Why'd you decide to start blogging? Someone asked me that on Tuesday. My response wasn’t wrong -- but it wasn’t long, either. And that in itself made it a little wrong. Because the truth is, it’s complicated.
The other day, I was listening to a podcast hosted by a life coach. Traditionally, counselors kind of resent life coaches: they make more money than us for doing the same thing, all without burning two years on a graduate degree. Life coaches bring me back to the familiar space of questioning my Master's.
As a “retired counselor,” however, I’m allowed to listen in. The coach suggested that her audience make a list of their top 3-5 values, and then presumably make decisions based off that. (Not exactly the stuff of rocket scientists, but I hear those guys actually use their graduate degrees.)
For my part, I was so eager to begin the values exercise that I turned off the podcast ten minutes after it started. I began speaking out loud to myself in the car, the way you might if you were talking yourself down from a panic attack, practicing a speech, or hearing voices.
The first value was obvious: authenticity. That’s been my answer ever since I was thirteen, when being “authentic” meant wearing unisex anti-war t-shirts to school.
My next value: self-honesty. If authenticity is about reflecting an accurate (if occasionally unsavory) image to the world, self-honesty is about confronting those unsavory parts of ourselves.
And last: growth. I’m obsessed with the idea. There’s just no earthly reason that I should be the same person today as I was a year ago.
Back to the question: why am I blogging? Why have I decided to go from a completely inactive Facebook user -- someone who uses the app exclusively to stalk and to judge -- to someone posting the world’s most judge-worthy content?
With regard to my alcoholism, I blew my anonymity. With regard to an eating disorder, I blew the facade of being beyond that. I didn't share my truth with a subset of friends; I shared it with literally everyone. Why?
Three, bite-sized, blog-sized words: Authenticity, self-honesty, growth.
For better or worse, my drive to create something Authentic beat out my pride. Self-honesty told me I felt incomplete. Growth told me to get the hell out of my comfort zone.
Writing for myself as the only audience is a little like traveling alone. Sure, it’s judgment-free - but you can only stare at the view for so long. About eight months into sobriety, I spent four days in the mountains of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, all by myself. In a sense, it was useful: it allowed me lots of time for solitude and self-reflection.
But here’s the thing: I’m already a little long on both. My self-reflection tips over into gratuitous self-involvement at times. (Shocking, I know, for a girl with a blog.) After four solitary days, a friend joined me in San Juan.
And that's where the real learning began – that’s when I began to grow.
For example: I had to compromise on the Airbnb. I had to try salsa dancing, order mocktails, and say something when I was tired, or grumpy, or didn't feel good. I had to swallow my passivity and roundly reject an appetizer compromised entirely of olives, no matter how authentic they were. I broke some comfortable patterns. I grew.
Writing is the same way: I can't be sure what I'm missing by writing only to myself, but I know that I learn from the unexpected.
Writing for no one felt incomplete. Writing for some but not others felt suspiciously close to moderation, to which I am deathly allergic. I'm leading with my values – authenticity, self-honesty, growth – and they seem to think I need company.