8.21.2012

Where's My Tribe?

{ Image source: Julian Fong on Flickr }
It's a little past midnight and once again, I can't sleep.

I've been having this problem lately--either I can't go to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake for hours, or I wake up at OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S WHATEVER TIME IT IS o'clock. Apparently, these are called "onset," "middle," and "terminal" insomnia, respectively. If I could pick one and stick with it, I might be fine, but since it seems to change EVERY DAMN NIGHT, well, I'm generally tired.

For the past few years, I've been blaming it the fact that I am naturally a night owl and the kids, bless them, are not. Now, I'm not so sure--they've learned to let Mama alone in the mornings and go watch TV until she rolls her ass out of bed. Some days, this doesn't happen until (gasp!) 9:00am because they've gotten so good at being quiet and entertaining themselves until I can get my caffeine drip going.

The culprit tonight was that I made the mistake of browsing over to Michael Ellsberg's blog. One link led to another until I realized that I was back at The Blog of Tim Ferriss (damn, that guy is everywhere!) reading what is tantamount to an excerpt from The Education of Millionaires. I remember being stricken when I read this information the first time through, but this time, it got me thinking.

The part that stood out to me, specifically, was Step 3: Learn the Basics of Good Networking. I didn't watch the video (mainly because my husband was already trying to go to sleep), but I did click through to the article on Forbes.com outlining how to build your community of bas-asses (referred to there as "social economy"). In it, Ellsberg summarizes his method of building his community. It's earth-shattering, truly: spend time helping other people without expecting anything in return.

Come ON. This nugget of wisdom has been passed down through the ages. Every Abrahamic religion has some form of it in its holy book, and I would venture to say that most other known and unknown religions have a form of it too. And yet, this is insightful and genius. If you want shit from people, give it to them first!

I used to be really, really good at this. I mean, I greased skids and palms like it was nobody's business to get things done quickly, efficiently, and painlessly. To this day, people still call me up and ask me if I know someone who knows someone who can do something because they need an expert. And truthfully, I generally do know someone. Or, at least, someone who knows someone.

Unfortunately for me, my life has changed a lot in the past eight years, and I don't know people anymore. Of course, yes, I know people, but I don't know the people I need to know to make things happen in my bubble. I made a major shift from the single life and military service to stay-at-home mommy-hood and freelance journalism with a dash of struggling novelist. In the realm in which I would like to succeed, I don't know anyone.

I know that my community, my tribe, can be built. I do it every time I take my kids to the mosquito-infested toddler playground. I do it every time I go to a conference. (You know, like that ONE TIME that I went.) But right now, I'm straddling this line between domestic goddess and burgeoning author, and my best bet is to build my community online, through social media.

Can I tell you a secret? I hate social media.

It's not so much that I hate it, per se, I just hate that there's a record of who you are and who you were. I hate that people that you purposely tried to forget can come back and pluck you out of the ether. I hate that as much as you try to forge a way forward, there's always someone around to drag you back.

One of the things that I've personally struggled with is that I come from a math-and-science background and have had military training. In both instances, people are not creative. They are logical and follow formulae, whether they work or not. (Which, I suppose, makes them illogical?) Now that I'm working my way into the creative realm, people are just ... freer. They're more willing to dream, to take risks, to lay it all out on the line, even if it's bordering on the ludicrous. And when I try to follow that path, there's always the voice in my head screaming, "What are you doing? Why are you spending your time pounding keys when you should be in a lab or vault somewhere?" There is also the other, just as insistent, question of, "How can you expect to be a good mother when you used to [fill in the blank--use your imagination]?!"

Most of it is just me, I think--they're my fears, my insecurities, my battles. But they're still there, and they often cause me to want to wipe what I've done and start over.

That's where I am right now, again. I want to wipe my blog, my social footprint, everything, and start over. I already deleted my Facebook page, and I'm seriously considering doing the same with Twitter. I want to start up again, slowly, and work my way back along the path of my choosing.

Of course, starting over means that I have to start over. No friends, no followers, no pictures, nothing. But I have to wonder if it's worth it if it means that I can truly be who I am today, not who I was ten years ago. If it means that I can build my tribe the right way.

Food for thought. Care to weigh in?

6 comments:

  1. I totally get the need to wipe the slate and start over. Done it a few times, doing now with respect to my blog. Selfishly, I hope you stay on the twitter, because I dig 140-character drive-bys.

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    1. Oh, both sites will likely remain part of my routine, but as a Brand New Blogger.

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  2. I'm so glad you're back to blogging! I've missed you!

    Before you wipe the slate clean, take a look around and see if there's anything you're doing that works as it is. Then you can use those pieces as your foundation for the new you! No need to completely re-invent the wheel if you don't have to.

    Someone very wise once told me not to make any big decisions when I'm tired. She was absolutely right. Get some good, quality sleep and then see if you feel the same way. If you do, it's probably the right thing.

    Good luck, and I'm here if you need anything!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad to be back.

      And yep, if that's the answer, then this is definitely the right thing. I woke up this morning and started working on a new site. I'm actually pretty excited about it ... so we'll see what happens!

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  3. Can't sleep either and glad I couldn't because I got around to reading the blog's on my blog list.
    "I do it every time I take my kids to the mosquito-infested toddler playground. I do it every time I go to a conference. (You know, like that ONE TIME that I went.) But right now, I'm straddling this line between domestic goddess and burgeoning author, and my best bet is to build my community online, through social media." SO FUNNY, so true.
    I hear you. (not to be confused with I SEE YOU-Avatar). I get those wipe the slate clean too, but it's usually because I'm tired,stressed. After a few days of unplugging I'm okay again.

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    1. I envy that. By the time I realize that I want to wipe the slate clean - a true tabula rasa - I'm so fed up with everything that no amount of unplugging or napping will change my mind. In fact, it generally happens the other way around - if I am away from my blog, etc., too long, I start to find major faults and kick it to the curb!

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