Last month, this blog slipped quietly past a milestone birthday and into its sixth year of existence. The anniversary was given the same treatment I give to my own birthdays: I allowed the date to pass without fanfare, but not without evoking some heartfelt contemplation. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent weeks reflecting on this space and what it has come to mean to me.
Five years. Nearly 800 posts. Countless books shared, ideas postulated, and vulnerable moments laid bare for all to read. Not too shabby for a pet project that was started as a halfhearted attempt to get my husband off my back about “sharing my writing, already.”
This blog has seen me through three job changes, my transition into my thirties, a miscarriage, the birth of my child, the earliest years of motherhood, a momentous move across the country, the loss of one pet and the acquisition of another, and my ongoing journey through secondary infertility. It’s served as a platform for celebrating my happiest moments, and a place to work through deep-seated pain. Writing has kept me afloat when my mind was drowning in anxiety, and has regularly provided a light at the end of a tunnel of depression. At times, it’s been a place to open up about my trials. More frequently than I’d care to admit, it’s been a spot where I could temporarily feign normalcy when in truth I wasn’t okay.
Five years in, and no, I don’t have thousands of readers or a book deal in the works or a regular paycheck to show for my half-decade of committed writing. Would I like for those things to happen? Well, I wouldn’t say no to them, and maybe one day I’ll pursue those goals more heavily. But truthfully, a massive readership or generating an income are not my primary motivations for writing. Ultimately, I write because it makes me a better person.
Before I began blogging, I had no idea how much I needed this space—a project to call my own, something I could invest in and feel proud of. Writing here has been empowering, giving me a sense of ownership and purpose, and providing stability when other aspects of life have felt shaky and uncertain. In these five years, I’ve matured as a writer (though I still mix my metaphors and rely too heavily on awkward punctuation, grandiose adjectives, and unwieldy paragraphs—I’m working on it!). But more importantly, I’ve grown as an individual. Because these last five years have not only helped me to find my voice, but also myself.
Many women I know process thoughts and emotions through talking. I process best through writing, so the act of blogging has helped me solidify my opinions and beliefs. When I’m struggling to find my footing on a particular topic, I sit down at my computer and by the time I’ve finished a post, I know exactly where I stand. Sure, private journaling can serve a similar function (and sometimes does), but something about the public accountability of a blog prompts me to dig deeper into a topic until I’ve landed on a truth: I like to feel confident in a position before going public with it, so I write until I feel solid about what I’ve written. Sometimes this integrity-driven aspect to my writing holds me back because I fear taking a stance I’ll later regret; but blogging has taught me that it’s okay to share the process . . . even wrong turns are part of the journey, and there’s value in having them documented. Each regretful opinion is a stepping stone to a thoughtfully acquired and deeply-held conviction.
In addition to helping me find my way, writing a blog has added intentionality to my life. By nature I’m already a list-making, photo-taking, goal-setting type of gal, but doing those things on this public platform adds extra levels of motivation. There are some things I might not do for myself, but I will do them in order to generate blog content, and ultimately I’m better off because of it. For instance, blogging has done wonders for my reading life, prompting me to read more books and spend more time reflecting on what I’ve read. I also believe that blogging has made me a better mom because I want to feel proud of the “mom moments” I share here, but I also want them to be accurate—simply knowing that all of my parenting highs and lows are fair game for a What I Learned list or other reflective post keeps me on my best behavior. And speaking of those What I Learned Lists: they are quite possibly the blogging habit that has transformed me the most; taking time to regularly reflect on what I’m learning has revealed some important lessons and patterns and nudged me towards some very necessary changes.
I often have mixed feelings about my decision to write on such a public forum. I’m generally a fairly private person, and sharing so candidly can feel vulnerable and scary. I also worry that my words don’t matter, that I’m simply contributing to the internet’s flood of superfluous content. I could glean most of the benefits of blogging by simply spending more time with my journal. So why I do I keep pressing publish? Because of you, my readers. Your comments and emails tell me that my experiences are not unique and that you like hearing that you are not alone. You’ve shown me that our stories and perspectives all matter—even mine. Persevering in blogging is my way of putting weight behind my conviction that all of our voices deserve to be heard. It’s true that my primary motivations for writing are personal ones, but if there is benefit to be had in letting others peek over my shoulder as I’m writing, I think it would be selfish not to.
Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sure, I have days when I question my dogged commitment to this space. Not many (sane) people would choose to spend all of their free time on a hobby with so few tangible rewards. Even fewer people would willingly air all their dirty laundry in such a public forum, as I do with frightening regularity in this space. But God continues to use my writing of this blog to mold, teach, humble, and encourage me (and hopefully you, too). Until that stops, I’ll continue to blog away. Thanks for joining me on this journey!