Confession time: I have a blog.
When I started this blogging project, I was not quite sure what I was doing. The challenge was to venture deeper online, but like any good adventurer I was not sure what the end result would be.
37 blog posts later, with a number more published elsewhere, I feel like I have settled into a groove. While the final destination remains past the horizon, so too now does the beginning. If this was an epic movie, I would currently be in the travelling montage scene. I have just left the forest beyond home for scenes of mountains, deserts and savannas.
There has been one unexpected discovery so far. More than I expected, blogging has been shaped by my experience as a “twenty-something.” It has not been just my musings alone, but the postings of many of my friends that has confirmed this. There is something about blogging as a “twenty-something” that just is characteristically different from the mainstream opportunistic hype of blogging like a “professional” or “to promote your brand.”
(Tangent alert: two good books on the twenty-something experience I have read this past year are You Lost Me by David Kinnaman and The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay. I’ll be taking recommendations for more over the next 6 ½ years.)
Everyone needs a creative outlet or two. If you are a twenty-something, and playing guitar just does not hack it for you, let me suggest some reasons you should look into blogging (or, if you once did but have not for a while, finding that old password and logging back in).
1. Because you are not an expert –
Sorry to burst your bubble, but even if you started a PhD before the insurance companies would let you rent vans, there are plenty of people who have been studying and practicing whatever it is you are so passionate about for longer than you have been alive. And for the rest of us, we’re no wiser.
But that’s okay.
When I was creating this blog, I almost gave it the name “blåögd” – a Swedish word which literally means “blue-eyed” (also roughly my eye color) but also connotes a sense of being naïve or unsuspecting. I dropped the name, but kept the attitude: this is the little I know, and these are the connections I can make.
In a related note, my twenty-something sister and her twenty-something friend have a podcast straight-up called “I Dont Know Things” where they literally dialogue about things they are not supposed to know much about. It is a messy process, but by the end they seem to succeed in saying something.
As twenty-somethings, we may not be wise sages, but neither are we completely without learning or life experience. We are clever enough to articulate the complicated things we witness in the world, but youthful enough to not have a foregone era color our view of the present. If we are bold enough to say what is going on in our mind, we will find that we are often wrong, but not without breathing some new life into the world we are entering into.
2. Because you are not held accountable to the thoughts in your journal –
I have accumulated a stack of journals. The first one lasted about five years and pretty much is exclusively devoted to my high school crushes. The second details my freshman year of college. Things picked up after the third, each one lasting roughly four to six months at a time.
Journaling is a great exercise. It allows us to get real with ourselves, to document the story of our lives, to slow down the thoughts and feelings in our head to the speed of pen and paper.
This blog project is in many ways the overflow of the journaling habit. I have turned enough journal entries into blog posts, however, to know that journaling and blogging are two different beasts indeed. Knowing that the crowd may see your writing forces you see your own ideas from at least a dozen more perspectives. Blogging raises the bar. Blogging makes you consider how confident you actually are in things that made a lot more sense in your own little Moleskine universe.
Blogging, in short, keeps a twenty-something accountable. For those of us who are no longer in school, free from the crucible of grades and academic rigor, this is definitely important. But if you happen to still be in school, it perhaps is not a bad idea to occasionally free your writing from the tyranny of the syllabus.
(Vice versa moment: I would further suggest that if you are having trouble blogging, try getting deeper into journaling. Shoot some hoops in the backyard if you only get a case of nerves in the campus rec center.)
3. Because you have friends, not a following –
Numerous twenty-something blogs are launched in the tense moments before a grand trip abroad or even in the boredom of underemployment. There are a few strong posts to start off, but then the postings reduce to a trickle. A few months later a post appears with the opening lines “Sorry I have not been blogging much lately! Here is everything I need to catch you up on…” and the blogger proceeds to combine what could be a dozen great blog posts into one mushy jumbled mess.
Some blogs require regular postings – the brand-promotion and expert-wisdom kinds. But twenty-somethings do not need to worry about this, because the goal of twenty-something blogging should not be to build a following but to communicate with friends.
The neat thing is, friends are pretty forgiving if we take a hiatus from blogging. To remind them that we have a blog, all we have to do is write a new post and link to it on our Facebook timeline (other whatever networks we choose to use to connect with friends).
In fact, I can guarantee that your friends will appreciate it if, when you feel like you do not have something quality to say, you simply do not post anything. The era of social media and the information age have collided in an overwhelming data flood, and the less background noise we produce the better. My publishing quota for this blog isn’t one post daily or three posts weekly – instead, the rate I have gone at is the rate at which I feel like I have something valuable to say.
Lately that has been three times a month, but I have also posted at the rate of once every three months.
However frequent or infrequent, my friends are of the sort which will read what I have to say when I say it. And ever since I have started blogging, I have begun paying closer attention to the blogs of many of my friends. It may not make anyone famous, but this is what twenty-something blogging at its best looks like.
4. Because blogging introduces you to new friends –
There was one more, rather therapeutic, reason I have been motivated to continue the blog project. I am very much an external processor – I have to share my thoughts with someone else before I can own up to them. The problem is, however, my interests do not always match up with those of my friends.
Whether on campus or off, I have spent the last three years living in community houses. Starting the blog was perhaps the best thing for my relationship with the roommates, who no longer had to endure my late night musings on things like how “economics and religion are essentially the same thing” and “that protest downtown was a well-intended load of crap” or even “what a football game teaches us about the metaphysics of the universe.”
Sometimes the most any of my posts get are a few likes on Facebook, and that is okay. But a number of these blog posts grab the attention of an acquaintance, a friend-of-friend, or even a close friend whom we never knew that we cared about the same things.
Sadly, a number of offline interactions with these people have been “Hey-Kaleb-I-read-your-blog-post-and-I-really-liked-it” and then they proceed to change the topic as if they just peeked into my one journal from high school with all the crushes in it. But more interactions still have opened up to the type of lengthy conversation that leads to (re)new(ed) friendships. All thanks to the incredible power of the internet to make connections.
This is the opportunity we have, so go ahead. If you have the itch, look around for a blogging platform that meets your needs and log-in. You are quite ready for an adventure of your own.