I was thinking how this next generation is living more solitary lives. But this social dissociation needs to be balanced out with community or our souls will die before we do.

Online Community was the gift that I gave myself long before the pandemic. But I think this is how many of us saved our sanity when the whole world ground to pandemic halt. Because in many ways, my online community has been the backbone for my mental health well before that.

Years ago, in a small Direct Message private chat parlor, I admitted that I was terrified to host a photo challenge to three women from within community. By being my witnesses, they gave me enough courage to continue through with my challenge hosting. I showed up knowing that at least three people in my community liked me enough to support me. For once, my low self-esteem didn’t prohibit me from getting support from my community. And I received because I asked.

I have mused for a while that there needs to be a course devoted to building self-esteem online through community making. Showing up day after day has a really positive effect on your life in any way it’s applied.

This was my story when I showed up on Instagram in 2014. I participated in and fell in love with my first Instagram Challenge, Susannah Conway’s April Love. And we’d all join back up together like migratory birds for the same challenges that we’d met one another through. Reconnecting and choosing kind words to say hello. Asking about one another.

And from there, another community was born called Tales with Friends. And I am still friends with many of these people still 8 years later. Through snail mails, we further developed friendships without ever hearing each other’s actual voices. Instead, we heard each other’s hearts.

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