I thought for Valentine’s Day I would share the story of how I fell into the wonderful world of IGGPPC. I’ve been an Iggle for about 7 months, so not a long time. I joined in late July/early August of 2015.
And this is my story…
In late 2014 early 2015 my mom was diagnosed with Cancer. At that time I was in the middle of my second semester as a full time graphic design student, previously I had been seeking photography as my major with graphic design as a minor, I just switched the two. I am in my junior year of College at The Art Institute of Portland, located in the heart of pearl district in Portland, Oregon. I loved my school and program, I felt I was learning a ton and it was challenging my creative juices. But when I got that news, that my mom was sick, I dropped everything. I withdrew from my classes and made a game plan to move home.
I live with my boyfriend who was having a hard time finding a job so in someways moving home was the best thing we could do, because he now works for my family with full time hours. We moved back to my hometown and went to work for my parents who own a certified organic berry farm. I took my mom to all her doctors appointments, and took care of her as much as I could. Cancer took up most of 2015 for us, and in caring for my mother I took on a lot of her work responsibilities so she could relax and have an easier time. In doing that I ended up cutting myself off from a lot of my friends in real life, I’ve always had a few friends who I keep up with through long distant means, such as email and skyping, but even those relationships suffered.
By late July we were in the middle of the biggest harvest we have had, the farm produced a record high of fruit (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries). Which meant we had even more work than normal, and I was feeling very trapped. Working day in and day out with your family takes a toll, I love them, but good lord sometimes I need a break! I was also feeling lonely, and had a desire for acceptance.
I have always hidden my geeky/nerd side because I was fearful of being labeled a loser, and all those other unkind things that go along with stereotypes. One of the reasons my fear was so large was because of all the bulling I experienced when I was a child. So in high school it was easier to hide a small part of myself, than risk being labeled a loser. When I met my boyfriend in college that changed. He’s loves Star Wars, WoW, Halo, CoD, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, all that good nerdy stuff. And he accepted, and praised me for liking the same things.
So that opened the door for me to seek others who have similar interests. In 2014 I found some online communities in games I liked to play that I could relate to but they were all bros, like dude friends are the best but by July of 2015 I wanted some girls who were into the same stuff as me. I wanted to know that I was not an anomaly.
So late on July night after work, I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed, when I saw some gorgeous handwriting and that got me thinking about how handwriting is becoming a forgotten art, and how letters are so beautiful and such a unique connection to have with another person. Then I typed into the search bar of Pinterest “Pen Pal” and a ton of stuff popped up, most were links to images of letters people had received, but there were a few places you could sign up for a pen pal. But I found after reading the abouts of these places that I didn’t fit, it just wouldn’t be for me.
Then I typed in “Geeky Pen Pal” and the first pin was for something called International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club. So I clicked. An explosion of purple and green lit up my screen as the home page quickly loaded. I read their about, and the FAQ’s, and their safety, I saw that people were sorted into houses, and just like that I signed up. The next step for me was to actually sign up for a round of their Pen Pals. That I found far more scary. Actually committing to meeting a stranger. All the while thinking about how they might not like me, or what if I said something to offend them, and how dry my sarcasm can be.
It took me a few days, I lurked on the site after work was done, looking through the forums and seeing the activities that were happening. They had a camp coming up soon, I loved going to camp in the summers, and this was all online, how convenient! I signed up for that and being a troop was super easy, then I signed up for the round of pen pals. When camp started I made a twitter account for the second time, (the first being when twitter became a “thing”) I had never really had a use for it since most of my friends were on Facebook. But that looked like a good way to interact with the community I was trying out.
When camp started I was prepared and ready, and it quickly consumed me. I was reading books, participating in watch alongs, doing crafts (which I never do, unless its school work). It was the best part of that summer for me. Talking, meeting, and interacting with such a loving, exciting, and fun community.
A few weeks later I got my first letter from my new Pen Pal. I was amazed at the stationary, it was so adorable; I remember thinking to myself “I have a lot to learn” but it seems like in no time, I’d acquired an admirable, humble collection of stationary, I also discovered washi tape, which my boyfriend does not understand at all, and he thinks I have a problem. But more importantly I acquired friendship, ones that have similar interest, and are open and accepting of my whole being and I of theirs.
We are all on a journey of self love, self acceptance, and self discovery. At times it’s hard, but with support, and love it becomes easier. IGGPPC is this amazing, special bubble of a place on a tiny island in the sea of the internet, but it’s the best place. Finding IGGPPC made a very difficult time in my life much more bearable. By mid September my mom was declared cancer free and life started returning to normal. But from the time I joined IGGPPC to when my mom was told she was healthy, everyone around me knew I was doing better, I was happier. I was happy to go to work, less stressed, I laughed more, and it was in part due to finding a balance of work and play, but also because I accepted part of myself I had been hiding for so long.
So my love affair with the IGGPPC community continues. And I continue to find new friendships, new connections, I’m even going to my first Geek Girl Brunch later this month, followed by a comic con (surprisingly I’ve actually been to cons before). I am so thankful I happened upon IGGPPC, and thankful to everyone I have met and now call a friend. ❤