I looked out east across the Mississippi River from the 7 by 27-inch window. For a minute, I saw a 1700s landscape. Homes scattered about on the Illinois side of the river, it wasn’t a new place by any means, but it was still considered part of a new frontier.
Then I looked out west standing on top of the monument built to celebrate the westward expansion of the United States: The Gateway Arch. The landscape I was envisioning was vastly unexplored. There was plenty of room for anyone willing to come in and make their mark. The rules were still being written by those who were the first to call this place their own.
Just over 9 years ago, I made my way out west to a new and exciting venture in life. I had no idea where it would take me, the things that I would see or do. I just knew that I wanted to write about my experience being a dad and share it with the world. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and had no idea what I was doing other than picking out a name and a blogging platform.
Mistakes were made, letters back home were written to let everyone know that I was ok on this journey. As I started to make my own in this new land, I began to look around and realize that I wasn’t alone. There were others out here making it as well.
It wasn’t too long before I was introduced to an entire community who was doing the same thing that I was (and have been) doing. I couldn’t tell you the number of people who were part of the dad bloggers community at the time, but here they were, working together to make this strange world a better place with the content that we were creating. Here were other dads talking about how great it is to be a dad and that the stereotype of how involved dads are changing.
Much like the growth that St. Louis experienced since 1764 along with the westward expansion that followed, the community of dad bloggers has seen it too. There are now groups of dads in cities throughout the United States that get together and celebrate being a dad: City Dads Group. Dad content creators gather once a year to talk about what it is like to be a dad, where we are about to go, and what we can do to better ourselves in this new influencer space: Dad 2.0 Summit. And then there are groups celebrating the At-Home Dad a community of dads: The National At-Home Dad Network.
I would have never thought that when I started this journey nearly 9 years ago that it would have grown to where it is now. At first, I just wanted a space to have the ability to talk about what I was going through. I didn’t (and still don’t) consider myself a trailblazer.
I loaded a tram back down from the top of the Gateway Arch, it hit me, that while this community has grown, supports each other, and lifts all boats, it is still mostly unexplored by the masses. A long-forgotten place that has so much to offer not just what people see on the outside. But when you spend time with those of us in the dad blogging community, you’ll realize we aren’t all that different from the small towns of what was at one point the Western Frontier.
As people flyover the Midwest, looking down at the country that is 7 miles underneath them, they see little pockets of communities. Each with their own identity. While the way of life is very similar to how those communities accomplish the overall goal of the town, county, and state they associate are the same.
Overlooking these communities is easy. But when you step in, you’ll see just how incredible these communities are. Friendships are born, passion projects become new sources of income, and the support shown by one another within is authentic.
As the westward expansion of these communities continue to grow that we are part of, at one time mostly unexplored territory of the online world, it is becoming more accepted that this can and has become a way of life for many.
No matter how big your community is.
Full Disclosure: I did travel to St. Louis and was paid to experience the Lou, however, the thoughts and opinions are my own.