I love being alone. When I’ve been around people too much I start craving my house and the silence I know waits for me there. When I have a free weekend I make it my goal to stay home as long as possible and not make any plans.
However, I’ve noticed when I spend too much time alone I get… hermity. Anti-social. Growly. And I know it’s time to go out in public again.
So while I love being alone there is such a thing as too much alone time. I need to be around others and I need to be engaged and a vital part of my community.
In the past few years, I’ve also noticed I need others in my work life, not just my social life. Even though I’m a writer and most of what I do is worked out in my head, transferred to a notebook, and logged into a computer. And I don’t just need people for help with editing, networking, and troubleshooting computer issues. I need them so I can succeed as a writer.
I have a wonderful, supportive network. But when writing troubles came up I realized I lacked someone to commiserate with. At my job, I was the only writer. In my friendship circle, I was the only writer. In my family, I was the only writer. Who could I turn to for writing advice? Who would understand when I brought up a struggle I was having? Where could I find a mentor to help guide my career?
Once I started looking for writer friends it was easy to find them. I’d search the local paper for writer-type events and then go to them, even though it was out of my comfort zone and meant I had to talk to strangers. After I started meeting other writers I learned about professional associations and formal networking events. So I joined those groups and attended those events. And after a while, I started volunteering. Through volunteering, I met more people and now I can say with confidence my network is a strong balance of friends, family, co-workers, and colleagues.
Because of how important informal mentorship has been in my career trajectory I’m now aware of what I can do to help new writers get on the right path. And I love it! It puts me in front of people a lot more than I’d like but it makes me feel like I’m making a difference. And it keeps me from becoming a cat lady.
If you’re missing community in your life please consider finding one. Search for local meetups, networking events, or professional associations in your industry. Go out of your comfort zone and try and make connections. It may not happen right away, and it might take a few tries before you find somewhere you fit, but once you find your tribe you will be better for it.