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What the Google+ Community Gave Me

Update: I've started an inspirational video series about mental disabilities:

I was diagnosed with ADD at around the age of 6, I was immediately picked out by teachers as being the odd child, hard to instruct, easily distracted, and of course poor marks. With all of the commotion I early on felt that I was different from everyone. I was put into a different group of children in the classroom and always had special instructors to help me. Perhaps because of this, it lead up to me at one point, perhaps around the age of 8, express the wish to die, so I was put onto antidepressants. By the age of 10-13 I felt the desire to fit in with other people, but I was rejected, I was different and it pretty well became a game for the other children to taunt me. It got to the point where I was so afraid of them that they would make a slight jumping motion towards me just to make me flinch. By the time I was in high school at 14 I felt like I had to bury my life behind me, I immediately set out to have higher marks than all of the people who used to taunt me along with refusing any help regarding my problems and I succeeded. I also set out to challenge the hardest courses and that brought me into university under scholarships to study chemistry and biology.

Through all of this I wasn't happy, sure I felt great in achieving and I felt like I had to prove something, but by the time I finished my degree I didn't want anything to do with science and I didn't even go to my graduation. So far in my life I had never successfully made any friends. Then a few months after I had graduated +Thomas Hawk who I had known for a few years on Flickr contacted me on Facebook saying he wanted to invite a couple of people from the site who weren't already on G+ and help get them started At first I said I was busy backing up files that day and maybe I would try it out some other day, but he convinced me to join. I'm extremely happy that I did join, I was immediately greeted by a warm community by the likes of +Kelli Seeger Kim, +helen sotiriadis, and +*. Suddenly my experiences having been popular on Flickr felt empty. I was greeted by authentic people who felt real. Within several weeks I finally felt brave enough to jump into a hangout hosted by +Kelli Seeger Kim along with +*, +Tana Teel, +helen sotiriadis, +Karen Hutton, +Damien Walker, and +Mark Rodriguez joining in near the end (screenshot of hangout below). I might have only said 5 words during the hangout (more like 3), but I felt like I wasn't being hated by people. Over the next few weeks I started joining more and more hangouts, not talking at first but over the months with people accepting me I finally opened up. Before Google+ I would never have believed I would be hanging out with so many different, amazing, and accepting people from all over the world and I don't believe any other network would have got me talking to other people other than this one.

Google+ has done even more for me. Not only has it helped me become social, it has given me a place to communicate my ideas and show my work. I'm not just a photographer, I have ideas and I keep coming up with more, I want to organize these ideas, and communicate them. All of the connections with so many different people even brought me to the point of starting an on air show on G+ because I felt that I could foster a bridge between all of these different amazing people and ideas to be found on here. Through Google+ I have been able to be heard, understood, and accepted even though I am different and people remark about that. It's because of this I want to thank everyone for being a part of the Google+ community and for accepting me as part of it.

Christin McLeod's profile photoBilly Wilson's profile photoPhilb Robin's profile photoAlan Weinstock's profile photo
That's awesome man! I think I was on a Hangout with you a couple times. Great post!
i remember that hangout! it was my first ever as well and i believe i had been drinking and was in my garage at the time :)
+Mark Rodriguez you were in a well lit room and there was some kind of collection behind you on a shelf... It could have even been a collection of paint cans.
+Billy Wilson fantastic post and I am continuously amazed by the passion and energy you bring to G+! :-)
Congratulations on having come this far on your journey, +Billy Wilson! Your successes along the way show that you have within you a strong drive towards wholeness. I can relate to your struggles with depression because I am under treatment for it (successfully). If you ever need to talk about it I and other people here on G+ are willing to listen :-)
Brand new here and was beginning to wonder what G+ is and what the value is.
Great post and very timely too.
Thanks for sharing
What a fantastic post +Billy Wilson. I wish I could +1 it more than once. You're such a fantastic and talented guy! big smooches
+Ivan Waaler I find it can be used for many different things. Those who want to use it for nothing do so, for friendship that's done too, as well as finding interesting content, organizing events, keeping up with family, sharing your life, broadcasting ideas, sharing your music through on air shows.... I could go on. It just takes initiative.
The journey has been yours alone +Billy Wilson G+ may have given you the kick start you needed, but never forget that it's you that have taken each step along the way. I've only talked to you a few times, but I did instantly like you. You seem to be genuine and honest. I respected you before this post, and now have more admiration than previously. Great job on your journey thus far. I feel as though you will continue to grow as your own man!
Woohoo! Billy, how crazy was that hangout! Ha ha! Lordy, we were at our best: crass and shameless. grin. 
I remember that hangout! Excellent post +Billy Wilson ! It is true, there is life after HS and most people find their true friends in that life. :)
+shane holsclaw I think that was our first meaningful conversation, but I was checking my first few posts and you actually left a few comments on them the day I signed up for G+.
Rose T
Thank you +Billy Wilson for sharing such an intimate story.. it made me weep, first with sadness then with joy at what you've put together for yourself and not give up. There is a place for everyone in this world, I think you just found the stepping stone to a whole new world. :)
Strong words. Writing a piece like this takes courage and you got a lot of it. Keep growing, great things lie ahead!
+Billy Wilson thank you so much for this post! It is so heartfelt and genuine... like everyone else in your core group! Kids, even adults in a similar situation can learn from your journey!
+Billy Wilson i've enjoyed doing hangouts with you and now feel like i know you even more. - your post is brave, and i look forward to hangout out with you soon.
Haha, I have add about Children and ADHD in Gmail right now while viewing this post.
I'm glad you've found your voice with G+. Keep up the great work.
awww +Billy Wilson - I think this place has done so much for so many of us! I've always been pretty shy and I don't usually have a lot of people around me... but this place has definitely changed the way I look at people..

I'm so glad this has been a positive experience for you!!
+Billy Wilson- Ha ha ha! Good times. I think it took a real badass to share what you've shared here. I feel honored to be a part of it. Thank you, Billy. :-)
Now I feel really bad +Billy Wilson I just finished a trip to TImmins which took me close to your home. I was not the primary driver, nor do I think my dad would have been happy about taking a detour. I was thinking as I passed by that it would be cool to meet you.....
+Darryl Van Gaal it's still quite a ways away. I've never even been to Timmins and I've only been to North Bay a handful of times in my life.
Awesome post +Billy Wilson ! Thanks for sharing this with us. I dislike labeling people and I am sorry that you had to go through all this problems at school. I am a former psychologist and I still see kids suffering stigma for being "different" at school. This is so sad. You are super talented and I'm glad that I have crossed paths with you. I remember when I saw your photos here +Christophe Friedli told me about it and I just LOVED IT specially the series. The sense of community here is real. :)
This is a great story... =)
+Billy Wilson we drove up to Timmins by using highway 69 and 144. I'm pretty sure you know those two routes. I probably was by your house at about 7am on Friday.
Well, +Billy Wilson, I agree that you are different but its a really good thing that you are. You make terrific photographs. I took a look. Thank you for being you. Don't stop, don't give up.

Now, I want to say something different: you are in some ways like everyone else. All of us have something beautiful inside us, the core of who we are. When we were very young, adults could so easily so the beautiful persons were were.

Years passed and we experienced some good and bad. The important part of who we are does not change. Sometimes we lose track of who we are, but we are who we always were. We are beautiful.

As an artist, it seems, you often choose to present the beautiful, as if a gift to the world. Art isn't always beautiful, but what I see in your work shows you choose to share beauty with some of the same people who stupidly missed out on who you are. Good for you.

I am pleased that you found some of the very cool people who seem to gather here - rather than other social media groups. A lot of these people are great art promoters. A lot of these people make great art.
They are human treasure as are you. Keep doing what you are doing in making art.

To all the people who have supported +Billy Wilson, thank you. He has shown me a bit of why you are special people too.
Very cool story +Billy Wilson and thank you for sharing. I am sure you will inspiration to many.
Thank you for sharing your story, you are so generous. You are very talented so continue your good work, the rest will follow.
You were in one of the early hangouts I was in July I think :) great story, glad you are here.
I remember that date because it means a lot to me.
Was probably August then. :) with young kids, sleep deprivation, busy work etc i am not keeping Smithsonian levels. I just remember you being in a hangout in the early days of G+. Anyways.
Smithsonian levels of record / date keeping I mean. Thanks iPhone. 
you didn't have to have ADD to be taunted in school -- any glimmer of being different does it. i had a very rough time too.

i'm very glad to have read your story.

i hope your are able to translate your social skills to 'real life' too... as much as you want, on your own terms.

you're one of the gems of people i've found on G+.
I'm definitely aiming for Sault Ste.Marie on my itinerary +Billy Wilson ! We'll host Northern Ontario's first G+ Photographers Conference ;)
I'm still a little too shy to talk on hangouts :? Not making excuses, but I do think it is an effect of being told that I'm annoying (adhd, real true adhd, makes it almost unbearable to sit still or focus unless it's something you care about). I was singled out about the same age with kindergarden, I was put in a year early, and because I didn't act like other girls I was sent to the "stop and think" room from then until 3rd grade.
I do think I benefited at least in being too "high on life" to notice or care that I was treated differently. My crash was in 7th grade when I realized how cliques work.
During and after high school, Faceblech made me realize how many people were my "friends" and then how many didn't care much farther than the old cliques. So g+ was godsend. Just the 20 or so I can talk to and sympathize, rejoice, and laugh with every day, I feel very blessed :) I still have only 1 irl friend besides my fiance but I know have a whole circle that is slowly but surely growing with people I trust my deepest secrets with :)
+Nicolette Whealy I have no hyperactivity. I have no friends. But at least there are people with similarities out there.
+Billy Wilson aren't similarities where friendships start? :) after all I met my irl friend in chorale

It's a blessing and acurse to have the hyperactivity, I'm rarely bored, but I also can't stop my brain from going a mile a minute.

May I be your friend :) ?
+Nicolette Whealy, I've never had someone ask to be my friend before. Why not? Your posts didn't look bad. So I circled you, I put you in my hangout circle, so you will be invited to my general hangouts and my after show.
Daw why thank you! I never really thought about it, but I always ask to befriend someone! It gives you equal right to turn me down :) I guess Ill have to learn to best my fears of hangouts for your sake if not mine lol!
Great post +Billy Wilson . I'm dyslexic
In school Teachers and classmates always found it easyer to call me stupid. Then to try and help Even my own family found it better to call me stupid
I find it very difficult to talk to people. One of the reasons I came to google plus was to try and get over that fear. For the most part I like talking to people like this. But even though I check my spelling before I post. I still get it wrong. And I have found people who make fun of me because of it. I try to not let it bother me put that does not always work.
I have not had the nerve to try a hangout yet.
I am glad to hear that it is helping you.
Thanks for sharing Billy. Nice to know a personal background to you. :)
+Billy Wilson It is great to see that you found your way... and keep up your working for the Google+ community:) The Hangouts are such a great chance to bring humans together all over the world. Thank you Billy, you are in my "Influencer" circle...
Awesome post! +Billy Wilson i am pretty new to G+ too and i am still in the phase of 'trying to find good people to hangout with'. i added a lot of people and a lot of people have added me back too, but out of them i really actually know 2 or 3, haven't been able to get how to start knowing people,,but i will i suppose, with time :), your post inspired me, maybe i should give it another shot :) thanks for sharing, that was touching and felt very real.

P.S i would like to know how you found the initial bunch of people that welcomed you. would love that to happen to me.
Thank you +Shahryar Saqib, I'm happy you enjoyed the post and it inspired you. It takes a bit of effort on G+ to get things rolling. Stepping a bit out of the comfort zone works.
I appreciated your tutorial on 7+ ways to make friends on G+! You sound like a very interesting person, not different (in a bad way) at all! :). I grew up in the U.P. Michigan (Paradise), my best friends were all Cunucks, as was my first fiancé ( whom I happened to meet on the Algoma Central!). We used to go to the Sioux for the snowmobile races, and shopping. LOVED the French toast at the Chippewa Hotel!! I'm just getting started here on the big G+, but I have several ideas! Look forward to hearing more from you. Be well!
+Bindi Wuertenberg it's uncommon to have people who have been closer to my area before. I have hardly ever travelled, but I have been to Paradise, it's near those waterfalls.
Yup, you are correct! The Tahquamenon Falls. It is so beautiful up there. My family moved to a different state after my first year in college, and I miss the U.P. dearly!

Glad to make your acquaintance, Billy!

Be well! :)
+Bindi Wuertenberg I would have typed the name, but I always mess it up. Here on the Canadian side we consider the U.P. to be densely populated in comparison. Which I think is kind of funny.
I didn't realize what part of canada you were in before +Billy Wilson , always assumed you were near the middle ;) you're actually only 2 states away!
Most people I know on g+ tend to be either on th coasts or over seas (guess they're more tech forward? That or my subject posting matter is most interesting to coastal people lol)
How's your day going? Doc visit go okay yesterday?
Brilliant post, Billy. I only recently realised that I probably have Aspergers Syndrome. Little else seems to explain my life nearly as well as such a diagnosis. Thank you for sharing your experiences growing up and heading into life. School for me was tough primarily because of other people. Only within the last seven years have I learned to be with other human beings, and to develop the skills to interact and to play with them. Good to know that we are not alone in this experience. Best regards to you.
Came across this late but enlightening way to look at G+
+Jay Lee many people online, just try to find posts around similar interests and interact with the people commenting on the thread.
Great post! I haven't used hangouts very much, but it seems like a good tool to get to learn people a little deeper.
This is a great post +Billy Wilson, thank you for sharing this with the community. It's really heartening to hear how Google+ has played such an important role for you
Found this great post through Robin Griggs Wood and I just want to thank you so much for sharing your story. That was very courageous.

I don't have ADD, but I was teased mercilessly as a child, through high school, for being dyslexic, having a lazy eye, and buck teeth (braces fixed the 2nd part of that in high school). Girls hated me and would make up awful lies about me. Boys generally liked me too much - to this day, I don't know why, but it caused lots of problems for's probably why girls hated me (and no, I did not date or sleep around with anyone). Even entering my 5th decade of life, I still feel like an odd duck, like I don't fit in hardly anywhere. I have very few real life friends. And I feel awkward with those people, even though I consider them my very best friends. I feel awkward with the people I've met on G+ and don't forge strong relationships as a result. I guess I just feel awkward in my own skin in general. I don't know why. I certainly don't blame anyone else for it, but it is perplexing to me where it came from

But I digress. The bottom line is that I'm glad you shared your experience. In some way, it gives me hope that I will not always feel so disconnected and weird...probably when I choose to quit feeling this way... ;) In the meantime, CHEERS! to you!! I'm happy I came across your profile. You've given a girl a shred of hope today. :D
This is kraldmark, I’m excited to read this, thanks for sharing +Billy Wilson. I just opened my account and find many interesting and useful tips on G+. I reach here via Google search engine. I’m so glad so many friends are here. 
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