As most of you know, Chris and I recently took a week long road trip with our best friends Kaelah and Mike. It was one of my most favorite vacations of all time, I had so much fun getting to know them a little bit more, and spending time with three of your favorite people in the world in a charming little town is just unbeatable. I came home from the trip with a head swirling with thoughts and emotions and happiness. I started thinking about how crazy the whole thing is. Within a year Kaelah and I went from being two girls who like the internet a whole lot and emailed back and forth a bit, to being best friends who take trips together and have lofty dreams of one day being neighbors and sharing our lives as they change with time. If you would have told me last winter that this was going to happen, I would have told you you were a nut! I never would have imagined that I could find one of my very best friends just because I spend too much time on the internet. But it got me thinking... This is why I blog. I blog because I want to express myself, but ultimately I'm looking to connect with people. I never thought that having this little corner of the internet to call my own would lead me in the direction it has, but I am so thankful for it. I think a lot of people blog because they want someone to talk to, or they're looking for people they have something in common with, and I don't think anyone would turn down finding a true friend because of it. And it happens more often that I realized! So I came up with Connections as a way to showcase two people who have found that, who have found a true friendship with someone solely because of their blogs.
I'm also aware that there are plenty of people online that are hellbent on bringing people down. I don't want anyone to be discouraged by that, because even though there's plenty of haters out there, you might luck out and find a true friend. The internet can be a pretty negative place sometimes, but I wanted to show you that it can be truly amazing, and that you can meet someone who feels like a sister, who will support you through thick and thin even if you live on opposite sides of the world. I think that's a pretty awesome thing, don't you?
Each segment of Connections will feature two lovely people who have found each other through their respective internet presences and have developed a true friendship. Both people will answer a few questions about their friendship and the role the internet played in its development, and hopefully they can share something special with you, the reader, and with each other. I hope you enjoy this feature as much as I do, I really think it's important to support each other and be loving towards others, and this is my little way of showing appreciation for those who can do that. So, drum roll please! Here's the very first installment of...
1. How long have you known each other? How did your friendship begin?
Susannah: I first came across Kaelah's blog in the very beginning of 2010. She was sponsoring another blog I read, and at that point I rarely clicked the ads in the sidebar, but her's stuck out for some reason (I think it was that red hair!!). I think I spent an hour or two reading through her blog that first day, and then followed her and read every post after that. She was just the sweetest thing, and I really admired her philosophy on positivity and self-esteem. I was in a funk in my own life, and the things she was writing really rang true to me in a way that hadn't happened with reading anyone else's blog. She seemed so normal, just a regular girl with fabulous ideas (and a killer wardrobe!). I was smitten :) I think I left comments on her blog when I had something to say, and eventually I took the plunge and emailed her. I can't remember the first email, but it was probably a total fan-girl moment!
Kaelah: I actually had to go dig through my gmail archives to find our first emails, but I think it dates all the way back to April 21st, 2010! That was our first email interaction, at least. She had been commenting on my blog for a bit and after that initial email we started talking pretty frequently! I had just started following her blog after realizing she was a total doll, and she even was so sweet to email me on the day of one of my finals to wish me good luck! Between emails, blog comments and eventually Twitter, it was inevitable that we became close! We also exchanged little PenPal packages, too! This of course led to bigger and better things like a mutli-state week-long roadtrip just last month!
2. How do you two normally communicate?
Kaelah: Like I said above, it started with comments, emails and tweets, but we've got a pretty strong and steady iPhone text stream going! Anytime something awesome or hilarious happens, she's one of the very first people I text. We also have epic Twitter conversations and I'm sure that clogs up anyone's feed if they follow the both of us (oops!). We've talked on the phone once or twice, but probably just so we could both find each other for our meet-ups. We're both awkward and shy but we joke about FaceTiming, too! We're working our way up there!
Susannah: I'm so awkward on the phone, and I have such a weird schedule with work, I rarely choose to talk to anyone by telephone. We mostly text, tweet (too much, sorry everyone!!), and email. One day we WILL FaceTime, though, I'm determined to make that insanely awkward moment happen :)
3. Have you met in person? What was it like to meet that person face to face for the first time? If not, do you plan to?
Kaelah: I have! What a treat! After several months of online banter we decided to meet halfway between Chicago and Nashville (well, we thought it was halfway! Turns out they drove about twice as far as we did!) It was only a day trip so we were only able to hang out for a few hours but it was so worth it! We had a less-than-exciting trip to the Louisville Zoo followed up by some delicious pub food and chit chat. (The highlight post is HERE!) I was super nervous, as usual, because I swear I'm the most awkward person on the planet. We had never talked to Chris before so Mike, Susannah and I had built this online relationship with each other and then there was going to be this 4th person. I wasn't too worried about that because I was sure it would go just fine. I was more worried about looking like a total buffoon! After Chris shared a very interesting story with us, we were feeling right at home with the two of them. Our trip was a short one but I think we all could agree that we knew we'd be meeting up again!
Susannah: We met up in October of last year in Louisville, and recently took a road trip to Wilmington. Seriously, some of the most fun I've had in a long time! Before we actually met in person in Louisville, I was a little nervous. We had talked a lot at that point, but I was still kinda like "Is this really happening??". Chris and I got to the zoo first, and we were waiting on a bench for Kaelah and Mike to get there. We saw them drive up, and I got giddy, like a goofy little school girl! It was silly. They walked up, we hugged, and after that initial moment it just seemed normal. Like we'd met before and it was no big deal that we just drove 600 some miles to come visit them. I still feel kinda bad that I was a little out of it when we were at the zoo, part of it was because of nerves, but mostly it was because I hadn't eaten anything that day (literally, we got up at 5 am and had coffee, and I think we got together at around 2pm). But a little while later we ate dinner and had an awesome conversation (that we'll probably never forget), and I felt much better then!
4. How is your internet friendship different from friendships you have offline?
Susannah: I actually don't really have a whole bunch of friends. I've always been that way, really. Especially with girls (I know there's a lot of people out there who think something is wrong with women who don't have other female friends, but we aren't all bad!). I spent a lot of my formative years being raised by my dad, and I've never had an easy time relating to other women. And in general, I just have never had too many friends. Which is fine with me, I don't need a lot because the ones I have I am fiercely loyal to and love sincerely. So the friendship I have with Kaelah is kind of unique, mainly because she's a girl who isn't related to me who actually likes me, haha. You have to interact with a long distance friend differently, too. Like, I would love it if Kaelah and I could plan a little girl time on a whim, or if we could just go shopping together or grab coffee whenever we wanted. But since there's 600 miles between us, we have to find other ways to keep our friendship going. There's lots of emailing and texting, and I think because of the distance we're much more open to expressing our appreciation for each other. In my non-internet life I'm pretty shy, not nervous shy, but I'm not especially outgoing. But you kinda have to be when you want to make sure someone far away knows you care about them.
Kaelah: Most of my "offline" friendships are with people I've grown up with or gone to school with. Blogging has become such a huge part of my life that they really don't "get it"… well, that's not entirely true. Several of my close friends have taken up blogging but none of them really run with the same blogging circle (Does that sound as weird to read as it does to type?!). Susannah and I have very similar interests in blogs, people, activities, styles, etc. We have a very similar personality and often times it's like we're thinking the exact same thing. I can text or email her about almost anything and she can relate to me on some level. I feel like that is so invaluable in a friendship! I think the distance only adds to our friendship because it's so convenient to drop contact with someone who lives 600 miles away, but we manage to pull it off without a hitch! It's become so obvious to me that my friendship with Susannah is because I genuinely value her as a person and not just because it's convenient. I love that!
5. What drew you to the other person initially? What do you love most about them?
Susannah: Initially, I just thought Kaelah was the cutest girl in the world. How could you not?! She's adorable! But then I started reading her posts, and she was so amazingly positive that I started to realize that I could gain something from reading her blog. I was going through a transformation that coincided with finding her blog, and it was sort of eerie how I was starting to feel a certain way about myself and here was this girl, blogging the same things I was thinking. I have always been just a tiny bit timid in life, in all aspects, but she has this contagious confidence that rubbed off on me. I think at the point I was in my life, I was ready to become more confident, but reading her blog just sort of pushed me over that line and it came so easily. And I still love that about her, she's an amazing girl that I am proud to call my friend! Plus, we are totally on the same wavelength. We have very similar histories, and our interests are pretty much the same. We kind of have a weird amount of stuff in common, and it's so fun to figure out new stuff that we share! I still appreciate that she didn't let the fact that I was a small-time blogger in comparison to her affect our interaction. I'd always been under the impression (at that point, now I know different), that people with lots of followers didn't have time for people with less than them. I think I only had 30 or so followers when we started talking, but it didn't seem to faze her. It seems silly to have thought that was important, but I thought it reflected her character in a great way.
6. Do you have any other thoughts about the role the internet plays in building new relationships?
Kaelah: I think the internet is a great way to build lasting friendships because I feel like when it comes to blogging online you tend to be much more relaxed. You may not let all the information fly out of your fingertips and onto the world wide web, but you're less pressured to hold back your feelings about certain situations. You're more at ease to just be yourself. This obviously provides a great jumping off point for friendships because you can seek out people with similar interests and values. In my tiny hometown there's one sole person I can stand. Obviously you have to be friends with people because it's convenient (I know you're shaking your head at me but it's true to some extent for everyone.) You lose touch with those people after high school or college because you realize that they weren't really bringing anything valuable to the table. When you meet people online you really have nothing to lose. If you don't really care for that person, stop tweeting them! There's really no awkward passes in the hall or anything! You're more inclined to build lasting friendships with people that really add something to the relationship. It also helps to have someone who is completely unbiased when you talk to them. Maybe a friend offline is frustrating you… You can talk to your "online friends" about it without them being tainted by the surroundings and assumptions about this person. I just think it's a healthy way to go about things. (I'm also really shy, like I've said fifteen times already, so if I can cut out the awkward "Oh hi, I'm Kaelah" nonsense them I'm all for it!) With that being said, 4 out of my 5 closest friends were all met online! These are people that I've been friends with since I was 14 and 15 years old! Yes, way back when MySpace and LiveJournal were popular! They live all over the country… California-turned-Oklahoma, Kansas, Baltimore, etc! I wouldn't trade them for the world! And the best part of it all… Susannah and Chris were there to witness (and take part in) Mike's proposal to me in Wilmington, North Carolina! I'm so tickled that they were there to be a part of that magical night and I'll never forget it. Susannah will also be one of my beautiful bridesmaids! So crazy to think that a few blog comments and emails could lead to having one of the very best friends and someone who I can't wait to celebrate the biggest day of my life with! All in just one year!
Susannah: I actually wasn't very interested in the internet until I went away to college. I lived at my dad's house until I was 20, and he still had dial-up, so I rarely used to internet :) But when I went away to school and had internet that didn't take forever to load, I was blown away! I started exploring what the internet had to offer, and I found a lot of stuff I liked. I remember being in high school and my friends were all on Myspace and talked about meeting people through it, and I thought it was just the weirdest thing. It seemed creepy and unsafe, and I could never imagine wanting to meet someone that I found online. Fast forward to now, and some of the most supportive people in my life are ones that I only know online. I think that if used in the right way, the internet can be an incredible way to meet people. I think that building a friendship with someone online, especially if you have a blog, sort of breaks down any defenses you'd have if you were to have met in person first. I put so much of myself in my blog, as does Kaelah, that I think people who read it already have a good idea of what kind of person I am. I always had this tentative-ness when I met people in real life, questioning whether they really liked me, or if they just didn't know enough about me yet to make a decision. With meeting people through my blog, there's no barriers. You guys know when I have a good day or a bad day, you know what I like and dislike, so all of the B.S. is out the window. You already know if you like someone or not through reading their blog. I appreciate that, it makes things much more simple, I think. I love so many people that I've met online, and while I haven't quite gotten to the point with most of them that I have with Kaelah, I'm certainly not opposed :)
So there you have it! I'm really excited about Connections, and I hope you guys enjoy it. With that said, I need your help! Have you met someone through the internet that has become a true friend? Would you like to participate in Connections and share your thoughts about the development of your friendship and the role the internet played in it? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Connections, and I'd love to feature you and your friend in an upcoming post!