The best lessons come by way of bruised knees and scraped elbows.
There are things people could have told me early on about blogging that wouldn’t have translated at the time. Because there are things that don’t make sense until you creep through the dark tunnels of this Internet writing journey with only a caving head lamp and a heap of faith to see your way through.
It’s hard, nearly impossible, to believe that I’ve now blogged on Twenties Unscripted for the same amount of time I spent earning a college education. I remember who I was when I started school and who I was when I graduated, and it hits me that the ways in which a person can metamorphose in only four years are unending and unexpected. It hits me that who I was when I purchased this domain and who I am now as I pen this post are two very different versions of myself, with Twenties Unscripted as the single most important thread to tie those two women together.
Nonetheless, I’ve managed to keep this little corner of the Internet lit with my fire, despite extinguishers sometimes blasting my way. I gave birth to something I believed in, nurtured it, helicopter-parented it at times to the point of agony, and finally started trusting in a little bit of what I learned along the way. If my bruised knees and scraped elbows from four years of blogging could grab the mic, here’s what I’m sure they would say.
Don’t be afraid to look back.
We hear a lot about the danger in looking back, the temptation to cover our memories in make up until they become unrecognizable. But a little reflection every now and again never turned anyone into Lot’s wife. Your blog is your evolution, accessible whenever you need a testament to how much you’ve grown and how much grace you needed. So, don’t beat yourself up too much when you read the posts you wish you would have waited to publish. Try not to scoff or cringe at all of the f-bombs you dropped in 2013. Blogging is a here and now kind of sport. It is about game time decisions. Whims of the heart. The audacity to click publish, time and time again.
And don’t spend too much time looking forward.
All of your plans on pretty paper and all of your goals on giant post it notes are no match for the Universe’s magic. Give her the space to pull rabbits out of hats. Resist the urge to litter every single month with some sort of plan in hopes of keeping yourself relevant. There comes a point where the work speaks for itself and no longer requires your megaphone. And that point only arrives when you leave enough space on the page for the Universe to fill in the blanks. The Universe cannot perform magic if you only leave the margins empty.
Don’t get so hungry for the future that you starve yourself of the present.
You’ve got to let life happen. You don’t have to wait for that life to make any sense before you write it down. But, you’ve got to let life happen and you’ve got to be there when it does. You won’t look back and regret the nights you didn’t blog; you’ll regret the nights you didn’t show up, the nights you flaked, the nights you said no to that you’ll never get a chance to say yes to again.
As a personal blogger, your mind is your business, so the boundaries teach other people how to mind their damn business. Give yourself permission to go off the grid without summoning guest writers to substitute your space. Say no and mean it. Find polite ways to tell people to go kick rocks. Let go of the need to explain your whereabouts or whys. The people who need to know where you are always will. Consistency matters, yes. So does your sanity. So does your freedom. So does the rhythm of your tiny beating heart.
Choose your tribe wisely. Then show up for them all the way.
Some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Say it again: some retweets and likes do not make a tribe. Your tribe is a group of creatives dependent on the land of their art to survive. Your tribe is not integrated into the trends of the broader online society. So once you sort through the riff raff and inevitable bullshit of the Internet, you’ll be left with your tribe. Those are the only people you really have to show up for. Those are the people you book bus tickets for, the people you clear a weekend for, the people you root on from your seat in the front row. Don’t let the pervasiveness and ease of social media fool you; there are moments where you simply need to be in the room and show your smiling face.
Remember that there is a pencil thin line between jealousy and admiration, one that gets harder to toe the more social media you consume.
Mute them if you need to, unfollow them if you must. Consume purposefully. Intentionally. Proactively. Deliberately. Go to the online spheres you adore when you are well and ready to taste them, without wanting to snatch their recipes or compare them to whatever’s cooking in your own kitchen.
And, above all else, always say what you need to say before considering what they need to hear.
You are not required to speak to the times or reflect popular culture or go viral. You are required, however, to write your heart out, to tell the truth, to tear down walls, to break chains, and to never give the page any less than you know you have.
Happy 4th birthday, Twenties Unscripted.