“I think I’m going to start a blog.”
It’s not a point of pride how many times I’ve optimistically uttered this ambitious declaration. Film blog, writing blog, fitness blog, food blog, dog blog; whatever the kind of blog, I’ve probably tried to start one. I’ll tell the few friends I trust with this sacred information, get the layout just right, pick out themes for each day and meticulously plan out my posts, even write enough to capture a moderate level of interest. But the blog of my dreams never materializes, because after a couple posts, I’ll be writing and suddenly feel incredibly stupid and think to myself, why am I doing this. No one cares. I don’t really have that much to offer. There are a million blogs with prettier layouts and more dedicated authors than mine.
About a month ago, I made a decision a little less ambitious than starting a blog: changing my entire life.
Once I’ve reached a place of ultimate zen and have achieved what I’ve set out to achieve, I wrote in my journal (which is actually just a google doc titled “Helf Selp”), I’ll start a blog, and then maybe I’ll have something useful to impart to people, and can help in some way. I don’t really care if I only help one person, but once I help myself, maybe I could. I think there’s a lot I could share about my own experiences, but first I want to have some successes and progress of my own.
Recently, after a couple weeks of meticulously following the rigorous goals I’ve set for myself, I realized something: maybe I don’t have to be perfect or reach the ultimate, zen-est state of goal achievement to be able to write about my journey. Maybe it would be equally helpful to write about the transformative process and my frantic self. Maybe no one will care. Regardless, half the point of this thing was to get myself writing again, so here I am — writing!
Lately, I’ve been trying to make big changes, and that comes along with big challenges, big triumphs and some trial and error missteps, but I’ve also realized that you can never truly arrive at the destination of ultimate goal achievement and fulfillment, because there are always things you can do to grow and change. The process is ongoing and unending.
My name is Erin and I am a senior in college majoring in pizza and minoring in Human Development and Family Studies. Or maybe the other way around. I like restaurants and long walks through my Netflix queue. I’m mom to my 1-year-old sassy red husky, Juneau. I love all things hair, makeup, and clothes. I’m worthless at math but passionate about words, and when I’m not reading or writing or at the gym, I watch a million movies and TV shows, and have a particular weakness for good cooking shows. I live for the gym, carbs, good restaurants, people, and positivity.
A little bit of history.
I’ll undoubtedly delve into this more in future posts, but, for now, here is a little bit of relevant history to help explain why I wanted to embark on what I call a “transformative journey” (which is really just me trying to be as productive, healthy, and, most importantly, happy as possible):
I wrote my first book in second grade. The classroom activity was to write and illustrate a couple pages that would be bound into a “book” to bring home to our families. I, predictably, took this assignment way too far, and wrote and illustrated a full-fledged novella called “Timberly” about a kind timber wolf and the girl who loved her. My “book” was far too lengthy for the bindings that all of the other kids got for their books, so I got this special, beautiful blue hardcover book, and it was my proudest moment to date. I was finally a real author, I had a real book and everything! The thing I always wanted most, all throughout my childhood and even today, a little, was that solitary line proclaiming proudly to all: “By Erin –” — this was something I had created!
In elementary school, I wrote a couple more “novels”, a series about FBI agents and aliens, which you could pretty much just call a ripoff of The X-Files. This is when I started diverging from the normal, and realizing how difficult it was for me just to talk to other kids. How difficult it was for me to be liked. I didn’t really understand that kids my age didn’t really want to hear me prattle on about The X-Files or any of the other old TV shows and movies I watched that they had never even heard of. I was devouring all the classics with an unstoppable furor before I even got to middle school, carried a book wherever I went, and would rather stay stuck in my imagination thinking up new characters and plots than talking to people (god forbid). I was petrified of conversation, but wondered, all the same, why I didn’t have any friends, why it was so difficult for me, why I never felt happy or normal. The concept was difficult for me to grasp.
I was always a sad child. My mom told me I cried from the day I was born and haven’t stopped since. I cried about everything; from being asked to try new foods to having my hair braided, I cried. I cried when I was alone playing with my multitude of stuffed animals, I cried at school, I cried when I had to go to Daddy’s house. I don’t have normal memories of Daddy, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after the divorce, and lived with my grandmother for my entire childhood, in and out of jobs, in and out of treatment for alcoholism, his weight and his mood changing seemingly Every-Other-Weekend (I still hate the phrase “every other weekend”, because that’s when my brother, sister and I were court-ordered to visit). A couple things always stayed the same, though: he was always ranting, always overbearing, and always had some reason not to pay child support. I cried when my mom cried because she could barely afford groceries, cried when I wanted so badly to dress like the other girls in my class but couldn’t afford all the new, cute styles from Limited Too, cried at the unfairness of it all, that this had happened to me.
Some people look fondly back at their childhood and high school days when things seemed simpler. The “good old days”. I know I don’t have any “good old days” or “happier times”. Not before my parents divorced, and definitely not after. The happier times came way later, when I finally made friends and had meaningful experiences in college, outgrew my long-enduring awkward years that left me crying in front of mirrors at my own self-perceived “ugliness”, and was able to explore my own interests and discover myself as a person outside the context of my insane family and my small town where everyone already thought I was irreversibly weird. The happier times came after I no longer had to see my cruel stepfather who always managed to find a reason to scream at me. I joined a sorority, figured out what I want to do with my life (for the most part lol), discovered the joy of fitness (now one of my greatest passions even though gym class was my greatest source of anxiety in high school), and finally graduated from the kids menu and started eating things other than pizza and chicken fingers (I used to be the pickiest eater of all time and dreaded going to restaurants because I knew there probably wouldn’t be anything on the menu I would like — my family is utterly shocked by what a complete different person I’ve become, in that regard; but more about that in a different post!!).
I’m a senior in college now, and it’s given me some of the greatest highs and lows of my entire life. I’ve never experienced such intensity of emotion, on either side of happiness/sadness spectrum, as I have in college.
It was during my freshman year of college that I finally realized something that I should have realized after writing a note in the 5th grade to my guidance counselor about how I wanted to die but how no one would care and sticking it in my lunchbox for my mother to find, horrified. There was something essentially wrong with me at my very core, something that just didn’t work right. The heartbreaks and the stress from school were normal experiences, I knew that, but not the deep, soul-shaking, paralyzing sadness that I felt so deeply on a daily basis, the kind of sadness and loneliness, in spite of being surrounded by people, that makes you feel like you can’t move or do anything. I was scared to confront it, desperately scared that I was going to hear that I was just like my father, that I was destined to be like him, constantly either sleeping or preaching delusions and telling everyone that he was going to be a famous rock star, soon, and we’d all be sorry about how we treated him.
I was a prolific writer in middle- and high-school, and somehow wrote six novels on top of all of my honors and AP courses (this is actually bizarre and astounding to me now because it took me like a week to write this blog post, and I’m also not nearly as good of a student as I used to be). Even when I was sad or lonely, it was the one thing that brought me joy and a sense of purpose; a sense that I was doing what I was meant to be doing. I stopped writing after high school because I just didn’t have the motivation or energy, and, quite frankly, didn’t really care that much anymore about it, because what was the point? I didn’t really ever think about or imagine a future for myself in any real sense, because I felt so stuck and stagnant. It was hard enough just to get through the day or the week. I gave up on my dreams of seeing my name on the front cover of a book in the bookstore, felt so detached from the little girl who used to race home from school just to sit in front of a computer and type away stories for hours and hours. Writing always gave me a sense of purpose, and then, suddenly, I stopped.
So, part of this blog is just me trying to get myself writing again. I’ve started a couple new things since graduating high school, but I’ve never gotten very far. I went through a horrible period of depression during college that ended over a year ago, and then I got back on the right track, starting living again, and met my boyfriend, Dillon, who makes me feel brave and ready to conquer new challenges, rather than making me feel small and afraid and insecure, as others had. I still struggle sometimes with my anxiety, still feel what I can only assume is a depression fatigue even though I don’t feel remotely depressed…. But I’ve never been happier in my entire life, and the person I’ve talked about in the paragraphs above seems light years removed from the person I am today.
What I want to change and why
One day, it occurred to me that I was wasting a lot of what is probably the absolute best time in my life for me to make changes and devote tons of time to self development. I’m happy with the direction my life is going, extremely happy in my relationship with my boyfriend Dillon; I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life, and so proud of everything I’ve done to get here, because it didn’t happen on its own. But that doesn’t make me a perfect person: I’m prone to procrastination, still get stuck in my own head sometimes, suck at making schedules for myself and sticking to them, rarely write unless I have to for class, and often feel sluggish, unmotivated, and constantly fatigued.
My overwhelming fatigue was the main thing that made me want to change, because it was a physical sign from my body that I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I should. I don’t always eat healthy, I fell horribly out of any kind of fitness routine, gained weight over the summer when I didn’t have “time” for the gym because of my full-time job, and constantly felt too tired and unmotivated to be productive. I knew it was time to make changes, so I wrote out all of the things I could change (not focusing at all on the stuff I can’t change, like my family and financial situations), and spent a couple days just trying to sort through them and pick out the main themes in my goals and somehow categorize them in a way that made sense. Looking at my list, I felt overwhelmed; I like my life, yet there’s so many things I know I could do better. How could I possibly implement all these changes?
What do I want to be? I asked myself, and answered:
Eventually, I organized all my little goals into four big categories, and told myself that, every day, I would reflect on what I was doing to work towards my goals in each category, and what I could do better. Here are an overview of those categories, since they are what I will mostly be writing about!
- Fitness & Nutrition: eating healthy, fueling my body to do great things, focusing on my health, getting to the gym more often, doing something active every day, building muscle, etc.
- Positivity & Happiness: complaining less, being more confident, not sweating the small stuff, being more positivity, giving positivity to others, being the happiest me I can be
- Love & Relationships: being a better and more supportive and understanding girlfriend, paying more attention to nurturing my relationships with friends and family, taking the time to be kind to others, not being a negative presence to others
- Organization & Time Management: making school my #1 priority, not procrastinating, creating a schedule for myself and sticking to it, maximizing productivity, getting tasks done on time, not making excuses, working towards my goals every day
There’s also a sort of fifth category, which I’m tentatively calling Self-Improvement & Skill Cultivation: just general, making-myself-better things, like trying new recipes and learning how to be a better cook/baker, learning new things every day, reading more, acquiring new knowledge and skills, and, most importantly, writing, since that’s something I’ve really lost touch with in the past couple years, either too distracted or too unmotivated at varying intervals to ever dedicate the time or effort. But my theory is that if I improve myself in all of the other categories and become a more balanced, happy human, that will come naturally.
What I’ll be writing about.
I could classify this blog as a “lifestyle” blog. Here, I’ll be writing about my forays in fitness, food, positivity, and productivity. For now, I’m mostly writing this blog just to keep myself accountable, and get myself writing again. I’ll be writing about my passions and my progress and my “transformative journey”. I’ll probably talk about pizza a lot.
A little bit about change.
The decision to change begins not with self-loathing, but with love of self, and the conviction that things will get better, and so can I. The decision to make changes begins with the knowledge that you need to change, and, most importantly the certainty that you can change.
I know I’m capable of change, because I’ve already changed for the better so much. But no one is a perfect celestial being, and I’m certainly no exception. I could make plenty of excuses for the sluggishness, the lack of motivation, the apathy, the bouts of self-loathing and self-pity and, plainly, whininess. But at the tippy top of my “To DON’T” List is NO EXCUSES.
There are so many things in this world that we can’t control. That’s what makes it so important to focus on what you can control. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past couple of years, which have been very difficult for me, it’s that, even when things look bleakest, there are still things that you can control and change, and that sense of control when everything seems to be falling apart can make a world of difference. That’s why I always try to focus on what I can control and what I can change, like how positive I choose to be in a given situation, how I manage my time, how I manage my finances (however limited), and how I take care of my body through fitness and nutrition. Even when you can’t control your circumstances or any challenges you face, you can, to a certain extent, control how you react and the lens through which you choose to view those challenges.
Here is the cool thing: any day can be Day 1, if you so choose. I’ve had plenty of Day 1’s. I’ll probably have more. But I want this to be my last Day 1 for a while, because even cooler than deciding to make big changes is actually going through with them. I want to prove to myself that it’s possible to make big changes, and that I can still do big things if I just put in the effort.
So, happy day 1 of my blog! Stay tuned!