During this summer, I have been updating my LinkedIn profile, which is about as fun as it sounds. There is a variety of reasons for this, including adding some campaign management roles I have held in the last couple of years. Of course, there is an acknowledgement of this blog on there as well. That summary along with a couple of tweets this week got me thinking.
Typically, when I think about the blog, I think about the writing. There are thousands of posts on here now. Honestly, it is quite a body of work. Yes, some of them are lamer than others. (Not every post can be awesome. We know that. We accept that.) Yet, there are some that I’m proud of. That said, what Rhonda and I built here was more than a bunch of words and paragraphs about our opinions on a website. No, we tried to do more than that.
This past week, a few tweets directed our way caught my attention. The first one was from a friend of ours who acknowledged the meet-up we held in Las Vegas in 2016. She didn’t know anything about us but someone who saw her Duran shirt encouraged her to go. While she didn’t really know anyone in the fan community before then, now, she knows many. This led another person to mention a meet-up in Chicago in 2011. Still, someone else expressed desire to attend a convention, even a virtual one. All this reminded me that we used to do meet-ups and even planned a convention.
In thinking about those fan gatherings along with my unofficial summer project to better understand myself (HA!), I think I have figured out how I feel about them and why. Here’s the thing. If someone had to give one word to describe me and/or my skills, the first word that might come to mind is organized. I like to label myself as an organizer. It is something that I feel very confident in and with. Throughout my life, I have always been an organizer. Initially, it was with my books or music or even my clothes. I would love to take time to just put things in some sort of organized way. Later, I learned that I could do the same with classroom lesson plans in order to help students learn effectively. Lesson planning is not just about curriculum and classroom materials but also how to organize the students of your class in a way that would best help them meet the academic, behavioral and social/emotional goals. To this day, I enjoy the heck out of this part of teaching.
Later, I discovered that I could do the same thing when it comes to political organizing. I could develop a strategy and figure out how best to manage the volunteers I had working with me to win in a lot of instances. Again, I enjoy the puzzle about how to manage people and ideas best in order to get something done. This is something that feels good to me and makes me good about myself.
Unfortunately, that feeling of confidence has never been one that has carried over to my social life. In that area, I tend to do the opposite. I don’t lead but follow, typically. I’m always wary of doing something to turn people away from me and I jump to the worst case scenario. If someone stops talking to me or doesn’t talk to me very often, I’ll assume that I did or said something to offend them or because they have decided I’m annoying or not worth their time. Now, I recognize that this is likely not the case but emotionally it is a battle that I wage constantly. So what does this have to do with holding fan events? Simple. I wanted to organize fan events for two reasons. First, I wanted that same feeling of confidence that I got through other organizing. Second, I hoped that these events would help people like me who are not good in these types of settings.
Here’s the thing I realized when thinking about organizing fan events. I put all of my energy and thinking into what was needed for that happening to be successful. Never once did I think about what people there would think of me. I could take the lead, which would help me step away from insecure me to confident organizing me. It provided me a shield of sorts. Now, that said, I’m well aware that there were many in the community that didn’t like that we were holding these events for a variety of reasons that I don’t want to get into here. While that bothered me, I think confident me was able to smother those negatives because generally the events were successful. People were happy and had a good time, I think. This isn’t really different than what I experience teaching or campaigning. People have always criticized the work that I do and I have had to find a way to push that to the side to keep going. Part of what helps there is knowing or believing that what you are doing matters.
With teaching or campaigning, that belief that you are doing good is easy. It is obvious. Fan events are another matter entirely. That is harder to justify, especially when other fans criticize. When that happens, you feel like it is doing the exact opposite of what you hoped for. When we started doing these meet-ups, one of our big goals was to bring the fan community together. We thought that if fans got to meet and know each other, they would be happier being part of the community. They would be more like to spread that happiness to others and keep people involved. After all, one big goal was to keep the fun going. If people stopped going to shows, then would those shows keep happening? Probably not. If fans were happy and they kept going, then I could keep going to shows myself!
The other purpose was to help those fans that I could relate to. Remember me saying that I am not good, socially. There have been many a time in my life when I have wanted to be part of the crowd, to fit in and never knew how to even try. I thought if we had meet-ups and if I was a good host, then those fans like me would be able to get in the figurative door. After all, I wished many times over my life that people would have done that for me. Do I know if that worked for people who attended? Not really but I do like the idea of it.
Will we keep holding these meet-ups, assuming that we will have concerts again someday? I am not certain. I appreciate that many liked them and had fond memories of them as did I for all the reasons I mentioned before and one other significant reason. These fan gatherings meant that I got to work with Rhonda. To me, there is nothing better than planning something and having it go well with others. Throughout all of my different organizing, that has always been the case. Working together for a common goal is one of my absolute favorite things in all the world.
What do you think of meet-ups? Have they worked for you? Do you think they matter in fan communities like ours?