Finding my tribe

April 18, 2016

finding-my-tribeFew terms are as over-used as finding my tribe, but one of the most interesting side-effects of technology, the internet in particular, is the ease with which we are able to find our tribe, sometimes globally.

Remember AOL chat rooms? Back in those very early days of the internet, there was a chat room for every interest. EVERY interest. Chat rooms provided a veil of anonymity and with that came the ability to be ourselves, without fear. After all, we’d never meet these people in person, right?

Thank you, AOL!

As it turns out, two of my very closest friends and confidantes date back 20 years to AOL chat rooms, where we connected over words, attitudes, ideas and shared interests. In fact, we HAVE met in real life and have been able to stay intimates for two decades. The power of the internet.

I’m not great at cocktail party small talk –it bores me. No, I much prefer the meaty, meaningful conversations about the things that really matter to me, to others. And that’s what technology has given us: the ability to come together as ourselves, with no filter. I really do think that’s the only way a true friendship can form.

I follow so many woman bloggers midlife and older. I read their blog posts, converse with them on Facebook and have gotten to know them over the years through their words. They share their hearts, souls, attitudes, politics, laughter—they had in fact, become intimates that I’d not yet met in person.

That changed recently at a midlife women bloggers’ conference, where I got to meet women who had only been words on a screen. The experience did not disappoint.

I’m not starry-eyed about technology, but:

I found my tribe.

There’s Nancy, who I first met years ago at another blog conference, who did a spot-on Patty Smith impersonation, “Horses! Horses! Horses!” for me. Somehow she knew I’d get it. She knew that because she reads what I write. And I read what she writes.

Donna, my sister who’s different but the same, and who’s become a dear friend across the internet and now, in person.

There’s Elena, who started a Facebook blog group that I love. And Anna, with whom I’ve had shared the real stuff of life. And Kimberly, who markets the planner I love and use every day and who is one of the few with greater wanderlust than I.

There’s Kathy, with whom I share a spiritual bent and Jennifer, who sat in the pub with me and talked about life. There’s Pamela, who has inspired one of my dearest real-life friends, too. Elaine, who edited an anthology that one of my blog posts is in. There’s Joan, Walker, Anna, T.O., Lynne, Roxanne, Terri—and so very many, more. Many.

These very real connections with women so different than I and yet, so simpatico, were forged in the ether and cemented when we met in person. I knew them before I met them in person. I KNEW them.

This coming together as ourselves, no filter, is something so many of us are afraid to do in person. So often we tiptoe around, not sure if we can trust the other with who we really are, fearing rejection—which is far more difficult to handle than the fading away of an online friend.

Here’s the other thing. By the time we hit and then pass mid-life, we no longer see each other as competition. For anything. It’s so much easier to embrace one another. I found virtually every single woman I talked with at the conference–those names on a screen– to be warm, welcoming and just plain nice.

I’ve never been starry-eyed about technology. I still think social media can be a total waste of time if over-used and that technology has been as big a curse as a blessing.

But the one thing I do appreciate about it is that it’s helped me feel less alone.

It’s helped me find my tribe, and that’s no small thing.

69 comments on “Finding my tribe
  1. Happy to read about your tribe and the joy it’s brought to you. In midlife it’s more important than ever.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to your online friends. You’re spot on about the meaningful dialogue and relationships that can take place in the blogosphere. Although I wouldn’t say I’ve found my tribe (I’m 48 and just started a blog in 2015 to reconnect with my own voice), I have connected with some truly amazing people.

  3. Joan Stommen says:

    Beautifully said, Carol! I felt like I was seeing an old friend when we met…YOU were warm and welcoming and exactly how I knew your personality, humor, interests, likes and dislikes! Thanks for being an important part of my tribe! You give good hugs, good dance and you get me!!!

  4. Carolann says:

    Yes, you are exactly right. The internet and social media have allowed us to connect in ways we never thought possible. I’m happy that you had such a great time and connected in person with your tribe. These are exciting times for sure!

  5. Carol, I’m so happy we met and shared laughs and conversation. You’re still the cool kid.

  6. Donna Hanton says:

    Glad that you had such a wonderful time. Would have loved to be there to meet you, and all the other awesome ladies. Next year…!

  7. There’s never enough time at these events for all the one-on-one time you’d like to have, but I SO enjoyed getting to connect with you for those moments we did share. I’m delighted to be part of your tribe (and sorry to have missed the “woo woo” session!).

  8. It was so much fun to meet you in person, Carol! Thank you for the encouragement and for sharing your wit and wisdom with us…so glad you were there!

  9. Anna Palmer says:

    Yes! The real stuff of life. I love this. I love you.

  10. Jennifer says:

    What a great group of women to call your tribe. I hope to meet all of them, and you, in person one day!

  11. Barbara says:

    Nothing beats the ‘in real life’ experience, especially after you’ve been following and connecting with someone you respect and admire very much. It was such a pleasure to meet you and share in the ‘woo woo’ session, Carol. I believe we’ll meet again.

  12. This was so much fun! And yes,we will.

  13. I’m so glad the conference was amazing. After my big trip and adding a puppy to the family, there was no way I could make it. I’m planning to be there with this amazing group of women next year. All of you inspire me!!

  14. Jnaie EMaus says:

    It was so great seeing you. So many people. So little time.

  15. Andrea Bates says:

    What a lovely post, Carol. Thank you for sharing it.

    I’m glad we got to meet face-to-face and hope that next year we get to spend more time together chatting and connecting.

    I’m so glad you had such an incredible experience.

  16. kymberly says:

    How Did My Sister AND I Miss you? And we were actively looking…. dang.

  17. Haralee says:

    I have been following the pictures and the conference sounded like a true success. Your post is a great enforcement!

  18. GAry says:

    Glad you and all my other blogging buddies in Vegas got home safely with memories and unmentions :). Blogger world is like this secret tribe we all are apart of that non-bloggers can’t begin to understand.

  19. Hi Carol! It’s awesome being in your tribe! With so much going on I didn’t get the chance to sit down and talk with you nearly as much as I wanted to, but I just KNEW from all that I’ve read on your blog that you and I were connected by so much more than just the internet. While I can’t even imagine who to do a past life regression online….if it’s possible we will do it hahahaha! And I’m already looking forward to the next time our paths cross in person. Until then, keep sharing your heart, mind and soul as much as you do! ~Kathy

  20. I will be there next year! It looked amazing!

  21. I too love my tribe of midlife women bloggers. I’m sorry I was unable to attend BAM and meet you IRL. But I do know we’ll eventually meet.

  22. Laurie Oien says:

    I have to say this is one helluva tribe and sorry I missed out on such a fun event. The pictures posted looked like it was a special time. It truly seems everyone is very supportive of one another and such a great group of gals.

  23. Ellen Dolgen says:

    How wonderful that you met the faces of the words that you hold dear. That is special, indeed!

  24. Glenda says:

    Yes, we found our tribe. My sentiments exactly.

  25. lawrence says:

    Awesome story. The idea of meeting people and bonding beyond a chat room or a PM is awesome.You guys have developed awesome friendships. I wish enjoyment, happiness and laughter for all of you in the tribe!

  26. I love the phrase “Find or Found my Tribe”. It is a much more fitting term than just calling your closes confidantes your friends.

  27. Nancy Hill says:

    I didn’t even have to think about it, I knew you would get it, because you get me. I thank my lucky stars and the great organizing principle in the sky that our kindred group has connected with words and hearts! Love to you Girlfriend!

  28. Tamara says:

    Sad that we didn’t get a chance to connect. Looks like I should have joined that early morning cab-ride to the airport!

  29. Carol, this brought tears to my eyes because I felt like I met a huge group of celebrities, wonderful women whom I admire and “see” every day online. This was such an eloquent post and you put into words what we are all feeling! When I walked into the pub that first night, you were the first person I recognized (from photos). Then meeting everyone else and just connecting face-to-face, well, it’s was amazing. Sorry for gushing, but we can easily get so wrapped up in our lives that connecting in person is mostly last in line. I was truly inspired and I like chatting in person because I talk waaaay faster than I type 🙂

  30. So sorry I missed it this year:(. Last year went by so fast, I hardly had time to make new friends. But it definitely began my tribe. Can’t wait till next year when I can soak up so many more of you great women. In the meantime, we get to keep enjoying each other thru our posts!!

  31. I hate that I missed it this year, but I am making plans to attend last year. I was at the first one and it was an unbelievable experience. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself and then your on the road again in a few weeks. Busy, busy woman!

  32. Lana says:

    It made my day to meet you. You’re just as wonderful as I knew you would be!

  33. Meeting you IRL was definitely a hilight for me. You are fabulous and the woo woo session was so much fun. We absolutely need to do an anthology.

  34. It was wonderful to finally meet you in person. I’ve been reading your posts for a while. What a wonderful group of women to collaborate with.

  35. Tara Berries says:

    Wow, what a great group of women! I have my tribe in real life but I am still looking for my virtual tribe. Great post!

  36. Sara Broers says:

    So nice to connect in real life, even though it was a short time! Community is wonderful and BAM proved that, once again!

  37. Lisa Froman says:

    I bet it was awesome to meet so many of the midlife tribe at BAM. So many greet gals, including you!

  38. Rosemond says:

    completely agree. It wasn’t until I found this tribe of midlife women did I begin to feel that my voice and site “belonged”. I’m members of an LA based blogging group that is mainly 20 somethings. Wonderful but not my tribe!

  39. Can I confess to being jealous, Carol?
    I’m so happy for all of you and as I realized that I know and read almost every single one of the ladies you mentioned. The internet and it’s power to bring like-minded people together never ceases to amaze me!

  40. Nicole Escat says:

    Worth and enjoyed reading this. Great post. Glad you shared it. Thanks!

  41. Tamuria says:

    Social media platforms can be a colossal pain but finding your tribe is the true gold within them. Being able to connect with people you may never have had the chance to know is truly a gift. I can’t say I’ve found my tribe just yet, but I am making some wonderful friends.

  42. Pat says:

    I have been blown away by the power of community created by the creative and talented women on the boulevard. I am grateful to be connected across the miles and only hope to meet in person one day.

  43. What a sweet story! I’m so glad you found your “tribe.” I’ve met many people who mean a lot to me through the internet over the years—most of all, MY HUSBAND! Thank you for sharing your story. It was a lovely read!

  44. Kim Acedo says:

    So great to see you again, Carol! See you again next year!

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  1. […] speakers and the sponsors were the writers themselves. I would tell you all about my new tribe, but Carol already did. On the first night I met Heather who lives twenty minutes from me and writes at […]

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