Internet Friendships to Real Life Connections

We all can agree that making new friends is hard and scary, but making them as a socially awkward, hot mess moms is even more of a set back. Sometimes it causes so much fear that going through this parenting battle alone is easier. But you know what? Parenting doesn’t have to be lonely!

I am actually proof that there is a light at the end of the lonely-PPD-can’t-be-in-social-situations tunnel. It had been about a week since I had left my apartment when my husband asked me when the last time I had gone outside was. The isolation of motherhood had taken over. It was just easier to disappear into that tiny apartment.

I turned to the internet. Found comfort in Facebook. I started becoming active in some great local moms groups. Luckily, there are so many great ones that can offer a different type of support. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone and found groups with similar parenting styles, beliefs, hobbies, and interests. I started clicking with people. These online relationships grew. But I desperately missed the realness of people.

I decided to take the plunge and attend a local story time. Pumping myself up to say hello to someone and connect. It’s took about six times attending before I even had the courage to stumble and stutter out an awkward hello. The ladies all seemed lovely, but they also all seemed to already know each other. I gave up. 

Pregnant again and in a new city,  I knew that I couldn’t go through parenting two without friends. I was dying to make connections. One of the hardest hurdles of the finding a village process is the in person friend dating stage. So I had this crazy idea to start a Facebook group, but instead of focusing only on the online discussion, I wanted to create opportunities to actually meet the people in real life. So with three events planned, my group was made.

It was scary as hell. Committing to going to an event not knowing anyone. Saying hello. All the excuses about backing out. But I didn’t, I showed up. I said hello. I friended on Facebook and made plans. Soon we were doing all of the things together. Then this village thing naturally fell into place. The best part is that it’s constantly evolving and growing. Real friendship. Togetherness. Community.

Nothing can take away the natural feelings we all have of putting ourselves out there. We all have this inner battle of emotions that we are too socially awkward to fit in. We all feel nervous walking up to a group of people that you think will automatically exclude you because you’re new. Being a part of  a large online group of parents, I have witnessed that we ALL have this in common. It’s raw. But we all share this feeling, and there are some ways to make this better.

From my professional (can you have a professional stance from a Facebook group?) experience here are some tips to help you take those online relationships to real life friendships.

  1. You’re not alone!
    One of the most important things. Remember you are not the only one with your feelings of fear, anxiety and social awkwardness. I swear to you everyone had or is having these same feelings. We are together on this part and it’s comforting knowing you’re not alone.
  2. Be active!
    We’ve got such a great advantage of being online friends first. You can get those awkward  ice breakers out of the way. You can virtually meet and screen potential BFFs. It’s such a great tool.  Participate in positive conversations. Reply to people. Share your stories. GAs you “meet” people you connect with online take the next step.
  3. Initiate!
    A harder step. Find a cool event. Or create a meet-up somewhere if you cant find something that interests you. Both are easy to do here in KC with so many best of guides, publications and groups. There are no shortage of activities. Check your local groups event calendars, look at your favorite business’s events, check your community’s upcoming calendar. 
  4. GO
    Click going. And GO! This is the biggest trick I’ve discovered in creating events. Be active in the event discussion. Introduce yourself and say you’re excited to meet everyone and share the experience you’re participating in. Invite others who you feel might be interested or you’ve been wanting to meet. Then the day of the event, post a current selfie and say hi so everyone knows what you look like that day. Let others know where you will be or an easy way to spot you.
  5. Breath
    You’re finally there. Meeting up with these people you’ve been courting. Take a deep breath before you get out of the car. Pep talk. Mantra. You’ve got this. Remember you’re not the only one feeling like this. When you introduce yourself make sure to let others know how to pronounce your Facebook name, then let everyone know if you go by something else. Say hi! Repeat names back. Use the kids as distraction if you need a breath. But, jump back in the conversation.
  6.  Follow through.
    After the meet-up, follow up with some messages. Friend them on Facebook if you haven’t. Invite them to other events. Stay connected as internet friends and the real life connections will naturally fall into place as you meet people you want to get into a serious relationship with.

I cannot say it enough. Do not give up! Keep going. It gets easier. I’ve tried lots of methods. I’ve been on countless, awkward meet-ups. I’ve left crying. But I didn’t give up. I found my people.

Parenting is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Remember that it might not click right away. Sometimes you’ll have to go to a few meet-ups before making real connections. But keep trying. Take advantage of this internet-based life we have to meet people, but do not be afraid to take those internet friendships to real life connections.

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