny it would be if it all actually happened.
And it all did – every plan we wrote down that night came to fruition within a year. We championed the heck out of each other and wrote long and short emails about the ups and downs of chasing really crazy dreams with babies strapped to our backs and second babies on the way.
Without that first internet friend, I don’t think I would be where I am in life today, and I know I never would have met the person who gave me a giant shove to chase those dreams I scribbled down on some scrap paper.
Over my years of living online, I’ve met some of the most amazing people who have inspired and motivated me when I needed it the most. They’ve virtually contacted me to tell me big news before it gets released into the world, they virtually cried over heartfelt emails that told me tales of disappointment and failure, and they virtually hold my hand as I tell them tales of my own disappointment and heartbreak.
Certainly I am not discounting friends I have met in real life – they are equally amazing and there for me in a completely honest and oh-so-necessary way! – but there is something about meeting others who live in the online space that I work and live in each day that makes me feel connected, loved, and necessary.
I don’t know if I could imagine my life without my friends in the online world. Heck, I don’t know if I would be making a living off my blog if it wasn’t for all of them. And I understand that it’s easy to dismiss internet people as randoms but I have found that when you let some of those internet people in, amazing and life-changing friendships can blossom.
Because those online friendships: They’re real, they’re authentic and they’re oh so important.
So leave a comment on someone’s blog post when it resonates, tweet someone who makes you laugh, or send some Instagram love to someone who makes you truly think – you never know what kind of real and authentic friendship is waiting just around the corner. <3