Before I was born my mother and father were sitting in a church service listening to a message about my namesake — Tabitha (Acts 9 if you want to look it up). Tabitha was one of the rare people in the Bible where you meet her after she’s already died. Peter, one of the apostles, goes to a house full of mourning. It seems Tabitha was much loved because she made clothes for widows and orphans. Peter, struck by her compassion and the grief of the people, raises her back to life.
My parents were struck by her story and decided their first female child would be named Tabitha.
In some sense, I’ve always tried to live up to her legacy. This legacy of leaving behind people who love you and who you’ve helped. And, for me, it all starts with cultivating relationships.
I was, like many nerdy kids, pretty lonely growing up. I longed for friends. Thankfully, I had a younger sister who was my constant companion, but I wanted more. I dreamt of friendships like the books I was obsessed with reading. I ached for someone who’d tell me stories and secrets. I was consistently dumbfounded when other people didn’t like me.
Then, when I was 12, I discovered the internet.
You have to understand that the internet to me will always be this Narnia of a place. Here I could type in things I loved (mystery novels) and find people who liked the same things as I did. It was magical. Suddenly, the world was open for me to find people who liked me for who I was — not because they were in the same age group at church.
I met my first internet friend at age 16 (with my parents). I remember buzzing with happiness for days after that. Someone who loved what I loved wanted to spend time with me. I was overwhelmed.
Over the years, I’ve met so many people through the power of social media and the internet. Bounds have formed that have lasted over a decade. The number of close friends I have would boggle the younger version of myself. The internet gave me a tool to find my tribe. To click when I felt anything but clickable.
There’s an energy that happens when you meet someone you can connect with — I call it “soul buzz.” There’s just something secret sauce about the right temperament, mood, mutual loves and energy that connect in a way that proves that human beings are infinitely complex. When you find “the one” — your skin seems to dance with a level of awareness. Yes, yes! I am not alone in my weirdness — this is someone like me.
It’s the main reason I attend comic cons.
While my father is the start of all that is good and geeky in my life, growing up I was still vaguely aware that being bookish and geeky was not “normal.” Nothing drove the point home like the last summer before high school when a table of kids laughed at me for using a four syllable word. I burned with shame.
For most of my life I’m unabashedly geeky, but going to comic cons reminds me that I am not alone. There’s a group of people — many of them professional, amazing, talented, functional people, who love the same things I do and learn the same things I learn through our fandoms.
As I reflect on how happy I am and realize again that relationships are the backbone of life. My husband, my kid, my family, these friends — all of them contribute to my life being wonderful or terrible. As I build this tribe, people who follow and love me no matter what, I realize that was what Tabitha must have been doing — making relationships.
I hope she’d be proud.
About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis
Tabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith. A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.