Monday, September 15, 2014
Midwest S'mores Night.
It seems silly to say that an app changed my life--but that's the truth. People scoff at social media, and it isn't without its shortcomings, that's for sure, but it can be such an amazing tool in bringing together people that would have never met otherwise. 50 years from now, if my grandchildren ask me what the big social media boom was like, those will be the stories I tell--stories of how I made friends like Haley, Tessa, Aimee, Emma, Lindsey, Ronnie, Ana, Jessica, Sarah, Madison.... Yes, social media can be addicting. Yes it can make you feel inferior if you let it. But if you take the reins, amazing things can happen. Lindsey and Ronnie made amazing things happen a couple weeks ago. They hosted an Instagram meet-up/ s'mores night at Lindsey's house. After months (or even years) of seeing pieces of each other's lives online, we would be face to face with our insta-friends, some of us for the first time.
Meeting people from the internet is usually a little weird, no matter how you slice it, but there was something about that night that made that disappear. Maybe it was the comforting nature of Lindsey's beautiful home, the warm glow of the fire, the crackle of vinyl records playing, the incredible food, or the sound of laughter constantly filling the air--whatever it was, it was absolutely magical. Some of these girls I had been insta-friends with, some I had met in real life, and some were total strangers, but I felt like I had known them all for years.
The past couple years in Springfield have been great, but they've also been hard sometimes. I moved back home for a couple years between grad school and getting married to help take care of my grandparents, and when I came back to Springfield, most of my friends had gone. The ones who were still around had moved deeper into careers, relationships...and to be honest, I wasn't sure exactly where to begin to make new friends. I sure as heck didn't think to look on the internet, for pete's sake. I also thought that most people my age had established friend groups already, and trying to break into a friend group as an introvert is like a made-to-order panic attack. I thought I was mostly okay, though. I had my husband, I had my cats...and deep down I was lonely as heck. Sometimes, as a woman, you just need other women around. Slowly, people like the incredible Layne began to pop into my life, through--you guessed it, the internet.It was after meeting her that I decided to make it a goal to meet up with my local online friends and to be proactive in fostering real, authentic friendships both on and offline. So when I got the invitation for Midwest S'mores Night, I said yes immediately.
I couldn't be more glad I did. Over a week later, I'm still thinking about what an incredible night it was. We ate, we drank, we laughed (oh my gosh, how we laughed), we told stories. We were happy. We were open. We were known. There was an air of authenticity, and there was no judgment, just a feeling of incredible love that radiated from every conversation. How often can you say that about any big group of people, much less people who barely knew one another? It was incredible.
I think back on that evening--that perfect, cool fall evening--and I realize how much I had been longing for that. How much I need that. How much I want more of my evenings to be surrounded by that authentic kind of community. That is how life should be.
**For an absolutely beautiful, eloquent recap of the evening, take a look at Lindsey's blog post. It captures the evening perfectly.