Five years ago, I started a blog. (Also, I must say: starting to drink coffee and starting a blog happened within just a few weeks of each other. I believe in predestination and I am convinced that those two things happening so close together are not and could not be a coincidence.)
Metacognition is “thinking about thinking.” This is metablognition: blogging about blogging.
February 28, 2013: Clemson hadn’t won a National Championship since 1981. All In had been open for less than a year. I was a college freshman majoring in elementary ed and I kind of dabbled in writing. And my, how everything has changed: Clemson, All In, and Love Lauralicious!
I thought of deciding to start a blog as an independent, adult decision; no one suggested it to me. I didn’t know many real-life people with blogs (a few friends started blogs after I started mine and I felt like a trendsetter, but also correlation is not causation). One afternoon in class the idea really just popped into my head, and then the next morning, I posted my very first post (link here). I usually take more time and use more thought when making decisions, but deciding to start a blog and then just doing it was exhilarating, and I was so glad that I did it the way I did.
It was empowering. It was all mine. My name was on it. I was in charge.
I tend to feel uncomfortable when lots of people are looking at me, but also I very much want positive attention (#complicated), and having a blog allowed me to express myself without being stared at. It also allowed me to write and have actual readers! I love and need to write, which I didn’t really know about myself yet. The blog gave me a) a platform to write and b) writing accountability.
I had never known how to tell people that I like to write. Blogging showed me how: by doing the thing. By writing.
The platform the blog gave me was an interesting one – most of my readers were my Facebook friends and sometimes the people those people knew, if a post got shared, and, occasionally, a rando in Australia or sometimes Russia. (I almost definitely know no one in Australia/Russia.) A few times in college, people I didn’t know (who knew someone I knew) introduced themselves to me as occasional readers of my blog (I don’t want to exaggerate. This happened two, maaaaaybe three times but it was very exciting when it did!). Once, I saw someone I didn’t know reading my blog. Obviously this happened at All In.
(Sidebar: there is a 100% chance that Love Lauralicious would not a) exist or b) be any good even at all or c) still be alive if it were not for All In Coffee. I know I have made it clear many a time, but I LOVE THAT PLACE [and the people, and the coffee, and the baked goods, and especially my table there] with all that I am and all that I have, and I very much always will.)
And having a blog also gave me writing accountability: if I didn’t post for a while, people noticed! And they encouraged me to write! I hadn’t anticipated how helpful that would be. People even thought of me as a writer. This was a wonderful and vulnerable and exciting feeling.
Blogging gave me confidence as a writer. I don’t want to force my opinion on anyone, and I know that no one asked me for my opinion on anything, yet I really really want to be heard and known (again with the #complicated and also #needy). Writing on my blog means that no one is being forced to read these words. If you don’t like them, you can stop reading (and if you do like them, please keep reading, and also love me!).
Love Lauralicious became like its own little person, like I had a baby that had some spunk and a lot to say. People asked me how both I and the blog were doing in the same breath, and I loved that.
Then something happened…I think I lost my momentum. I froze up. One too many people told me that I write just like I talk, and I decided that’s not how I want my writing to be. I wanted my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful. I didn’t want people who read my words to feel like they were having a conversation with me, because this is not a conversation, or even just me talking: this is writing. It’s a completely different format from talking, and I thought it should be respected as such. This is where I get to write what I think and you can read it or you can choose to not. I got really weird about my use of the pronoun “you” (as in, I didn’t use it ever. My writing got strangely formal) and using a hashtag in a blog post seemed quite blasphemous to me.
I clammed up and I got self-conscious and I used the excuse that I was super busy with other things (and I really was very busy!). I blogged less often, and when I did, the content was more serious yet not as engaging or real. I wasn’t as proud of what I wrote and I was afraid of feedback because I was blogging to blog and not because I was passionate about my words or even just the process of putting down words to share. Looking back, I think I should have given myself a sabbatical.
Eventually I realized that I was being ridiculous and no fun. In time, I changed some things: I started a series and gave myself a goal for how often I wanted to post. I lightened up a bit. I clarified to myself who I was writing for. I decided that, yes, I want my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful, but I also want it to be a little funny, and in general a mostly non-miserable experience, with a little bit of my personality thrown in, because this is my name on it – so it’s okay for my personality to show up in reading it.
Blogging has brought me more anguish than I anticipated. I thought it was just going to be endearing and fun, but it’s been hard and scary and introspective, and occasionally embarrassing, too. Overall, it has also been good and full of learning, which is what keeps me coming back (well that, and that I get to write). I have learned, and I have written – which was, of course, the original intent.
Also, let’s just not forget the time that I blogged a letter to Miley Cyrus and then I tweeted the link at her and she liked my tweet. I doubt that she actually read my letter, but she acknowledged it, so that was cool.
In the spirit of looking back, here are the links to some of my favorite posts from these five years:
- Leggings Aren’t Pants but I’m Kind of a Jerk (still true)
- Not Quite Home but Still Sweet Holmes
- The Worst Job in the World
- If A Potato Could Talk
- Everything I Know I Learned from Anne
- Now Go Put on Some Socks
- The Thing with Feathers
- The Girl with the Red Glasses (I lost the red glasses when I fell off a bike in our nation’s capital a few months after this post was written…but I loved being The Girl with the Red Glasses)
- Dear Brother I Love You
- The Story Girl
- The Significance of Handkerchiefs
- For the Moments I Feel Faint
- The Sweetest Little Dovelies
- To Those Who Keep Me Going
- Faith Not in Flowers
- Pantyhose, Not People
- Hope and the Holy Spirit
- All You Need Is
- These Are the Places I Will Always Go
- I Carry It In My Heart
I love to reflect and to think about the past. But I know that the future is the part that comes next, and when I think of the future of the blog, I get a little nervous. I don’t know what happens next; that’s the very scary thing about making it up as you go along.
I know the best way to achieve something is to have goals. Right now, these are my blogging goals:
- to not give up on the blog,
- to put less pressure on it,
- for it to not fizzle out (or: for me to not fizzle out),
- to stay faithful to it.
I’m a special ed teacher and and I write goals for a living and I know that these goals are not specific or measurable. Their criteria for mastery are extremely vague, I am aware. But I’m going to stick with them because this is a blog, not an IEP, and because I’m not getting paid to do this (#justsaying).
This is my reflection on five years of blogging: I am proud and I am thankful, and I am so glad words exist.