Every End is a Beginning: The Story of MsIndepedent
As we approach the 4 year anniversary of our group MsIndependent I thought it appropriate to give you the story of how we came to be. At 25 my off again on again boyfriend of a little over 2 years started seeing someone else. He was my best friend and constant companion. I started dating him shortly after moving back to Houston from FL where I had attended the University of Tampa. I had never driven til after college, so without my chauffer/boyfriend/best friend, I didn't go anywhere and I didn't know anyone.
That changed when I heard about meetup.com on the radio. I promptly joined as my Redbox pizza nights on the coach were I ate, slept, and watched T.V had gotten old. I joined an all women group but they were all around my mother's age. I joined a younger meetup and usually saw the organizer drunk by the time I got there, and got tired of pub crawl meetups. So with that I started a meetup for single women called MsIndependent ( from the Ne-Yo) song, which was not thought out at all. I declared that if the group was an utter fail I was out $19 ( the organizer fees/month), and I would shut it down in 30 days. What did I have to loss?
4 days later after my random act of boredom I checked the site and saw that I had 56 members! I couldn't believe it! Our first meetup was at Ra Sushi in City Centre. There was no What to Know Before You Go Email ( the emails that go out the day before a meetup), nothing was thought out. I did have pink beads and name tags to identify the group members, and 21 people came. The RSVP was something like 40. That was my first lesson that RSVP and actual attendees are two totally different numbers.
From there I had many highs and lows with the group, from great meetups to failures, to kind gestures to small behavior. I had become too social, which is expensive and tiring. I felt responsible for everyone's happiness and yet caught criticism for my efforts. At our lowest point I had allowed members to post their own meetups, and without quality control we started losing members fast. I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and resentful. I had been paying months of organizer dues, tired of seeing low turn outs but high RSVPs, and then a cancer developed in our group. A group of girls that would come to meetups but snubbed everyone, even me, walking by us as if we weren't there. They set a mood that was uncomfortable, and people felt it so they left the group. All I wanted was to be social, how had it come to this?
I started writing a letter explaining why I was closing the group. I had had enough! I worked on the letter for a week, and the day I decided to finally make the announcement to close the group, I got an unexpected email from a member. She said how much the group had helped her and how thankful she was for all of my hard work and efforts. That email was right on time, and why MsIndependent made it past that week. With all that was going wrong, I just needed to hear that I had done something...anything right.
I started becoming more customer service oriented, taking into account the various fears people have when meeting total strangers for the first time. I tried to be encouraging no matter what I felt, and sweet Jesus I learned to take deep breathes and remind myself of how people are, and to not take anything personally. MsIndependent is now for all women, not just singles, and 4 years in and over 2000 members, I still love what I do. I've been blessed to meet Rubi who volunteered to become our assistant organizer, which is no small feat and a huge help. I've been fortunate enough to make long lasting friendships within the group and have great memories to prove it.
Now I am embarking on MsIndependent the business, which is scarier than starting the meetup in the first place. I am working on creating workshops, seminars, events, and of course meetups that cater to women like us who are looking for friends, jobs, happiness, love, self-worth, peace, health, and purpose. Every time someone clicks "join" I appreciate their faith in the possibilities that that this group my create for them. For all those that stay home out of fear and hesitation I understand, but for those that show up, like I did 4 years ago, when the opportunity to change my life presented itself, we have something to celebrate! A breakup changed my life, and that end was a new beginning. My hope for each of you is to write the best possible story of your life, and where one chapter ends, another begins. Happy anniversary MsIndependent!