Someone recently asked me, “What is the hardest part of writing?” They asked, is it getting published; or, in the case of fiction, creating plot; or piecing sentences into something fluid, coherent? Of course, yes, all of the above, but what I said: “You always have to be honest. That’s the hardest part.”
March 2011, I ended a four-year relationship.
May 2011, I took to Tumblr.
At first my blog was private, until it wasn’t, until I chose to expose my great devastations to the Internet. I was in the prime of my quarter-life crisis – or I was lazy and unmotivated, whichever. I lived with an aunt and uncle in New Jersey, New York in walking distance, and I spent all day in bed. I entertained a brief hiking stint, which is only funny if you know me. And so, I wrote about it – I wrote about leaving home and going back; about the grey period between college and adulthood; about being alone in a very big, very harsh city; about what failure feels like. My posts have a small readership but still I received e-mails from London and Australia and miscellaneous cities throughout the States. I received e-mails from old friends and their friends. I was once recognized by a woman, was told I inspired her to apply to schools in New York. As anonymous readers wrote me their life story, detailed their recent career moves or break-ups, expressed their own hesitations about moving to new places, I learned vulnerability is universal. My pain is your pain is our pain. There is comfort there.
I never wanted to advertise my mistakes; I only intended to bandage a broken heart, however publically. I didn’t know that confessing fear or loneliness or defeat without having a solution could manifest something in someone, enough to inspire. We are all seeking acceptance; no one wants to be the lone person feeling this or that way. I am but one little Internet blogger who discovered our hearts all beat and break the same, for infinite reasons. In writing my reasons, in writing to heal myself, I found unity; I found company with whom I could heal.
So, what has writing for the Internet taught me?
I have learned to speak honestly, to never manipulate experience for social media, for anyone’s acceptance. When we are honest with ourselves and then defend that honesty in our words, in our actions, we find often we are understood. I have learned many of us live beneath false exteriors.
I have learned I am not alone. You aren’t either.
I have learned I cannot run away. There are nights I am lonely; there are days the writing is a burden. In those times I think running away – fleeing New York, appropriating my mother’s living room for familiarity and comfort – will solve things, and it will, momentarily, until it cannot. In writing for the Internet I have learned strength, to instill faith in time, to see all things as fleeting. My blog archive is a path to my past, and the growth in the years is apparent, palpable. I know now to stay and let be.
I have learned it is OK. It is OK to stay home on a Friday night, cry over Boy Meets world. It is OK to revel in the intimacy of a man so wrong for me during a lapse of better judgment, when I forget just what I am worth. We have all been there, done that. It is OK to delay adulthood in the wake of fear, or confusion, because stagnation cannot last forever, because at our core we are all, ultimately, fighters. It just takes a minute to realize.
It is OK to stay in bed. It is all right quitting and it is all right failing, so long as I recover, albeit gracelessly. It is all right internalizing all the things life hands you – the joy, the hurt, the everything between – and to feel this all with such vivacity it overwhelms. I learned, intensely, stubbornly, that it is all right being vulnerable. And it is all right inviting others to share in that moment, because we all experience those times we feel humbled, at our most raw and most desperately human, those times we recognize what life is, when it is all boiled down. Life is an opportunity to really feel.