10 years ago I started this space. It was the middle of the blogosphere heyday. The internet was awash with personal narratives. Mom blogs and cooking blogs, blogs about travel and fashion. I didn’t know where I fit in. The rise of academic quit lit hadn’t yet happened. Even though I had ideas and an angle and a name, I had so much imposter syndrome. I was struggling with academic writing and maybe that meant I was a bad writer altogether. Would anyone read my terrible writing? Did it matter if anyone read anything I wrote? Ten years ago, I was drowning in graduate school and parenting and grief and marriage and friendship. I needed to reassure myself that I could write. So I started.
My writing wasn’t personal at first. I was testing out writing sociology but for real people. The more I wrote, the easier it became to work through my own thoughts and experiences, frustrations and successes by committing my feelings to this space. When I pressed publish on something that felt extra personal or controversial or vulnerable, I worried. I still wondered whether I had anything to say or whether my writing resonated with anyone. Ten years ago, I didn’t like taking risks without knowing the payoff.
I just kept trying, though. In writing honestly and openly for public readers, I realized I had more to say. So I said those things. There are documents and notebooks and snippets that never even made their way on to the blog. For every post, there are a half dozen drafts. I spent several NaNoWriMo Novembers desperately trying to crank out hundreds of thousands of words. I wrote the start of a play, half a memoir, a nonfiction manuscript. Ten years ago, I hoped I’d write a play or a book, but I didn’t know if that would ever be possible.
And in sharing and writing, I created opportunities for myself outside of Rogue Cheerios. Blog posts about academic motherhood, frustration with higher education, an honest account of leaving academia in a book chapter. I started telling stories on stage. I co-hosted a podcast for several years. And even if the feedback wasn’t a tsunami of emails or readers, I heard from people that hearing my words, that sharing my stories mattered to them. The sharing galvanized something in me. It got me out of my head, and it helped me conquer that imposter who dreaded pressing publish. I felt lonely with my thoughts bottled up in my mind, but in sharing I wasn’t so alone in my own thoughts anymore.
It is impossible to see the arc of anything at the beginning. Life’s micro moments don’t amount to much on their own. In every essay or post, I was capturing life’s micro moments for myself, allowing myself to see how they related to each other, and I was growing despite and because of them. In writing and rereading and reflecting on the last ten years, I’m not the same me that I was when I initially pressed publish. There’s a version of me who would never begin without knowing the entire arc of it all.
Everything I’ve documented, all of life’s micro moments, have built up and melted into one another. They have swelled, shifted, and calcified. A moment that seemed monumental, phenomenal, even catastrophic was washed out, papered over, and obliterated by another monumental, phenomenal moment. When I thought something couldn’t be worse or couldn’t be better, I found a new better and (sometimes) a new worse. The changes may be imperceptible to others, in many ways I am the same gregarious, positive, optimistic person. But in some ways rereading, reflecting and writing I am more me. Happier than I’ve ever been, devastated as I’ve ever been.
Looking in the rear view, I am so thankful that I wrote things down. Initially, I might have checked Rogue Cheerios stats, surprising myself with the reach of an essay or the feedback from strangers. But I was doing more than capturing eyeballs or amassing readers. Wrangling snippets of thoughts and feelings into shape and onto a page forced me to make sense of those micro moments and over time to make sense of the pile of moments. Sharing those fears and hopes, sharing the devastating moments and the points of pride, those words are breadcrumbs, leading me back to me.
These posts are a gift. 10 years of words. The very best keepsake jar.
Thank you (truly) for reading any of it.