Here’s a bit of a personal post for you this time. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll know that I am a certified teacher with the Institute for Vocal Advancement, a graduate of Jamie Catto’s Bring It, and a Trainee at Breathing Space. All three of these schools have taught me so much about teaching, facilitating and leading, and the educational content has really inspired and informed the work I do.

The one thing I both love and hate about all three of these schools is that the education is delivered almost entirely online. I love it for convenience; I can do the classes from home, it doesn’t matter that we are on different continents or in different timezones, we can meet whenever!

As a result, I have lots of colleagues and friends from different countries around the world. Which is awesome! I have met so many amazing people I would never have met if I hadn’t joined any of these schools.

But the thing that I hate about it is that I can hardly ever meet up with these people in person. We can chat, call, text, video call whenever, but it’s not the same as meeting up IRL. The COVID pandemic didn’t help that either - we were all separated by much more than distance for two years! 

Which is why I jumped at the chance to meet up with some of these wonderful humans in London for the first time last October, and let me tell you, it was amazing. As good as online connections are, nothing beats actually hugging a real 3D human. 

I absolutely loved it, it was an effortless switch from being online to being together in the same place, at the same time. Even with two different groups of people it was the same experience! Nobody was awkward, nothing was forced, it was easy and natural. 

In this big world, having real connections is something that I value. Really value. Because when I go all in, I have no tolerance for fakeness. If I am showing you my whole, true self, I expect you to be your whole, true self in return.

And I was not disappointed.

Every single one of the seven people I met up with was their true self. Nobody was fake. Nobody was pretending, and it broke down all the social barriers, meaning we could talk as humans, without social expectations and with a shared history.

And this year I get to do it all again! To meet friends I've made in the last few months at Breathing Space down in Brighton, then up to Edinburgh with IVA for our annual conference. I am so excited!

And now I really know how valuable online friends can be. Because those few hours we spent together deepened our connections with each other, and I know that now that we've returned to the online space, our friendships will last. I also know that when we see each other in person next time, it will be just as magical!

If there is any takeaway for you from this story - it’s to see who is in your circle. Who do you value? Who would you feel comfortable being vulnerable around? And not to ever forget your online connections - they might turn out to be more important than you think.