What it's really like to meet people from Instagram...
A little over a week ago, I said yes to meeting up with a bunch of strangers. A fabulous bunch, I might add. But strangers, nonetheless. Now, if you’d asked me a year ago whether I’d willingly put myself in a situation where I didn’t know a soul, I’d have laughed in your face and, most probably, changed the subject. So, what changed in a year? Well, for one, I picked up writing for my blog again - something I’ve always enjoyed but never quite managed to fit in. Oh, and I started a new Instagram account dedicated to the flat J and I moved into in February. (Much to the bemusement of everyone he works with).
I hadn’t really given much thought to making friends from the ‘gram; I was simply there to nosy at other people’s design choices, and to gather inspiration. But, as time passed, I began seeing the same squares on my feed; I looked forward to reading about the lives of those behind the grid. And so, when the wonderful Karen & Katie behind @beautifulhomesinthenorth toyed with the idea of arranging an Insta meet-up, I signed myself up.
Of course, this wasn’t the first ever time I’ve had to walk into a room full of strangers. Heck, I moved to the other side of the country without knowing anyone. But, somehow, the thought of meeting people with tens of thousands of followers was, quite frankly, terrifying. I never know whether to go for a handshake or a hug, for example. I am utterly useless at remembering people’s names. Plus, I have the most ridiculous fear of people simply not liking me.
The pre-event anxiety started around 2pm: that familiar feeling of having a knot in my stomach. By the time I stepped onto the metro at North Shields, I was a bag of nerves. Did my hair look okay? Was I too underdressed? Shit! I completely forgot to brush my teeth! Off at Monument; down Grey Street; across the road onto Dean Street then, suddenly, there I was. Outside of Marco Polo; absolutely terrified.
Karen was the first person I spotted. Then Katie. Then, a circle of women whose faces I vaguely recognised, but whose names I could not place. Luckily, Katie swooped in almost immediately, enveloping me in the warmest of embraces. I introduced myself to each of the new faces, only embarrassing myself once, (note to self: not all strangers are huggers) before taking a deep breath, and immersing myself in the circle.
Andrea was the first person I spoke to. With her leopard print kimono and cropped blonde hair, she looked like someone I might hit it off with. And get along with, I did! Once seated at our table, Andrea and I got on like a house on fire. I loved that she opened up to the group, informing us of the misfortune of bumping into an old acquaintance, and the subsequent bottle of wine to survive said acquaintance. I chatted openly to Karen about my dream of being a proper journalist like her, before sharing my aspirations with the lovely Dawn and Helen. Over many a glass of wine, we laughed like no-one could hear us, shared DIY-disasters and ate until our bellies could take no more.
Eager to paint the town, and fuelled by a Prosecco or three, we carried on the party. Walking down towards the Quayside, I caught up with Emma of Light Up North. I learnt that, in a past life, she was a social worker but, since starting her small business, is able to pick her kids up from school. I admired the spangly sequinned boots adorning the feet of Gemma of Luxeology; shimmied along to the music with Katie; professed my love of Jess’ gorgeous ringlets.
Before I knew it, it was gone 11pm. They say that time goes by in a flash when you’re having fun. And, boy, did we have a blast… and then some.
Have you ever met up with a group of strangers? How did it go? Let me know in the comments, below.
A huge thank you to Karen & Katie of Beautiful Homes in the North for organising the get-together! Keep an eye out on their feed for details of the next outing; we’d all love to see you!