As we begin the third year of the Unexpected Ever Afters blog, we are excited to share another mini-series, this time on the topic of our blog journey. We hope you enjoy our reflections!
In March, 2015, I wrote my first blog post. Although, before you go searching under “Author: Jessica”, I should let you know that it’s not on this blog site. In fact, you will not find it anywhere. The (now removed) post was a secret post on a secret blog site, that I literally told nobody about. That makes the post seem very scandalous, but I assure you, it was not. It was a post simply acknowledging that I loved to write and that I wanted to share my writing with the world. Why all the secrecy, then? Because as much as I wanted to share my writing, I was terrified. Terrified of someone else reading what I wrote, of feeling judged, of feeling seen, or, worse yet, being seen and then disregarded. So, I wrote in secret and, not surprisingly, that particular blogging adventure was short-lived. The lesson I learned from the experience was that as much as I loved to write, the blogging journey was not one that I was prepared to take on alone.
Years later, Wendi and I began to talk about our shared love of writing and our dream of using our writing to help others. In addition to sharing a passion for writing and a desire to help others, our conversations revealed that we also have a lot in common when it comes to the unexpected journeys in life. We exchanged a lot of “you too?” as we talked about the emotions and perspectives surrounding our life experiences. As we talked, we realized that we both especially struggled with the online highlight reel comparison trap and the isolation that spiral often generates. We also understood that genuine connection with others through shared vulnerability can make a huge difference in combating both comparison and isolation. That encouraging process of genuineness was something we wanted to expand upon. After thoughtful deliberation, we determined we were ready to dive into a shared blog as an attempt to both share that feeling of connection with others as well as provide an outlet for our interest in writing. Despite my “stage fright” of others reading my writing, I felt a surge of confidence knowing that I was not entering into the journey alone. I will always be thankful for Wendi’s willingness to write together and her bravery in pushing us to put ourselves out there for real, not just in secret.
While those conversations took place more than two years ago, I still smile thinking back on our hopes and goals for The Unexpected Ever Afters blog. This blog has been quite a journey! The month-long blog break in the lead-up to our second blogiversary gave me time to look over past posts, to really reflect on the blog journey, and to reexamine the goals of this blog. Returning to my very first post on our site, published almost exactly two years ago, I was filled with satisfaction as I re-read my quote:
“The goal in creating this blog and this community is to shatter the highlight reels and challenge the comparison trap. So I will share my own everyday stories, not hidden in perfection, but shaped through a lens of honesty, grace, and humor.”
That is the goal of this blog and the journey I set out to pursue by sharing my writing in this space. As I scrolled through the 35 posts I wrote in the two years since, I felt it all: the honesty, the authenticity, the mess of this beautiful, yet unexpected, life. The complexity and nuance was reflected off the pages, through carefully chosen words and thoughtfully edited stories. Of course, the blog journey has been in some ways different than we anticipated; however, in some ways it’s been exactly what we hoped for. This, too, fits with the “unexpected ever after” theme; a journey that doesn’t follow a linear daydream, but takes a path of its own, full of unexpected joys and take-aways.
Which brings me to an aspect I did not expect on this blogging venture: the personal value I have found in documenting genuine and vulnerable reflections of my everyday life. When we first started this blog, I had hoped that sharing some of the ups and downs of young motherhood, social work, and life in general would ideally help others by providing them an alternative to the perfection often portrayed through online social media platforms. However, the more I wrote and the more I took time to reflect on what I had shared, I found deep value being reminded by re-reading my own words that life is a messy and beautiful journey. For example, I am currently “the muck” of another tough month with unexpected twists of plans that feels like the difficulties will never end. However, as I re-read past posts, I realized that a year ago I wrote about being “Stuck in the Muck” and eventually found myself on the other side of that experience. Recently reading through this piece and the reflections I shared in it provided an unanticipated comfort in my own reminder that I have never been “stuck” forever. This difficult month, this tough situation, too, will pass.
While I have appreciated that my own reflections can offer comfort and encouragement to myself, my hope is that this can also be true when I potentially share these stories in the future with my grown children. I am thankful for the possibility that some of the recorded imperfect realities of my own unexpected experiences may provide them some comfort and companionship during their own adult days.
By sharing my stories, whether with my kids in the future or with a reader today, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with others through the journey of writing. The vulnerability of the reflections shared on this site has generated invaluable conversations of support with Wendi. Those conversations in particular have helped me grow as a person, as a mom, and as a friend. In addition, the laughs, shared experiences, and encouragement that I have found in talking about different posts with readers, in-person and online, have brought an unanticipated amount of joy to my life. I am thankful to all of our readers who continue to read our stories, share them with others, and encourage us along the way. Your support is deeply appreciated.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reflecting back over this blogging journey. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my writing on a platform that is read by others. And, I look forward to sharing more about my future writing dreams in Part 2 of this mini-series as our Unexpected Ever Afters blog journey continues.
Jessica is a wife, mom, school social worker, and aspiring writer. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters.
photo credit: personal photo
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