4 years ago. I was 24 — turning 25 in October. I had graduated college in 2008 — in the worst recession according to our commencement speaker — and I had been working retail at Forever 21 and then had quit and tried to find something more in my field. That summer I was working 1-2 days a week at a magazine trying to pay my dues. Still living at home. I was really into Goodreads and had made a lot friends in the groups. I had gotten back into reading again after my sad years of not reading. I had a crazy idea to start a book blog. I had no idea what I was doing but had seen a couple. I grabbed a group of my Goodreads friends and we started The Broke and the Bookish and I was addicted and started this blog a couple days later.
I remember that summer I started my blog so well. The World Cup was on and I got up every morning at 6am to watch the games throughout the day and, while I did that, I would work on my blog and talk to people on Twitter/try to figure out that damn Twitter thing and try to be involved in the blogging community which was WAY smaller and quite a bit different then. I was underemployed and it was a fun way to spend my days. 4 years ago I would never imagine that here I would be on a summer day during the next World Cup writing a post about blogging for 4 years. I was a serial hobby dropper so I thought it was just going to be a fun little thing I did for a bit.
But here we are. 4 years later. You’ve seen me through a lot.
And it’s crazy because my life has changed so much because of book blogging. Sure, some of this was just growing up but also I think blogging really helped it.
1. I’ve become so much more confident than I ever was: I was thinking about this while I was navigating my huge suitcase, purse and two huge tote bags through NYC and then to Penn Station after BEA was over. Before blogging, I would have NEVER traveled to NYC by myself. Or Chicago for RT Convention and to hang with my friends. I would have never. I’ve become more confident in networking and talking to authors. More confident in SHARING my opinions without feeling nervous. More confident to make a fool out of myself and not care. More confident to not shy away in groups. I would have NEVER made Youtube videos because I would have felt way too self conscious. I’ve become more confident to be vulnerable to complete strangers (though most of you are friends now) and to admit my life is not perfect. There are a 100 ways I could tell you I’ve become more confident. I know Will could agree with me on this. I’ve become a more confident person and I love it. I own what I think and what I feel and I put it out there. I do things that scare me or previously scared me. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come.
2. I’ve found my best friends who have gotten me through some awful times in the past 4 years: I have met some of my best friends because of book blogging. They are not my internet friends. They are my best friends. They came to my wedding or were at least invited but geography is a bitch. They are the people I talk to about personal things before anyone else. They are the people who encourage me, give me the dose of honesty I need, make me laugh and just are always THERE for me. Best friends aside, I’ve met some people who I am very close with and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the support that has been there for me. The conversations I’ve had. I’ve met my people and I’ve learned to be a better friend through the blogging community. I’ve learned to be a better human I think, too. It’s amazing to me how I have a better support system than I ever have before and I am so thankful.
3. I’ve become more myself than I ever was: Before I started blogging I felt a little lost. I was hiding a lot of who I was and what I loved because there were people in my life who didn’t like it. I tried to fit in. To blend in. To stop being so “weird” and “quirky”. I just played it safe and didn’t shake up what I had. I was afraid to admit to some of the things I liked for fear of judgment. I know there’s the notion that people can be anything they want online and can pretend…but the opposite has been true for my time online. I’ve never become more myself than I am online. The book blogging community has helped me embrace all the things about myself that I was afraid to share. It’s helped me to become my truest self and I am beyond thankful for that. Because now I don’t give a damn. I like what I like. I refuse to pretend to ever be less than anything I am and people can take it or leave it.
4. My writing has improved: I have always loved writing but blogging has helped me to become better. I’m still not an amazing writer and I’m still jealous of a lot of you and how talented you are but I’ve really learned to hone my skills. And who would have ever thought that I would want to write a book before?? A story that is so personal to me, that I’m scared of. But blogging has helped me to realize I can do that. Even if it never gets published. Even if it’s not good. I can do that.
5. I’ve learned SO much to help me in my career: I’m laughing because 4 years ago I didn’t not even know what HTML was. I didn’t know how to make graphics or DESIGN MY OWN BLOG. I’ve learned so many skills through blogging. My background has been in social media and marketing before I got laid off and blogging and creating a community has been invaluable. The grassroots kinds of things I’ve done has only complemented the things I did professionally and I had a great boss who would help me learn things by using my blog as an example. I’m sure there are some prospective employers who don’t see the value in what I’ve done here in 4 years but I know it’s only helped me to learn and be better when I do find a position again. And to be honest, I find myself with this desire to get into publishing. Something I never thought of before.
6. I’ve come in contact with books that have changed my life: I’ve read books that have helped me to still process my mom’s death (because it never goes away..it just changes). Especially this book. I’ve not felt so alone in my grief while reading these books. Sometimes losing someone can feel so lonely, even when you know others have, and reading these books have seriously helped me to better deal with it and not feel so ALONE. Part of being human is loss and I’ve never felt so connected to humanity until I started reading these books that deal with this. The one book that has TRULY changed my life, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, I would have NEVER picked it up without blogging because I read vastly different things. But that book changed my life. Like literally made me take action and change some things in my own life. Allyson is a character who is so dear to me and I can never thank Gayle Forman enough or even try to put into words what that book did for me. Sometimes a story just resonates with your life so much. That was this book and I read it when I needed it most.
I could name a lot more things of how my life has changed (because some pretty COOL things have happened to me/I’ve got to be a part of amazing things because of all of this) but those were the 6 things I think that stood out to me the most. (You can read about all the ways my reading and bookish habits have changed since blogging).
So, as we go into this next year of blogging:
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for your friendship, your support and your words.
Thank you for not making me feel like I’m just shouting unheard into the void that is the internet.
Thank you for your book talk and your recommendations.
Thank you for advice, your honesty and your willingness to get vulnerable with me sometimes.
Thank you for accepting me for who I am — flaws and all.
Thank you for being patient with me when I’m slacking on blogging and trying to figure things out — when things have prevented me from replying back or commenting on your blogs. I promise you I value every SINGLE comment.
Thank you for disagreeing with me and helping me see new perspectives.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
Just thank you. For the things I haven’t said.
And as a little thank you, let’s do a giveaway. I wish I could do more but unfortunately, if you’ve followed my journey, it’s just not possible at the time. One day, I promise.
Rules: Open to anywhere The Book Depository ships!! Must be 13 years or older! Ends July 4th!
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