Chicago Pen Show Lesson #1

Lesson #1: Your community will support and love you in ways that you never anticipated.

I’ve never considered myself memorable. Being part of a team or group always felt like the most comfortable option. When I rolled into Chicago for the 2023 Fountain Pen Show I was exhausted from too many work projects and personal endeavors to feel the energy levels I was accustomed to. With my first stop at the Atlas storefront, I remembered why I loved the fountain pen community so much.

The store staff updated me on the latest events and I had the good fortune to see the latest product, Plotter, be demoed that morning. As I interacted with my tribe, I felt energized and excited.

I carried that into my first full day at the Pen Show on Friday. What buoyed my spirits may likely have been something that you experienced. I was approached by people I had shared a community with online but had not yet met in person. It was akin to love, the way we brought our physical personas together after sharing our art and hobbies online.

To each person who took pictures, introduced themselves, or simply said hi for the first time, know that I am grateful to know you and share space with you. Not only do we come from different backgrounds, but we have different pen brands and nib preferences. We like different inks and paper. Yet we always have an open dialogue about someone else’s preferences. Even the “competing” brands are receptive and professional to one another.

To say that our community behaves in ways that represent so much good about a collective group of people would be an understatement. Every person who reads my daily posts gets a tiny piece of my personal existence. But by coming together in one physical location we created a family of sorts. The Atlas family helped me survive some dark days during the pandemic with their open doors and hearts.

Never let anyone convince you that your passions are irrelevant. Fountain pens may not have saved my life but they’ve created an extended family that has honored me with their attention, care, and joys. Remember that your community matters. You matter. And our fountain pen families make our lives a little bit better.

My love to the Atlas family for giving me a place at their table and making me feel valued whether I spent $70 or $700. Support your local family owned businesses. And finally, to the show attendees I had the pleasure of chatting with:

Keep showing up. Your individual self makes us better. Thank you for sharing your time and all your new nibs, pens, and personal anecdotes with me. This is why we exist - to connect and carry each other forward on this journey. In the words of my life coach: PEACE!

- Jennifer Houghton


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