Weirdly enough, I still remember stumbling across someone else's blog for the first time. I didn't know it then, but that discovery would change my life, how I communicate, and how I relate to other people forever.
It happened sometime in the early 2000's -- maybe 2002 or 2003. My ex-husband and I had just gotten a computer and Internet access, the very first experience with such things for either of us. He mostly used it to email his mother and download pirated music, but I had other ideas. I was far more interested in using the Internet to learn new things and possibly to connect to new people that actually thought like me or shared my interests.
As is the case with many people that don't feel like they relate to anyone else, one of my strongest interests at the time was music. Tori Amos was my absolute favorite artist back then, but I knew almost no one in my offline life that had even heard of her. Naturally, it made sense to me to use the Internet to seek out other Tori fans that were as obsessed with her music as I was. That's how I found this wonderful fan site called A Dent in the Tori Amos Net Universe (or "The Dent" for short). At first, I just came to The Dent to keep up on Tori-related news. Eventually though, I felt compelled to start contributing to it as well. I started submitting reviews of some of the concerts I'd gone to -- my first ever experience with sharing any of my writing online.
I also eventually became familiar with the couple that ran The Dent, Mike and Amanda. One day, I followed a link they had posted to their LiveJournal blogs and I was just fascinated by what I found, as I had legitimately never heard of blogging before. I'm not sure who I thought Mike and Amanda were prior to that, but I don't think I realized they were just a couple of ordinary people living ordinary lives just like mine. Yet here they both were, running a really popular site that had been acknowledged even by Tori herself and writing about their daily lives in virtual journals that never ran out of pages.
I found Amanda's blog especially interesting, as I related a lot to the way she thought. I also found the mere idea of LiveJournal incredibly appealing -- so much so that I eventually started a LiveJournal blog of my own and began to comment on some of Amanda's posts. When she invited me to "friend" her, she officially became my very first online friend. I'm happy to say that Amanda and I are still friends across multiple social networking platforms today.
My discovery of Amanda's blog, as well as the eventual decision to start blogging myself, literally changed my life and the way I viewed myself in relation to the rest of the world. Before that day, it had never occurred to me that anyone might care about the ordinary everyday thoughts of some small town girl that liked cheeseburgers, owned parakeets, and sold men's suits for a living. But here I was finding Amanda's life completely riveting despite the fact that she wasn't much different from me -- a UPS employee that loved roller coasters, looked forward to decorating her house for Christmas, and was crazy about Tori Amos music.
For the first time in my life, I could actually picture a world where my life, my thoughts, and my feelings actually mattered to other people despite the fact that I was really no one special. I realized that I didn't need to be as famous as Tori Amos for my thoughts to be worth sharing or for people to be interested in what I had to say. I could become part of the bigger picture in any way I wanted to any time I wanted to by telling my own story -- whatever that happened to be -- to whomever decided they cared to hear it.
Since then, I've made many friends online. I've shared countless writings and other creations with what potentially amounts to the entire world. I've explored more than one career path thanks to the Internet. I even met someone that was a much better fit for me than my milktoast ex-husband ever was. I grew into someone with a well-nurtured sense of self worth as a result of all of those things and although I don't think she realizes this, I owe all of that to Amanda.