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!
Each year as we approach our blogiversary, Wendi and I discuss whether or not to continue our blog. Although the conclusion has always ended with a “yes of course we are going to continue,” the decision is never simple. We are two self-identified over-thinkers, and we never let a decision pass by unanalyzed. So, together, we contemplate the goal of the blog followed by a version of a cost-benefit analysis. We question if we still have stories to tell or if we have exhausted all of our topics. We consider if writing still brings us joy and if we feel like what we share still matters. In the end, the conversations leave us with clarity and renewed energy to continue to share our stories. In Part 1 of this mini-series, we reflected on why we initially started this blog. In Part 2, we look toward the future of The Unexpected Ever Afters, while sharing insight into why we said “yes” to continuing our blog writing journey.
For me, writing is a constant balance of confidence/doubt, motivation/exhaustion, and hope/fear. These conflicting emotions exist within nearly every post I write. In some ways it is because of these layers of opposing sentiments that pursuing the goal of this blog is possible. Our goal is to “provide an alternative to the image of perfected bliss that is often found online. We strive to be real, authentic, and honest about the ups and downs of everyday life.” If the posts were written exclusively with confidence and excitement, our aim of authenticity would be difficult to meet. It is precisely because of our indecisiveness, over-analyzing, and doubts that I feel we are able to vulnerably write a more realistic portrayal of life.
I find it interesting to look at decisions through the lens of cost versus benefit. Because there are, of course, costs involved in continuing the blog. The monetary investment is minimal as Wendi and I do our own writing, editing, and design. However, there is a significant amount of time invested in writing our posts, not to mention our process of reviewing and editing each other’s work. However, despite the extensive time commitment, the benefits have continuously proven to outweigh the costs. For example, I frequently find myself saying, “If this post only existed to give me the opportunity to process and articulate this situation and to give and share feedback [through the editing process], then it would still be worth it.” Sometimes the biggest benefit to the habit of writing is simply the opportunity to take the time to really think through situations, decisions, and emotions. By painstakingly choosing words and sentences to capture what I truly feel or experience, I find myself better understanding aspects of my own life. And, when the posts are published onto our site and the words go further than just between Wendi and I, it is all extra, a benefit that adds joy and excitement to the blogging experience.
It is interesting though, when my motivation and confidence extend beyond the exhaustion and doubt, that is when fear chooses to take over. Fear tries to convince me that my words have simply run out. Fear accuses me of being an imposter, resharing words and stories that have already been said. I find fear to be the trickiest. Because it lies. I wrote in my post Breathe, Truth, and Hope, “Sometimes I picture fear like a monster that is blocking the view of everything that is logical, true, and happy. Of course, the monster is always shouting loud enough that I can’t hear anything other than the lies it is saying.” And, this applies here as well. Writing is scary. Sharing writing is especially terrifying. Every time I push “publish” on a new post, my hands shake. Even though we have entered our third year of blogging, fear still impacts my writing experience. But, where fear is, hope is also. And, I frequently remind myself that my hope for this blog is that our words and stories reach people when they need them. Anne Lamott wrote, “Love and goodness and the world’s beauty and humanity are the reasons we have hope.” And, I feel that is what we are doing here, sharing love and goodness, but not just veiled in perfected beauty, but beautiful because of the shared humanity. And, when I remind myself, sometimes over and over again, of this truth, the fear is smaller, and so, I continue to write.
It is with these goals and benefits in mind that we say yes to writing, to continuing this blog, to sharing our honest, authentic stories. As we enter into this third year, I want to thank you for reading, for joining us on this journey, for sharing our words with others. I am thankful, excited, and full of nerves, for all that is yet to come.
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