The other day I was texting with a friend. He referenced a recent blog post of mine where I talked about how so many people — especially women — tend to feel bad about themselves after signing on social media and seeing all the in-your-face displays of happiness from our peers. We then start to compare and beat ourselves up for not having what these people have, without really knowing the whole story. Are they REALLY happy? Do we know what goes on behind closed doors?
This friend of mine commended me for writing it, and our conversation continued. “I’m glad I have my blog for that reason,” I told him. “I feel a responsibility to show the real parts of my life because I don’t need to be someone everyone thinks is trying to pretend to be perfect.”
His response surprised me a little: “You’re brave. Not everyone can do that.”
Brave? I never really thought of it that way, but I suppose it is. To me, there really isn’t anything “brave” about being yourself. But in a world where so many people tend to keep the ugly, dirty and messy parts of their lives private, I tend to do the opposite. And don’t get me wrong: There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with choosing not to publicize certain aspects of your life. I just have a hard time doing that.
When I started my blog, AA, in the spring of 2012, the intention was to keep it lighthearted. I always loved humor writing and wanted a place to showcase my silly, sarcastic and creative side. As a result, I told funny stories. I talked about my childhood dream to be a ventriloquist (not kidding). I talked about my lazy eye (also not kidding). I wrote funny posts about life in New York City and griped about everyday things and various fluffy topics. I had fun with this new little blogging hobby o’ mine, and life was good.
Until one day it wasn’t.
After about a year of writing, things started to change drastically in my personal life. I experienced a huge breakup with someone I had been dating for five years. I moved out of New York City, a place I had loved so deeply. I was single for the first time in a VERY long time and had to dive into the world of dating and living alone. Family members took ill and passed away.
I felt an overwhelming desire to start talking about all that stuff — the real, gritty, not fun, gut-wrenching stuff — in that lighthearted little blog I’d created.
But what would people think? I certainly didn’t want my blog to become an overly personal online diary and I also wanted to be careful I wouldn’t reveal too many things that I’d regret later. But I threw caution to the wind and slowly started writing about some of these aforementioned things, and I got really great responses to them. And guess what? It’s now four years later, and I haven’t stopped since.
My blog, which was once a place for tomfoolery and carefree posts, has now manifested into a place where I can share REAL things. I talk about some of my internal struggles with being single, being childless in a setting where a majority of my friends are settled down and have kids, and navigating this crazy world as a 30-something female who often finds herself at a crossroad. I write about my horrific battle with migraine headaches, I touch on self-esteem and body image, and I tell you about strange and embarrassing things that happen to me that most people wouldn’t want to admit.
Why do I do it? It’s cathartic and therapeutic, absolutely. But more so, I do it because of the responses I get. When friends and followers (even ones I don’t know personally) reach out to tell me they really loved a post or that it resonated with them because they’re going through a similar thing, I’m elated. Like I said to my friend this week: I feel a responsibility as a writer to do that. I want to be viewed as someone who’s relatable, someone who not only goes through real things like everyone else but also has no qualms about discussing it and “putting it out there.”
Is it “brave?” Maybe. I don’t know.