Finding Your (Online) Group

Call it a tribe, squad, community, troop, or some other word for assemblage, finding a group where you fit can be a powerful thing. Facebook Groups make it easier than ever to find and join a group of people from all over the world who have a specific shared interest… and you don’t even have to do the awkward “show up at the group meeting place as a test to see if it’s a bunch of weirdos” thing.

Other people are the worst.

When I started writing again, I had so many things I wanted to talk about and ask questions about, but I didn’t have a lot of people in my “real life” to talk to about it. Don’t get me wrong; lots of people listened, because they love me… but I really wanted to find a group of people who were as excited about writing as I was.

I headed to my Facebook search box and discovered, among dozens of others writing groups, Women Writers, Women Books (http://booksbywomen.org), which is a nearly 11,000 member group of women who write. When I say that the are  the most encouraging people I’ve ever “met”, I’m not kidding.

The other day, I finished the manuscript for my novel, which I’ve been working on since the fall of 2015. After forcing my husband to jump up and down with me à la this scene from the TV show Scrubs

Celebratory Jump-Hug

… and then texting my sisters, who have been following along with my progress and encouraging me the whole way—

They actually responded the next morning, not at 1am.

… I headed over to the WWWB group and posted my news, where it promptly exploded with support.

Women are lovely.

I mean, seriously. You don’t have to read more than three or four of those to get the gist.

This isn’t an isolated thing. I had similar experiences with groups I found and joined for transracial adoption, post-adoption depression, graphic designers, freelance creatives, people who are strangely intrigued by Buzz Aldrin, and more. Not only do you have the benefit of people supporting you, but you also get to be part of the support for other people, which, honestly, can be just as rewarding.

Finding a group of people who can celebrate and commiserate with you, stand with you in solidarity, and provide advice and knowledge from experience can be the thing that pushes you to do something you have considered but are too nervous to try (for instance, submitting a query to potential agents, moving to a more diverse church for the benefit of your transracially adopted child, getting yourself help for depression, reminding a client that you are the expert when they are micromanaging, trying new accounting software for a small business, or finding the confidence to switch careers or go back to school).

I like the convenience of an online group; there are no club dues, no set meeting times, few expectations. Each group has its own personality and rules too, so you can search and try out different but similarly-focused groups until you find one that works for you, whether you are looking for quick tips, spirited debate, encouragement, lists of resources, topical conversation, Q&A, or something else.

When you are in a group of people who are “all in it together”, it’s easy to belong.

Now, go! Find your online (or in-person) group!