There’s a question on the application for Blog that reads, “Have you had any experience writing for a publication before?” September of my freshman year, freshly rejected from a cappella, I sat on my Twin XL bed and typed, “No, but I have been known to be funny on Facebook.”
I still have that document on my computer, and in retrospect, it’s utter crap. Sometimes I think it was sheer luck that I got a spot on this staff. Actually, I got lost on the way to my first meeting, because my friend/fellow blogger and I mistook Pembroke field for Pembroke campus, so that’s another piece of luck. It’s been almost four years since that first meeting, and I’d like to take the time to explain what happened in between.
Posting as a freshman, I wanted to make people laugh. After sharing my first article on social media, I was hooked on writing for an audience. All of these random students seemed to know me—I saw strangers reading my posts in lecture—it was like being a celebrity.
Alas, there was a dark side to fame. In catering to please my audience, I tried too hard to impress other people. I had a myriad of ideas, but didn’t take the time to execute them properly. My editor begged me to “write for the sake of writing,” and not the page views, but I didn’t see her point.
After a particularly misguided attempt at damage control on an article of mine that was particularly all over the place, I cried. My name was on the byline, but none of my words were in the piece. I talked for a long time with my editors, who obviously were sorry that I was so upset, but pointed out that there were a lot of recurring issues with my writing style. For the remainder of second semester, I had to send my posts to a mentor in Microsoft Word, receive track edits, and make the proper changes before I could even submit to WordPress for publication. I dubbed it “Blog-tention.”
While my writing steadily improved as a sophomore, I still struggled, and I still cried a lot. I wanted to be Editor-in-Chief one day, but all of my peers were rising through the ranks and I wasn’t. I was so excited about BlogDailyHerald, but it seemed like most of the staff dismissed me as weird and over-eager. Finally, the EIC at the time sat me down and imparted the words of wisdom I needed to hear. She told me a story about her high school softball career. As a teenager, she was so obsessed with getting her numbers to a caliber suitable for her dream colleges, that she had neglected the batting cages and technique necessary to ensure her success. That was my fatal flaw. I wanted so desperately to be good—and I spent so much time fretting and crying—that I wasn’t putting in the hours of writing practice.
Following that conversation, I took any opportunity to write a post—whether it was funny or serious, short or long. I made a decision to never publish an article that I wasn’t proud of. And I grew.
I’ve always been an ambitious person, and I think ambitious people naturally seek out positions of power. That’s why my next decision for Blog was a surprising one. I didn’t apply for any editorial positions. Finally, I had the skill and reputation to seek the power I had always wanted, but with it came the wisdom that I wasn’t well suited for these jobs. I had a vision for the site, but I wanted to craft it with my words, rather than my edits. I focused all of my energy into composing new posts, and eventually I was the most prolific writer on staff. I also continued to social media the heck out of all things BlogDH—to the point where most outsiders assumed I was running the site, because I wouldn’t shut up about it. My role on Blog was something that had never existed before—the writing equivalent of a designated hitter, combined with the organizational equivalent of a head cheerleader.
On our editorial application there is a question, “Who do you think is the best writer on staff, and why?” Spring weekend of my junior year, the current EIC told me that every applicant had answered with my name. Maybe that’s bragging, but I prefer to think of it as sharing a hard-earned victory.
By senior year, I had consolidated all of the responsibility and influence that freshman-year-me had wanted; in my own subtle way, I was a force to be reckoned with on campus. When the time came to build a new website, I almost single-handedly fundraised for the venture. (Let me tell you—secret fundraising is not an easy task.) Writing started to take a back seat as I learned to delegate, and my position on Blog expanded in every direction. Of course, I had to regain all of the social media capital that was lost in the transition. Then there was the matter of spreading the word about recruitment, maintaining alumni relations, and making money to keep the site running. I charged 1,200 dollars to my debit card for Spring Weekend T-shirts, and just had to believe that I would sell enough to make it back. And I did, with profit. I helped turned that profit into more profit, and The Blognonian lives to see another year. I made good on a dream, and directed/produced the Drunk Thesis web series. I don’t even have a personal Instagram and Twitter—my phone links directly to The Blognonian’s accounts. I hosted the last Blog Bonding I will ever attend, and now it is time for me to publish this senior send-off.
I tell this story because in the realm of my personal life, it’s the most inspirational one I can think of. We don’t always give our all to everything—but frankly, we can’t. I’ve slept through classes, I’ve slacked on the job search, and I don’t exercise enough. There were times I couldn’t give my all because I had been through too much pain in my life to see the point, and I felt as though I didn’t have it in me to care. But, the people who know me know that I gave my all to this site. I found something I loved, and I worked at it until I could truly call it my own. That’s really the best advice I can pass on to anyone.
I entered Brown intending to major in the sciences. Now I think that I don’t even have a legitimate major at all. I have continuously prioritized my blogging endeavors over my academics, and I don’t know how to feel about it. I do know that my family and friends are proud of me. Also, there is a whole contingent of moms in my neighborhood back home that religiously read this website, which is hilarious. I guess I’m happy I did this thing. It’s been a four-year love affair like no other. In fact, I’ve probably been single at Brown this whole time because I’ve been too busy dating this publication.
To everyone who made it to the end with me, Brown student or not, I hope that you open yourself up to the kind of passion I’ve experienced here. It’s a passion that upends your planned career, a dream that keeps you up at night, and a love so consuming that you have no regrets, even if maybe you should. I’ll never forget Blog, and Blog will never forget me.
To those who read my writing, thank you. It’s been a trip.