Three years ago today, I sat on the edge of my bed, basking in the faint glow of my computer screen and haunted by the little blue publish button begging me to just click it. It was my first attempt, after years of hiding behind private blogs and scribbling in tattered notebooks and swearing up and down that all I want to do is write, at a public blog.
At 23 years old, I was clouded by the regret of not continuing with school immediately after graduating, and not-so-gracefully transitioning into my first year post-grad. I was working three jobs and taking one class to fulfill the requirements that I somehow missed in undergrad for official acceptance into graduate school. The vision I had of what my life would be like at 23 didn’t even come close to the reality that I was facing. After having been a student for so long, even only a year and a half off from school left me floundering — a fish out of water. I was pounding the pavement, working my ass off, and trying to get into grad school, but it wasn’t enough.
In retrospect, ‘enough’ meant more than going straight to grad school following undergrad. ‘Enough’ meant more than working three jobs. ‘Enough’ meant more than the career path I should have been on — the blue print that I etched in my mind when I went into college.
Enough, to me, was revisiting dreams and plans I made for myself as a little girl. The truth of the matter was, despite my accomplishments, despite the very clear path that laid ahead of me, despite my knowing that finishing grad school was essentially the only option for me, my heart still ached for wishes I made into the night sky as a kid. I needed a home for the thoughts that stampeded through my head everyday. I needed a home to foster creativity. I needed a home to do what I swore to myself I always would: to write. To keep writing. To never give up on words.
I came to this space thinking that if I could just write out what was going on, that it would fix me. That somehow words on a screen sent out to whomever cared enough to read would somehow heal me.
A lot’s changed in the last three years. What I realized in the process of trying to quiet the noise is that none of this is about me. It’s never really been about me.
At 26, I know everything and nothing about life. I say both everything and nothing, because I know what it’s taken to get me here, but I know nothing about what’s to come. And I want to spend the rest of my life learning and growing and offering whatever fragments of wisdom I have to anyone willing to listen. What I’ve learned, especially in the last three years since starting this blog is that this life has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the goodness and the love that we put into the world. I started this blog because I was broken and tired and needed an outlet to vent. The notebooks I carried around with me everywhere I went just wasn’t doing my thoughts any justice.
I’ve found that above all else, love wins. Words matter. And I know that despite how many times I’ve fallen to the ground in search of some sort of sign telling me that this is okay. That I can pursue a career as a therapist and still pour my words out onto paper, that there’s no right or wrong way to this life thing. That it makes some sort of sense. To hang tight, and not give in, and keep steady on the path that I’m on. That I’m doing exactly what I can. And that it all matters.
I guess the signs were everywhere, but never there when I wanted them to jump out right in front of me. We have to believe that life, in all its sticky and messy glory, is meant for something so much bigger. That even on the worst of days, when we are stuck between two boulders, unsure of which way is out, this all means something.
Writing and words and reading and life have taught me so much in the last three years. But what I’m learning the most is the importance of connections. Relationships are so important — the ones that are real and true. The people who fight for you and fight with you and celebrate with you and sit next to you when you are in the thick of life. The ones who cheer you on and practice happiness and grace when they, themselves, are struggling to find their own. People matter, conversations matter, words matter.
The truth behind it all is that people will never stay as long as you want them to. But I’ll tell you a secret: they’ll always stay as long as you need them to. That’s something I keep learning over and over again. You will meet people who will turn your life upside down. They’ll come in, they’ll teach you something, you’ll grow and laugh and learn from them. And you’ll wonder where the hell they were before you met them. They’ll be incredible forces in your life. And sometimes, as quickly as they came by, they’ll leave. And it’s disheartening and unfair and sometimes cruel, but you’ll carry in your heart that you are better because of them. You’ll keep their memories, their wisdom, and their words.
Because at the end of the day, I need you to believe that words matter.
I believe that everything in life should be done with intention. I intentionally created this space in an attempt to spill the words that before this stayed dormant inside of leather bound moleskin journals sitting on a dusty shelf, and also to stick it to a high school teacher that told me I have good intention, but I lack follow through.
But I guess that teacher was right all along. I had every intention typing out my first post three years ago to climb a mountain with my fist in the air, as if to say, this is where it starts. This is how I start to change the world. This is where my words will matter. And then in the midst of life and school and the changing seasons of love and everything else in between that day three years ago to where I stand today, I lost the point of it all. The point was never to be a world leader or start a revolution or even change the entire world. The point was to connect with people.
The point is still to connect with people. Until the pen runs out of ink and the words keep from spilling out from inside of me, the point will always be to connect with people.
And that brings me here — to this. Three years later, and my heart still beats for the same thing: for connection, for words, for secrets that can only be shared through eloquent words and sentences and story telling.
In honor of my blogs three year birthday, in honor of beautiful words and stories of staying connected, and in continuing with the tradition that I started last year, I will be giving a book away.
I had the absolute honor of meeting Hannah Brencher at her NYC book signing for her memoir If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers and I snagged an extra copy to give away for this very occasion.
Hannah’s memoir chronicles, in detail, the reality of a life that was meant for more than just standing still. She talks about the transition between being a college student and the year following graduation that she took off to do volunteer work for a non-profit– an important job, but one that left her lonely and isolated, in one of the most heavily populated cities in the world. In the midst of struggling with depression and trying to find what makes her heart beat without making it sink at the same time, Hannah started More Lover Letters out of a single act that came from wanting to share her love through a letter with someone whose tired eyes spoke volumes to her. She talks about tough stuff. Life, and death, and love, and heartache, and spirituality, and her quest to find God — and she does so with wisdom beyond her years.
As someone who swears up and down that she doesn’t cry, Hannah’s words always triggers something in me. Her writing is unlike any other I’ve read and I feel eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her. And because I know how important her words have been to me, I want to gift that to someone else. I want someone else to feel even an ounce of what I felt sitting in the corner of a Pep Boys waiting room with tears streaming down my face as I read about her dad in her book (and got weird looks from men sitting by me). I want someone to read her book and be both gutted and inspired by her story. Because Hannah’s words matter. All words matter.
To enter to win a copy of Hannah Brencher’s memoir, use the contact form below to sign up for my monthly e-mail list that will be starting in April. If you’ve already done so, just leave me a message to let me know you are signed up for that. Extra entries goes to those who are subscribed to my blog and those who follow me on Twitter. If you are subscribed and follow me, just leave me a message below with your email that you used to subscribe to my blog and your Twitter handle. Everyones name will be put in an online generator and the winner will be picked at random. Winners will be chosen on Sunday, March 29th.
Thanks for sticking around. I’m looking forward to another year of making words matter.