Dear reader

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Dear reader,

2017 is the year I want to “become a blogger.” It’s the year I want to create a community of readers so we can inspire and support each other through ups and downs.

I’ve spent far too much time these past few weeks “researching” how to be a blogger. How do I create an editorial calendar? How do I grow email lists? What should I use social media for? What does a good post look like?

Ultimately, all this reading left me feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. I think I just have to dive right in. I have to have the courage to share my content knowing the blog isn’t perfect. But then again, I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress.

My first semester teaching at UNC, I made a WordPress site as a classroom management tool for my class of freshmen. I called it “Work in Progress,” explaining to the students that the website, the class, them, and me were all works in progress and that was okay. In fact, it was ideal. Going into difficult endeavors, especially processes and tasks we’ve never done before, we fear what will happen because we don’t know what the outcome will be. But if we go into them with a fixed mindset, thinking we are finished products and we know everything there is to know–that no person or experience can teach us anything new–then what are we getting up every day for?

So this is my love letter to you, dear reader. This is me telling you that I am new at this and I am learning. This is me telling you that I wish I was more savvy at creating content, navigating social media, and managing this blog, but we all have to start somewhere. I hope you’ll join me as I learn the ropes.

When I was in high school, I blogged religiously. Does anyone remember the diary-x platform? I had several usernames, but I posted on one in particular almost every day for most of high school before their servers crashed and everything was lost. I posted unabashedly, knowing that tons of people I knew were reading it and because we were in high school they were judging me so harshly, but I posted anyway. It caused some drama, if I’m remembering correctly, but I posted anyway.

That blog was for me. It had no filter. But I want this blog to be for my readers. So I want you to tell me what you want to read on here. Maybe the posts from November and December will give you a small taste of the type of content I like to write, and I have a few ideas lined up, but I’d also like to know my audience. I like writing these sort of loose, long-form posts, but all the bloggers I read have neat little packages, with very specific structures and always a list of some kind. If lists are appealing to you, will you let me know?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m writing my list of #thingsimafraidtotellyou. Jess Lively started this in the blogging world in 2012, and when I listened to TLS #186 this past week, I knew it was something I needed to address on here. I’ve been building up content and planning and scheming since November, but I still haven’t shared the blog. It’s because I’m afraid. So:

  1. I’m deeply afraid, still, of rejection and judgment.
  2. I’m afraid I’m not equipped to manage negative feedback. I’m afraid I don’t have what it takes to receive criticism.
  3. I’m afraid the criticism will be a classic self-fulfilling prophecy, mirroring the false and negative beliefs about myself I’ve been working so hard to overcome.
  4. I’m afraid that so far I’ve gotten by strictly on likeability, and making myself visible and promoting myself will make me less likeable.
  5. I’m afraid I’m not social enough to build a following.
  6. I’m afraid readers will wonder who I am to speak, what authority I have to share.
  7. I’m afraid I’ll never be prepared enough.
  8. I’m afraid everyone else is doing it better. I have nothing new to add.
  9. I’m afraid I can’t write.
  10. I’m afraid I’m still the same girl who can’t act for fear of criticism.

Those are the things I’m afraid to tell you about this blog. Here are the things I’m afraid to tell you about 2017:

  1. When I think about getting certified as a professional life coach and starting my own business one day, I feel expansive. I don’t know anything about business, but I am confident that I can learn. However, sometimes, the old inner critic whispers in my ear, “You? A coach? Okay, Mallory. Sure. I can’t wait to watch you fail miserably.”
  2. When I think about certification and business at the same time as PhD work, I feel constricted and panicky. Knowing my comprehensive exams are in 9 months, I feel like giving up. The old impostor syndrome creeps in, telling me I’m not smart enough to pass exams.
  3. I worry that my peers will judge me for earning this degree without the intention of going on the tenure-track job market. I worry they will judge me because I don’t want to publish or go to conferences. I worry they will think my coaching business dream is a joke. I worry they will think I took someone else’s spot in this program who wanted it more. How can I explain that it’s just part of my journey? Do I even need to explain?
  4. Everyone hated 2016 so much on social media and in real life, and I am afraid to share that on a personal level it was my best year ever. It was the year I decided to own my life. In 2017, I want to be able to build on everything I learned last year.
  5. I’m worried about money.
  6. People must think I’m immature or selfish because marriage, a mortgage, and kids haven’t been priorities for me. I’m just not there.

So thus ends my love letter to you, reader. It’s all out on the table.

I’m learning more and more about authenticity and resiliency and playing big and turning to my inner mentor rather than my inner critic. I don’t know exactly what will happen this year, but I know that I’m going to lean into the process, the day to day, and share what I learn along the way. I know that it’s going to be a year of hustle, but I have learned that to hustle, I must rest as well. I’ll be working on letting go of my obsession with outcomes and measures of productivity and perfection and comparison and work as self-worth. I’ll be taking care of myself.

Will you join me as I learn to do meaningful work from a place of centeredness and calm? Will you join me as I document proactivity, beginning with the end in mind, and putting first things first? As I embrace process over product? As I work from a place of curiosity and love of learning? As I stumble along the way and reach out for support but also trust the voice of self-compassion I’m developing within? I hope you will.

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2 thoughts on “Dear reader

  1. The best blog you can write is the blog that you enjoy writing. Stay true to yourself. You are a good writer. And you have life experience. Several years ago, I was stressed with work, financially unstable and my personal life was in shambles. What helped me get through that was to remember that life is not a railroad with only one path, but an ever-changing hike with highs and lows. Diverting from the railroad is not failing. Because there are no “right answers”. Everyone’s path is different and nobody knows what you need more than you. Trust yourself. Share your experiences. Readers can learn from your successes and empathize with your struggles. Like you said to your freshman, we are all a work in progress. You. Got. This!

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