When a blog turns 5.
Honesty hour: I’ve been avoiding this blog.
I’ve been ignoring this blog more stealthily than I ignored the texts of a dude I gave my phone number to after he talked my ear off about bed bugs for nearly an hour at a party. I felt bad about the conversation so I crumbled when he asked for my digits. I don't recommend ignoring people but I was young & dumb. We all make them rooky mistakes.
It's been three weeks since I’ve written. I can’t even pull the “I’ve not been inspired to write” card. I have been inspired. I just spent the last few days in the deserts of California learning how to brew Batdorf & Bronson coffee over a propane tank and spending the afternoons frolicking through fields of cacti. Being “uninspired” is not applicable in this space.
But something has shifted in my heart as of lately. I tried to explain myself in this blog post here but nothing ever came of it. So I am going to try again— this time with more determination.
I was talking the other day with a guy who was born on December 31. He said he hated being born on a holiday. I told him I didn’t understand but that was okay. I could understand Christmas or Valentine’s Day but I think there’s something so beautiful about sharing your birthday with the one day of the year where most humans are optimistic about starting over. We get really resolved on December 31. We think about the things we want to leave behind and there’s almost this tangible hope that we will, that we might actually be different humans and hurt one another less and consume more vegetables at the strike of midnight.
For years I hated admitting that I was a big fan of New Years because it seemed cliché. The cooler thing to do was be a cynic and claim I made no resolutions. Now that the ice has thawed off of me, I can say without hesitation: I actually love this sacred last day of the year where me, and a couple other million people, feel like maybe our do-over is about to begin.
Why? Because I’m a big fan of the do-over. I like starting over. Here's the thing though: you’re stuck with yourself. If you want to change then that’s on you. You have to begin the process. You have to stick with it. The whole world likes to talk about changing your whole life but I think few ever really do it.
For a while I’ve wanted a do-over for this blog. This blog is 5 years old. She is in need of a major makeover— think Laney Boggs in She’s All That.
People wonder if starting a blog is really worth it. To that I say, yes. Absolutely. Completely. Blogging— to me— is not a trend. It’s exercise. It’s discipline. It’s a way to develop a voice and developing said is absolutely crucial if you want to write on bigger platforms one day.
A blog will show you who you are and who you are not. Who you hope to be and who you hope to bury in the next 5 years.
Five years ago, when this blog began, I was a senior in college. I was an eternal optimist. I thought everything could be fixed by cupcakes and I was perpetually singing about life to the tune of “War is Over (if you want it).” I was a feminist but only to prove a point. I wanted to save every orphan everywhere. I was consumed by a need to be the glittering object in every person’s orbit and that was truly exhausting. I came off as cool and confident, single and aware of myself. In actuality, I was consumed with myself— how I looked, who I impressed, what I accomplished.
Perfectionism will give you a bag of things you don’t actually need: eating disorders, depression, anxiety, fear wrapped up in fear.
In the next year I would move to New York City. I would deal with depression for the first time. I would live in the Bronx, work at the United Nations, and freelance for style magazines making 50 dollars an article.
I would begin writing letters and leaving them all over New York City as a way to cope with my loneliness. That would turn into a movement and I would need to grow up and turn into a human who can lead a team, delegate, and interpret spreadsheets (I still cannot handle that last one). I would start speaking around the country. I would quit my solid job with benefits. I would write my first book. And I would learn the truth that I hope everyone learns: It is okay to love your work. It is beautiful to do good. But the second your work becomes your life and you are drowning underwater, something has to give. Something has to shift.
So, in the last year of my life, everything shifted (for the better): I stopped making excuses. I opened up (really). I made coffee dates with people I would actually have to see more than once. I planted a garden. I figured out how to date and tackle small talk. I learned (am learning) to cook. I fell in love for the first time in 9 years and my hypothesis that it wasn’t possible to feel those feelings again was shattered. I discovered community, the real kind that doesn’t exist on Instagram. I met Jesus. As if Jesus were some beautiful, bearded man in a lumberjack flannel who comes up to your table to give you refills, I met him regularly in coffee shops across Atlanta. I taught my first writing intensive. I grew a garden. I camped (twice). I moved on. I figured out how to stay.
For the last few months, I’ve been really afraid to merely inspire you. This culture is full of inspiration and I find that it never fills me. It only keeps me clicking on more links.
I was sitting in a bible class last month and the teacher for the evening began by saying, “If you want something deep in your life, don’t ever expect it to the come through an event— unless it initiates a process.”
Two things to take from that:
I want something deep for your life.
Life is a process.
This blog has the capability to light a fire beneath you and send you charging you out into the world but we all know you’d eventually have to come back to get more fire. I don’t want that for your life. I want you to know how to build your own fires, how to change your own life.
For that reason, I am dedicating this blog to that mission for the next year: how to change your life. How to be brave. How to adult harder than you’ve ever adulted before. How to suck it up. How to move on. How to have tough conversations. How to use a dating app. How to kill your demons. How to buy dishes and plant roots. How to tackle an interview. How to love your community well. How to say no. How to pray. How to get off the phone.
I will still be writing some of the same content. I want to still talk about searching for God, and growing deeper, and dealing with heartbreak. I want to continue writing my “Dear Abby” style pieces so please, please write to me with your questions. I just want to show you more of my personality. I want to take the pressure off myself to always feel deep and insightful whenever I want to write to you here.
I want to be able to laugh with you, share rap music, joke with you, foster community in the comments section, and really become a tribe of movers & shakers who know how to light their own fires. If you figure out how to light your own fire— stack the woods, light the match, fan the flame— then you can teach others. The more fires we have this world, the more light. This world needs more light.
So let’s start. Please comment below and share with me some of the topics you hope I will handle in the year ahead. I will be reading.