I’ve been a blogger my entire adult life, publishing my first post in 2001 on an entirely different blog with an entirely different focus. Back then, blogs were called “web logs” or “online journals,” although I liked to call them “free therapy.” I fell in love with the platform instantly – the community it created, the posterity it promised. And although I’ve blogged for one trillion different reasons through one trillion different stages of life, my love for blogging has never changed:
In 2001, I blogged to find myself.
I was evergreen, a fresh Midwestern girl entering college in the fall. I was gifted a new computer as part of a scholarship package and although I’m sure my parents envisioned me using it to research statistics and bibliographies, I, instead, used it to write. I wrote every night during that first year of college, as a way of decompressing and discovering and emotionally vomiting on something that wouldn’t give me hand cramps or didn’t require ink refills. It was a beautiful time, and in keeping this nightly routine, I knew I wanted to write forever.
In 2002, I blogged to find people like myself.
There’s something emotionally jarring about your sophomore year of college. You move away from the convenience of dorm life, where everyone on your floor is your best! friend! ever! and you suddenly discover that, as a sophomore, friendships actually require a certain level of effort. To see your best friend, you no longer have to saunter across the hall to 4B in your bunny slippers. You must walk to the other side of campus, or God forbid, ride your bike across town to their apartment. Yes, as a sophomore, friendships actually command that you adorn proper footwear. So in 2002, I blogged to find a new community of friends; friends that didn’t require the need for a bus pass and bike lock. Friends that would congregate in the comment section of my blog, ready and willing to exchange ideas and thoughts and emotions. Friends likely donning bunny slippers, just like me.
In 2003, I blogged to find people unlike myself.
And then, all of a sudden, I realized I’d created a bubble. A thin film of content where everyone in my comment section was exactly like me. So I branched out, and I read other blogs and discovered new ideas, locations, attitudes. I became fascinated with alternative cultures and zip codes and people who didn’t shop at my local grocery store. And I became a better person for it.
In 2004, I blogged to become a writer.
It was that fascination with other lifestyles that led me to realize how much I loved the art of writing. How much I loved this platform, this blogging world that I’d unlocked. I’d had daily practice for years now, and I was honing my craft. I began submitting articles to publications, even scoring bylines in one of my favorite national reads. I blogged to practice sentence structures, the rhythm of words. The harsh sting of negative comments. The transfusion of ideas. I blogged to write.
In 2005, I blogged to avoid therapy.
The year I married my husband and moved to Los Angeles was the hardest year of my life. I took a job as a temp and floated around aimlessly for months while trying to navigate the 405 through my morning dose of tearful eyes. I was terribly homesick and existentially lost, battling weekly panic attacks and mild depression. So I blogged. I blogged to remember my roots while establishing new ones. I blogged to grow.
In 2006, I blogged to research.
By 2006, I’d landed my dream job as a copywriter at a boutique ad agency in L.A. And when the art director that was seated next to me suffered a nervous breakdown and fled the office one Tuesday morning, I raised my hand to take his place until a proper replacement was found. And I immediately began Googling ‘how to be an art director’ and cataloging hundreds of graphics and images and typography and kerning techniques until seemingly overnight, I understood the beauty of design. And I kept all of these images in one place: a new blog I called Design for Mankind. A place free of my thoughts, words and emotions, yet not void of myself.
In 2007, I blogged because I was obsessed.
I had entered the newlywed stage of my love for design, still working as an impromptu art director while unearthing a world of art, photography and interiors. I was completely enamored, spending endless weeknights sifting through artist links, international design journals and falling through the rabbit hole of the Internet. And as the readers poured in, I realized that there were others like me, either having already discovered their creative passions or those that were just beginning to stumble their way through it all.
In 2008, I blogged to share.
Something happened when readers would arrive at Design for Mankind. They would comment, and I would return the favor and visit the space they had carved out for themselves in their own blog journey. Some were blogging because they, too, were obsessed. Others were blogging to find themselves, just as I had back in 2001. Some were blogging to research, avoid therapy or become writers. Yet despite the many reasons, all were sharing parts of themselves. And I wanted to share, too. I began sharing business knowledge I had gained in college and in my years of marketing/advertising studies. I began sharing more detailed aspects of the people behind the work I had been featuring over the past few years. And most of all, I began sharing myself, snippets of my own words here and there, in the independent online magazine I self-published entitled Mankind Mag. It was refreshing. I had found my own version of creativity.
In 2009, I blogged to hide.
And just like that, I retreated. My husband and I moved back to the midwest from Los Angeles for family health reasons. And my personal life suddenly became a bit more complicated, a bit more heavy. And I could no longer pour myself into such a beautiful world of creativity when I was feeling so very… sad. So I continued to feature work from others, spotlighting their talents and qualities and immense creativity so I could keep my own in the dark. I co-founded a new media consulting firm with a good friend, hoping that if I could focus on others and give, give, give – that maybe my own passions might return. And for some reason, day after day, I continued blogging. I needed to.
In 2010, I blogged to create.
My husband and I began rebuilding (literally) a life for ourselves in Indiana, and with that re-birth came inspiration. I began documenting pieces of my life again, slowly, sharing creations of my own. Renovations, tutorials, advice, design projects. My home was my playground, and my blog became much the same. For the first time in months, I was having fun at work. And I wanted others to do the same.
In 2011, I blogged to teach.
I began traveling the country to teach creativity workshops, hoping to inspire others that were stuck somewhere along their journey. I was busy, working continuously, but it was rewarding. I was happy, seizing moment after moment. I recognized that blogging was a catalyst for more opportunities – to do more, help more, envision more. And that blogging looked differently for everyone at any given stage of their lives. Yet we all had something to share, and that’s why we all continued to blog.
In 2012, I blogged to discover.
I’ve been writing, in some form, my entire life. Harriet the Spy-esque composition notebooks, secret letters to pen pals, freelancing for shelter publications. Blogging, still. And I suppose I am blogging to find out what happens next. To see where this form of “online journaling” will take me – where the boomerang will return to once it leaves my fingertips. Maybe someone featured in this space will sell their first piece of art from one of my readers, planting a seed of confidence and creating one more much-needed artist in this world. Or perhaps another blogger will realize that she’s been blogging for all the wrong reasons, or all of the right reasons, or maybe for no reason at all except the only reason that matters: because she is.
In 2013, I blogged to connect.
As a new mother – frenzied and confused – I blogged to find a community with answers. I searched forums and Googled phrases and joined newsletters, hoping for a voice that would stand out among the crowd and teach me how to grow into this new stage of life. And the voices came – some in tiny whispers, others in loud booms – but of course, they didn’t sound melodic when jumbled together. They created dissonance, and I realized the only voice I was supposed to listen to was the one in myself.
In 2014, I am blogging for me.
It’s selfish, perhaps. But this year, something shifted. I began blogging for me again. To connect with myself, my own voice, my own story. To document this time of growth and learning and perspective. To think deeply about the legacy I want to leave my daughter and to allow myself the grace to grow into that new version of myself – one that isn’t measured by pageviews and valued by comments. One that is littered with intention and thought and gentleness with words. One that is slowly realizing she was made fearfully and wonderfully, created for a purpose.
One that is finally understanding the importance of telling your truest story, for many years to come.