Blogging changed my life. They say the truth will set you free and, boy, is that ever true in my case. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like a fraud; a child living in an adult’s body or vice versa. Even when I appeared to be in the know or popular, I felt like I wasn’t and at any minute I would be found out and revealed for the dork I truly was. I’m very social and I appear to be confident but really, I spent most of my life feeling like I never truly fit in because very few people ever really knew the real me. I had secrets, like we all do, but by not sharing them they were weighting me down, choking me out. This left me feeling like I was living a lie. I needed to be me, in all of my glorious imperfection.
Then I started blogging (like no one was reading because back then no one was) and I decided that I was going to go big or go home and I wrote my truth with no filter and it felt amazing. It only got scary when I realized that people were reading. The first time I went to BlogHer people, strangers by all rights, came up to me and hugged me with knowing looks in their faces. They had read my stories. They knew “Truthful Mommy” more so than some of the people who had known “Deborah” my entire life. That was a humbling and overwhelming feeling for me. I realized that my words were powerful and meant something to somebody because someone else understood and had felt what I felt. We were linked forever by our words.
I used to be afraid to dream too big. I was afraid that letting myself wish too hard would only end in failing catastrophically. This was my life. Sounds sad, right? But after a lot of letting down and disappointment, I learned not to want for more. In all honesty, I was terrified of trying and even more so of failing.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a small child. It was a grandiose, unattainable goal in my mind. It certainly wasn’t practical. I couldn’t allow my heart to want it, though it longed for it with every fiber. I wrote words like I breathed air. I had to, it was compulsory. Words are how I process emotion, without them, it would all be too much.
I take the world and all that’s happened to me in it, I take it inside to my quiet still place and I sort it, making sense of life by spitting it back out onto paper. When I think of the moments of my life that I’ve shared with the universe simply because it was the only way to survive it, I lose my breath. I am exposed and vulnerable. But isn’t that what it’s supposed to feel like when you make the decision to take the blind leap in pursuit of happiness?
A couple weeks ago, I went to a the BlogHer conference in New York City. You know those moments when the stars align and you find yourself in this surreal, magical place in the world where fantasy meets reality and you can feel the momentum pushing you forward to chase those dreams? That is what BlogHer is for me.
For some, a blog conference is a place to learn to blog or a place to network with companies, in the hopes of making a hobby a career or for some, a dream a reality. Some people come for the swag and others for the parties. I come for the people.
For me, it’s more than just a place to learn about SEO, social media and translating your metrics. It can be about finding your voice and honing your craft and for some, it’s all about business connections. But for me, it’s a place to be amongst my people, my friends; a place to feel I belong completely.
The people who held my fragile heart while I tried my hardest to survive my miscarriage, these are the same women who helped me navigate the toddler years and now the tweens. Women who held me in their virtual and real arms as I wearily bared my soul and shared the story of my diagnosis.
Women who look to my stories of surviving eating disorders and embracing forgiveness after years of being abused as a child for their own inspiration. These are people who have read my inner most thoughts and most personal stories and not judged me. My fellow bloggers, my readers, they know me on a level that most people in real life don’t. This is why I go.
It’s not like going to a conference with a bunch of strangers; it’s like going home. It took me a long time to find my people, years. I didn’t go to my first blog conference until 2013 and when I did, I knew, this was where I belonged. These are my people and even though it might be expensive and inconvenient to travel in the middle of the summer, away from my family, I need those connections with my blogging world. I need to go to this place where people really get me and what I do; a place where I can say I am a blogger and not get dismissive or bewildered looks. Go to a place where other people write their vulnerable truths and understand the power of honesty; the weight of words. It is everything.
Because of blogging, I can answer anyone who asks the question, “What do you do?’ Proudly and with confidence, “I am a writer.” I used to be embarrassed to say it because it was like saying, ” I am an artist or I’m an alien.” People just look at you like you’re touched in the head and not based in reality but because of blogging, I have a resume, I have bylines all over the Internet and I actually get paid to do what I love from the comfort of my own home office. I travel and I work with amazing companies to change the world, in some cases, all because I dared to dream. Blogging gave me the courage to follow my dreams because it allowed me to share my stories and find my people. Blogging changed my life.