When I first placed my fingers on the keyboard and published my thoughts to the Internet, I had no idea what I was doing. Helping myself cope with my new celiac diagnosis, sure. But helping others was an even bigger goal.
Since my first blog post (an embarrassing "About Me" that I leave published only to remind me where I started) went live two years ago, more than 200 posts have followed. Even more memories have formed. And more lessons been learned, five of which stand out in my mind.
First, blogging has taught me how to be open. Although it may seem strange for a blogger, I grew up very private and shy. As a Marine brat, it felt easier to wield an invisible suit of armor than admit I often cried over my deployed dad or worried about fitting into a new school. For a long time, vulnerability equaled weakness in my mind.
And then I started digitally tattooing every celiac challenge, triumph and surprise on the web. Once you post pictures of you rockin' a nose tube and no makeup on the Internet, shyness basically becomes moot. I certainly don't stress my every thought or embarrassing moment, but if people ask something - about celiac, my food, or my life - I don't mind answering. No truth serum needed!
On a similar note, blogging has also shown me that the scariest posts to publish are often the ones that will speak the loudest. I remember emailing my mom a draft of "Self Love with Celiac" at two in the morning, asking if I should post it. Butterflies were throwing a disco party in my stomach when I pressed "publish," but that post is one of my most popular pieces to date. Same with my updates from the hospital.
Now, there could be many reasons for the correlation. Just one peak at the shows on TV reveals that emotion, drama, and struggle sells. But I believe "fearful" blogging is more than even that. It's authentic, fear arising from the act of leaving one's soul vulnerable to the Internet. I can honestly say that posts like those don't get any easier - but they don't get any less rewarding either.
The same can be said about blogging itself which, when done right, usually isn't easy. These two years quickly taught me that everyone has to find their own blogging schedule and subjects. And comparison is nothing but a copycat trap.
Sure, sometimes I still wonder if I've found my real niche. If I should join What I Ate Wednesday's and Thinking out Loud Thursday's and Link Love Fridays like many popular bloggers do. But then I look back at what I've written so far, even at the overly simple initial posts. And I'm proud.
Because what I've written speaks to me (a college celiac trying to kick life's gluten free buns) and my goal of helping others do the same. And that's the whole point of writing, right?
Besides the most rewarding aspect of blogging, of course: connecting with people from all over the world, every kind of background and any circumstance. I've always loved writing since I learned to read (at a fashionably late pace). But I never realized the impact it could have.
But since I started blogging, I've received comments from a father who wanted to show my body image post to his young, celiac daughter. From a gluten eating man about to marry the love of his life (celiac and all). From thousands of well wishers sending healing thoughts to me, a hospitalized stranger. And from members of my own family who have watched me shrink, struggle and finally bloom.
The fact is, blogging has proven that you never know. You never know who will find the words they needed to hear in your latest post. You never know what words will fly from your fingertips late at night or how your personal battles will speak to a more universal war. Or how much you will come to rely on blogging for clarity, escape and a quirky outlet. (And getting to sample and review some killer gluten free foods doesn't hurt either!)
When I began blogging, I didn't know what I was starting. Today, though, I'm more than five lessons wiser. And I know for sure that I won't be stopping anytime soon.
What has blogging taught you? Can you relate to any of these lessons? Comment below!