Even as a person who majored in the English language through my post-secondary education, I’m still a little fuzzy on the term “ironic,” so I’m not sure if it’s ironic or not that, as a co-creator of a website known for having developed a strong, tight-knit and supportive community, I myself feel that I’m generally terrible at being part of a community. Ironic or not, it does entertain me in a somewhat depressing, emotionally self-flagellating kind of way. [Ed. note: This is, of course, the True Way of the English major.]
We get questions sent to the podcast all the time from people who don’t know how to insert themselves into our GWJ community. From the outside looking in, this group of online strangers seems so comfortably close that it can seem impenetrable. While we say, “Just dive in and you’ll find a place,” which is very often true, I’ve also seen people who I know are trying to take that advice and yet seem to at the same time immediately either come off as trying too hard, or too aggressively, or too meek and self-deprecating, or who just don’t come in with the right tone. When that happens, I think a lot of people immediately feel, “Oh no. That didn’t work at all.” And more often than not, we never hear from those people again.
I sympathize with those folks, because in an odd way I know what they feel like. I look at the community for this site that I’ve put so much passion, energy and effort into over the years, and realize from time to time that while I was focused on all that stuff, what I forgot to keep doing was being part of the community. And now, in a very weird but tangible way, I look at the GWJ community and think to myself, “Man, looks like they’re having fun. I wish I was part of that community!”