Or clubs of any type really. The important thing is that we have clubs and communities where we can belong. And I'm talking old fashioned, face to face meet ups where you can see, feel, and emote with other humans. Social media has created this entirely other universe where we can connect, grow and yes, even create a community. And while this is great, hell, as a freelancer who works from home, if I didn't have my online community, some days I would feel incredibly lonely (cuddles with Kingsley aside).
But I read this incredibly interesting article from Buzzfeed News this week: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. While it's a bit of a longer read than we millennials are used to these days (it's not a perfectly packaged video that fits into the 60 second time limit of Instagram? Or three paragraphs under a cute photo in your feed? Let's be honest, sometimes even those feel too long to sit through), it had sound bite after sound bite that I couldn't stop reading. It was all so real and true. And what's even more, I was just trying to vocalize similar feelings to friends and family recently.
I have a great recurring gig that pays my bills, feeds me, and allows me to put money away every month, with the freedom to take on clients here and there with interesting jobs or brands I want to align with too. I have time to do my own writing, like my novel, A Week at the Woods' or manage and work on this blog. I'm able to do all this from the comfort of my home. I don't battle traffic, or have to sit on a crowded train to get to work. If I wanted to, I could work in my underwear, leave my hair unwashed for days (seriously, how many days in a row is it socially acceptable to use dry shampoo? Asking for a friend!), and never leave my home.
But that's just not how I work for a number of reasons. But one is that I'm quite a social person - years of office life filled with travel and event networking mean it's just part of who I am. And two, the pressures of the online world, or the millennials who do it all, can get to you a lot more if you choose to go it alone. I've actually found that the more my online and home office life grows, the more lonely it can become. When I open Instagram, I'm rarely scrolling through friends feeds to like their cute photos, I'm trawling for content, or sharing likes and spreading brand awareness. I have six different Instagram accounts I run and manage. SIX. When I open IG, more often than not, it's a cause of anxiety. Facebook is just the same - I manage seven pages on FB. Do you know how many notifications I get in a day? For someone with borderline OCD, seeing constant notifications on my lock screen makes me want to run for the hills some days. But it also forms the bulk of my business and is something that I love doing and is what keeps me going. It's just a side effect of the world we live in.
It helps to remember that there is an entire world outside of online that was always there. Like when we were kids (yes Millenials...before we had cell phones, or at best, the Nokia 6310 with changeable face plate), and we could just pop over to a friend's house for a visit. We'd knock on their door and hang out, or as we got older and needed an escape from university or work stress, head over for a glass of wine or coffee for casual conversation, and more importantly, connection. This doesn't happen anymore. If you haven't texted me to tell me you're coming over, and I hear the doorbell ring, I ain't answering the door. And I know I'm not alone here!
I had some girlfriends over last weekend for book club. It was my birthday weekend and I was so happy to have these amazing friends of mine over to help celebrate, while it may not always be about books, it's what initially brought us together and let these friendships grow. And the way this club came about? When I first moved back to Ottawa, aside from a handful of very close friends I kept in touch with since moving away almost 10 years ago, I had to start meeting people all over again. Do you know how hard that is when you work from home?! So I joined Bumble BFF (hey, it helped me meet my boyfriend, why not some girlfriends?), met a bunch of fantastic ladies, and after a Bumble BFF double date with a few (totally adorable right?) we started a book club. And this, this regular connection with peers is what I was so missing.
When I first moved to London, I had a look online at meetup.com (before there was an app for that!) and found The Girly Book Club hosted by the lovely Erin Woodward (and BFF of a hometown friend of my sister's back in Canada!) Being able to connect in these ways makes us all feel a bit more human and bit more connected to the real world around us. So those days when we feel like we haven't been "offline" work at all, or the stress and anxiety of living and working in today's landscape of constant notification, it helps to have a safety net to catch us.
As we head into winter here in Canada, I'm wanting to get cozy and hibernate but I'm also wanting to try new things that keep me cultivating those real connections. Every year I try to select a few things that I know will push me out of my comfort zone but that also help to connect to new people, new things, new hobbies. And with that comes so much more than growth.
How about you? How do you stay sane in an online world? Do you have any clubs or hobbies you would recommend trying? I'd love to hear from you!