Great post from Maurice Broaddus, where he talks about the welcoming nature of the genre community. I think many of us could identify with this feeling:
The thing is, too much of our lives, and by “lives” I mean social traumas and scars, can be traced back to high school. We envision a cool kids tables, those kids who defined who was in and who was out. We live with this sense that there is a community that we’re being excluded from, that there are cliques not open spaces. That certain people can marshal people around them while you toil away alone, unwanted, and unappreciated, all of which touches on older wounds of feeling unloved.
This feeling of exclusion speaks to our longing for community. We want to connect, we want to be accepted. We want to be noticed by “them”: the successful, the cool, the people who are where we want to be. We lose sight of the people already in our lives and spheres who have been supporting us all along.
As I have mentioned more than once in my posts on conventions I have been to, I have been blown away by how welcoming I have found people in the Aussie spec fic scene. Many of them have known each other for years, if not decades, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a resistance to new faces coming into established cliques, but nothing could be further from the truth. Nor are the “big names” standoffish, on the contrary, they have been amongst the most friendly.
There really is a sense of being in this together, of wanting to share success with others, rather than hoarding achievements for oneself. People want to help others improve their craft and are willing to share whatever useful things they have come across, rather than hoarding them. There is no sense that people feel that if someone else does well it means less for everyone else, but instead there is the view that the better one person does the more opportunities it creates for everyone else.
I have never been good at joining new social circles or groups, in fact it makes me almost physically ill at times when I am faced with approaching a new set of people. Even when that initial barrier has been breached, I still struggle to feel part of things. That someone like myself has felt so welcomed speaks volumes for the way that new people are treated and is something that we should celebrate as a community.