(This post is much more personal than my normal posts. It was a little scary to write and publish, but I’ve decided this vulnerability is a good thing. Maybe it will inspire you to embrace your own vulnerabilities. Cheers.)
What makes someone stop blogging and what makes someone start again?
I can tell you about the first part.
In May 2014, I got married to my girlfriend of three years. It hadn’t been a perfect relationship (are they ever?), but she really wanted to get married and I really wanted to prove my commitment to her despite our imperfections.
That September, she said she wanted to leave. She moved out in February, we were separated for a year, and got divorced that next Spring.
I had started at a new job in mid-2014 after leaving my first “real” job of four years. The combination of these two events threw my life into a tailspin. For months, I was three different people: the one trying to save my relationship, the one leading a department, and the one pretending everything was normal around my friends. It was…painful.
I’m a big believer that–for all but the most major of problems–any negative event in your life, over time, can cause positive outcomes double or triple the size of the negativity. I just finished reading Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and it happened to touch on this new perspective you can gain rather poetically:
Perhaps a person gains by accumulating obstacles. The more obstacles set up to prevent happiness from appearing, the greater the shock when it does appear, just as the rebound of a spring will be all the more powerful the greater the pressure that has been exerted to compress it. Care must be taken, however, to select large obstacles, for only those of sufficient scope and scale have the capacity to lift us out of context and force life to appear in an entirely new and unexpected light.
For example, should you litter the floor and tabletops of your room with small objects, they constitute little more than a nuisance, an inconvenient clutter that frustrates you and leaves you irritable; the petty is mean. Cursing, you step around the objects, pick them up, knock them aside.
Should you, on the other hand, encounter in your room a nine thousand pound granite boulder, the surprise it evokes, the extreme steps that must be taken to deal with it, compel you to see with new eyes. Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality.
This theory proved resoundingly true for the divorce.
Until three years ago, I was a very achievement- and progress-oriented person. Being a pretty high D on the DiSC scale, it was easy to quantify progress that way and was a large part of how I gauged my self-worth. This focus, along with the fact that I hadn’t learned the huge importance of empathy in every day life, meant that I placed lower emphasis on social motivations. In short, I was selfish.
This led me to see many relationships as transactional, even though I didn’t know it at the time. When I discovered my relationship with my wife was largely so, it was a huge wake up call. I went to some therapy (never a bad idea no matter where you are in life), talked with some friends, and spent a lot of time thinking about how I was living my life. I came to realize how shallow it had been. I started to turn the slow engine of self-shaping in a different direction.
In addition to personal motivations, I was also very focused on career progression. I put a lot of value in learning new skills at work. I would often eschew other priorities to go to meet-ups. I dreamed of starting my own company. And I had a blog.
Those are lower priorities now.
Now, my goals have changed. I still value career progression, but it’s not a higher priority than my relationships. Now, my priorities are that people enjoy being around me and enjoy being my friend.
The person this matters most for is my partner. I met a wonderful woman two years ago who is the love of my life–not because our relationship is perfect but because we are both aware that it isn’t and we want to grow in a direction that supports and heals the other. Just a few months ago, we went on an amazing trip to Thailand and I proposed to her and we plan to get married later this year.
For everyone else, it’s been slower going. This was the second time in my life I went through a breakup and people inevitably had to choose a side. Everyone loses and it sucks. With persistent friends and in making new ones, I’ve striven for more meaningful conversations and deeper connections. In dealing with people on a daily basis, I’ve learned a ton about validation, empathy, navigating others’ defensiveness, and avoiding my own.
It’s still a work in progress. But when I’m able to focus on these goals, I feel much better about how people feel around me.
I’d say that’s all a huge positive outcome of this whole situation. Sometimes you gotta get punched in the gut to realize you were fuckin up.
What makes someone start blogging again?
My girlfriend and I have lived together for over two years now. We both have normal jobs, a few hobbies, and a Venn Diagram of friends. We’ve settled into a weekly routine, which is nice. Go to work, go to the gym or see a friend during the week, go on a trip or to an event on the weekend.
This is all fine, but toward the end of last year, we found that more and more of our free time was spent looking at our phones or vegging out on Netflix. Scrolling through yesterday’s Instagram or half-watching a show we’re half-interested in. So we decided to remove these vices for “Offline October”.
It’s crazy how much free time you have during a week you’d otherwise call “busy”. Have you ever just sat outside for an hour and not looked at your phone? It’s way cathartic.
During this experiment in October, I was looking for ways to deflect my time-spending away from mindless crap. I figured one way may be to try this blogging thing again. Just not like last time.
If it ends up taking hold again, great. Either way, here’s to improved priorities 🍻. May you find your own.