What the Google+ Community Gave Me

Update: I've started an inspirational video series about mental disabilities: http://goo.gl/aXtFXM

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.

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