Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Benefits Of A Support Net

I met a lovely girl today. Her name is Nicola and I found her while reading an Etsy forum were people based in Manchester hang out. She was asking if somebody would want to join her and do some craft fairs around here and I jumped at the opportunity. Not only because of how useful it is to have someone to share a stall with (you don't appreciate toilet breaks until you're doing a fair alone and you have to enthusiastically talk to a potential customer while you're breaking down in cold sweats), but because I know how important it is to have like minded people around that understand why you're doing what you're doing and make you feel as if, perhaps, you're not actually crazy.

Being someone that doesn't feel quite cut out for corporate life but doesn't relish the idea of living in a van by the river either, I've met people on both sides of the spectrum. People that love the cubicle culture, that are pretty happy crunching numbers, making a lot of money and playing golf with the director of the company on the weekends on one side, and people whose main life goal consists of selling bracelets in Ibiza and despise you a little bit because “it’s not about the money, man” on the other.

I’m not judging either of them. I mean, if they’re happy, I’m happy. I just find it hard to relate, and I know I can’t talk about my plans and goals with them because they not only won’t be able to relate either, but will probably try and find faults in them and I rather use my energy elsewhere, rather than trying to explain why I chose to do what I do.

I’m quite lucky, to be honest. I have a lot of very supportive friends who think that what I’m doing is groovy, but I’m also aware that it’s not easy to meet new people – especially people with similar interests - once you’re past natural friendship breeding grounds like university. So, when someone shows up and I feel like we’re in a similar wavelength, I latch onto them like a barnacle to a ship.

I met Nicola for a coffee in town and she showed up with an entourage consisting of two friends and a boyfriend. They were all lovely and funny and interesting, and I’ll be happy to meet them again. I always like meeting new people, especially the ones that don’t even raise an eyebrow when I tell them I’m planning to attempt to churn my own butter this weekend, and as a bonus I now have a lovely stall mate for my future craft fairs.

And it made me think of the importance of having that support net. For all of you that might feel like you’re too busy with your day job, your crafts, your blog, your side business, your training for a marathon or whatever it is you devote your efforts to, and don’t have time to go out and meet some like minded people, think about it. It can get pretty overwhelming and lonely when you don’t have anyone to share your successes and failures with, someone who doesn’t need explaining why you want to quite your safe job with the fancy title and steady pay check, who encourages you when your last project goes to pot and gives you some words of wisdom when you’re feeling a bit blocked. Similarly, it will feel great when you can do the same for them.

So get out there, join some forums, read and comment in some blogs, make some twitter friends, post an ad in your local coffee place, join a knitting group (or start one!). Start with something small, and once you get started, it will get easier. You might meet some strange people, but eventually you’ll meet someone who knows exactly why you’re saying why you’re saying, and when you do, remember, latch onto them. You’ll be glad to have them around when you are celebrating your 100th sale or wailing in despair because your last creation has made it to the Regretsy front page.

Plus, if everything else fails, at least you’ll have some company in that van by the river.

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