Welcome to my blog: a record of one 25-year-old woman’s very intentional effort to organize and unpack what’s good – what’s electric – about her life, to find direction, and to deal with the things that often short out her ability to do both.
I have been sitting on this domain name for almost eight months – since January 21, 2015. At that point in time, I had just emerged from a twelve-month marathon of wedding planning the culmination of which was a beautiful day at the start of the new calendar year, a weeklong honeymoon in a decidedly balmier pocket of the world, and an overwhelming feeling that my life, which had been on an extended hiatus from dealing with my larger anxieties, desperately needed to finally return to its regularly-scheduled programming. I had been sitting on the idea of starting a blog for most of the two and a half years since I’d finished graduate school, and I was finally going to go for it.
In that time, I had been consumed with a pretty unremarkable struggle to identify what exactly it was that I was supposed to be doing with my life – what career path I should take, what specific color of light would throw a cast on my everyday life. I knew that I wanted to do “something creative”, but that wasn’t a path to take at all – just a catchy phrase to tell myself to keep my uneasiness at bay. It definitely did not help that during this time, my dependence on social media as a way of perceiving the lives of my peers grew heavier. I increasingly felt more urgency – totally fabricated, but no less real – over figuring out what my “passion” (gag) was supposed to be.
I had taken hold of the idea that blogging would be a good direction for me to explore. It would be an opportunity to return to regular writing – something I have always loved to do, my most trusted way of thinking, and the very first way I ever learned to self-soothe (long before the meditative podcasts and Jimmy Fallon viral videos). It would give me a medium through which to explore other interests – like photography – and a way to be “connected” but less dependent upon social media. I was becoming more and more frustrated with my relationship with technology, but I knew how inextricably entwined my social life was in it.
So I thought about blogging for a long time, visualizing myself doing it. I liked the way it looked and felt in my mind’s eye. But what would I blog about? I had to have something specific to write about – my passion, my purpose, my career path, my direction in life that I was supposed to be figuring out. I thought about it, but I never actually did anything about it.
When I started planning my wedding in early 2014, I gave myself the year off from figuring it all out. Explicitly granting myself a reprieve from that pressure almost instantly quieted that scary corner of my mind. I rationalized it: starting a blog definitely wouldn’t pay my bills at this point; instead, it would take up the free time that I needed to spend planning a wedding. I told myself that by the time January 2015 came around, the wedding would be over and I could redirect my focus to that blogging project…or that “figuring my life out” project.
I rode the “just married” high from the start of 2015 right through until the end of the month. With a stunning major life event over, it was easy enough to feel like the next goal-oriented chapter was beginning. This was going to be the year that I finally distilled my true “passion” from all of the fuzzy possibilities! This was going to be the year I “figured it out”! Plus, I was going to start my blog, and it was going to be all about the passion I had discovered! It was easy enough, too, to set up the domain name – click click click – and tell myself I had made progress. I was going to write and photograph and share my life with everyone and stop being so introverted and maybe something would come from it – and maybe it wouldn’t – but it was going to be fulfilling and I was going to feel like I was making progress.
And then nothing productive happened. Anxiety, however, did happen. Fear – propelled by that anxiety and by classic INFJ indecisiveness – took hold. After all, what was my “passion”? If I was going to write about it, it had to be a good one! And what was I going to share about it? To that end, what could I share that was worth anything? And really, why did I think I had to share it? I could sense my social media network rolling their big set of dry, bloodshot, screen-stymied eyes at me (definitely a sign that I was wayyyy too plugged in and wayyyy too concerned with what the online caricatures of my friends would think of me). Does she think what she wants from life, and what she has to say, is different, or interesting, or substantive? Who cares?
So the next part – the eight months of being incredibly frustrated with myself every day while also actively living my life every day – is the part where I should have tapped into everything I’d learned about doing good research in my five years of social science training. I had completely forgotten that the best way to figure anything out is by doing it. I had been doing it all along – the last eight months are literally filled with many things I love to do. But I was so hung up on having the most eloquent, most clever, most perfect purpose and on pleasing such a powerfully judgmental imagined audience that I had only one thing: a great setup for writer’s block. I was unable to recognize my frustration as an opportunity for investigation, as something that should be freeing, as something purposeful in and of itself.
Of course, when you’re viewing yourself as a directionless person wasting time and opportunity, it’s hard to think positively. And real, intense anxiety is not the kind of thing that brings great acumen to your perception of yourself or your reality.
It took me the better part of those eight months to realize that my original thinking – that blogging could bring me clarity, fulfillment, accountability, connection, and maybe even a career path – was a perfectly good enough purpose. And why do I have to have just one purpose, anyway? Why does my life need to take just one path? Why do I need to have just one hypothesis, about blogging or about my life?
The kinds of things that make social research so messy – the unpredictability of the world – are absolutely riddled throughout my life. I can’t do anything about the messiness (I have a feeling that’s where all the goodness is anyway). But I can go about this research project in the right way: by getting my feet wet, by asking good questions, by doing the work before trying to draw the conclusions I so desire, by accepting that I might not get the conclusions I’m hoping for, by knowing that the direction of my project will likely change.
I am starting this blog:
- Because I am an unashamed, self-declared casualty of the RIDICULOUS Gen Y notion that one must find one’s single “passion” and sally forth into adulthood pursuing exactly that. If there is a party celebrating the falsity of that belief – I have a feeling it’s been started – then I am late to it. But better late than never!
- Because I am tired of waiting to come up with exactly the right thing to post about. A self-imposed holding pattern grows awfully miserable.
- Because I believe that an intentional savoring of all that I enjoy is a timely mission for me. Aren’t I lucky enough to have in my life all of these delicious things worth savoring? Isn’t the descriptive data the colorful stuff of real life and the stuff that points me in the next direction?
- Because I want to change the terms of my relationship with technology and the world around me. I want my use of social media to be truthful, useful, impactful, and fulfilling. I want my relationship with what’s real to be richer, more colorful, and more appreciated.
- Because I want to do right by what I’ve known about myself for a long time: I love to write and it is my perfect tool with which to chip away, slowly but surely, at my everyday life.
- Because I want to carve out an intentional space for myself – and for others – to explore a variety of outlets for growth, understanding, and gratitude. This is not a food blog, a lifestyle blog, a travel blog, or any other kind of blog. Sure, I read each kind and enjoy them all. But if this is anything, it’s an earnest, varied self-improvement project.
- Because I want to make a record of my progress, and I want to share that with others.
- Because the possibilities are more important than the fear, and I am excited to see what might come of this: the people I might get to know, the opportunities I might have, and the more appreciative way I might live, to name a few.
All of this sounded very personal inside of my head. When I began to write it down, it suddenly read like something I might overhear someone else talking about and passively nod my head at in agreement. I think this could be a good sign – after all, anything worth doing is better for having meant something to someone else too, and research is sounder when it says something about a community. Beyond my personal goals, I hope that what I share here is encouraging, clarifying, entertaining, or enjoyable – or just something that rings true.
I hope you enjoy following along.
For a more concise version of this, and more about the blog’s title – and about me – click here.