We call ourselves "The Fam <scorpion emoji, scorpion emoji>".
Probably only nine other people can say that they went camping with a bunch of strangers, and the tenth person would be me. It quickly became this giant fiasco when I realized two days before my random photography camping trip in Big Basin, that my camera wasn't working. I (and it) was a complete disaster. I figured that I'd just go camping, and then I could just snap photos on my iPhone during the photography part of the trip. I also decided to work earlier that day, and I just remember being on the phone with a friend the entire drive there complaining about how awkward and terrible this whole experience would be.
And yes, it started out just as awkward as I imagined it to be. I was a few hours late, and I still remember that terrifying feeling while I slowly walked up to the group of people already sitting together... laughing. Already bonded. It was like how I imagined the first day of high school to be - walking into the bustling cafeteria with that plastic tray trying to quickly find a table and friends. However, at Big Basin there was only ONE table, and only one group of friends to sit with. (Note: I never had to experience that because my middle school and high school were on the same campus.)
To many people's surprise, I've always identified myself as an introvert. Thus approaching that picnic table was one of the hardest things I've had to do in recent memory. One of those moments where half of your energy is spent willing yourself to go through the motions, and the other half just wants to go into self preservation mode. It's challenging for me to meet people in groups because I get stuck in my own mental game. I find myself honing in on how weird I am, and how I don't often feel like I fit in or should fit in. I often get stuck in this mental loop of self-criticism, and default to that this person (me) should just live in a cave.
I often have to remind myself that nothing is ever as bad as my imagination makes it out to be. Sure, I made a lot of bad and awkward jokes, and coined myself early on as the girl who arrived late who eats a ton of marshmallows (often the vegan ones). And often wakes up with goldfish crackers in her bed after eating them in her sleep. I also got a ton of bug bites very early on and had to excuse myself to deal with that before I looked like I had high school acne.
But until you stop focusing so much on yourself, can you start really connecting with other people. Start thinking that maybe the people around you are experiencing similar feelings of nervousness, and maybe they are relying on you to break the ice. They say that laughter makes individuals feel more at ease, and I think more receptive to ideas. That's often why people start off presentations with a joke - to break the tension and make people more mentally receptive to what they have to say. Laughing with other people makes you feel connected with them.
The trip was for two nights, and it was hard not to bond quickly over hilarious stories about raptors, making hobo packets for dinner, taking macro pictures of bugz, being surrounded and almost attacked by a hungry pack of raccoons, and everyone's spirit for adventure. In the end I was relieved to find myself in the company of nine other weirdos.
You randomly send the Fam this photo because it is freezing outside, and you're having a hard day and feeling kind of down.
You can't help but smile and feel connected and understood when the Fam hits you back with this.
So the better question is after a unique experience such as this, where is the Fam nine months later.
We've participated in the Cotopaxi Questival (24 hour scavenger hunt across San Francisco). Have had multiple mini-reunions, and micro-adventures. Monthly dinners (#oursharedmeal), DJ parties (@antik5), and way too many delicious too pretty to eat cookies (@killersconfectionery).
This has become the story of my life. The start of the magical light-up-tumbleweed moments, where you take a risk and find yourself surrounded by amazing people such as these. And don't worry, the Fam is slowly growing, and an adventure reunion too.