11 Ways My Life Has Benefited From Blogging
Today is October 11th, which can only mean one thing—it’s my blog birthday! Every year when my birthday rolls around, I like to take time to reflect on the ways God has grown me and shown Himself to me in the past year. What I’ve found is, there’s often much I don’t see in the day-to-day until I stop and look back. But when I do, I see more clearly God’s hand in my life, and it allows me to tie off the year I’m leaving with a bow of gratitude as I step into the next.
It’s the same thing with other milestones. Being an achiever who tends to also be a bit future-minded, I’ve learned that unless I create rhythms of celebration in my life, life itself can easily become one endless to-do list where I’m always looking on to the next goal rather than stopping to see and appreciate how far I’ve come. One rhythm I’ve come to love is celebrating my blog birthday. Reason being, that if you and I have ever had a conversation, chances are you have an idea of how much I love it and how much joy it’s brought to my life—and I believe things like that are worth celebrating.
I receive a good amount of questions from people who are considering starting a blog. I get the heart behind these questions, because not too long ago I was the one asking them. More often than not, these questions come from a place of wanting to start, but sensing so much uncertainty in doing so that a little extra encouragement is needed to stop teetering on the ledge and step forward. I teetered on that ledge, full of fear, for almost two years before starting, and now two years on the other side of it, all I can say is I’m so thankful I took the jump. That being said, for my blog birthday I decided to put together a post on the ways blogging has grown me as a person and brought good to my life. My hope is that this can serve as a little nudge for anyone wanting to start. Besides, it was honestly SO fun for me to reflect and realize just how much blogging has shaped me (and it made my heart happy when I ended up with 11 points because, October 11th 😉). Here they are, in no particular order.
11 WAYS MY LIFE HAS BENEFITED FROM BLOGGING
1. It's connected me to amazing people and opportunities.
Whether to bounce ideas off of or shoot a text to asking for prayer, blogging has connected me to other bloggers who have become friends. One even became an IRL friend when I visited her in Colorado! Simply put, there’s nothing like having a community of like-minded people who understand the in’s and out’s of what you’re doing, who are willing to have the “have you experienced this?” and the “how did you figure that out?” type conversations and offer support and encouragement. That’s not to mention the opportunities it’s given me to work with brands and other bloggers—whether through guest writing or leveraging each other’s unique creative strengths for a common goal (like when I got to help my friend Lacey launch her hand lettering business).
2. It's given me an ongoing journal I can turn to.
Oftentimes the best way to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness is to look at how He’s been faithful to you in the past. I love looking back at old blog posts and remembering what I was feeling when I wrote them. They are visual and written snapshots that capture some of the sweetest and most stretching seasons in my walk with God, and revisiting them fills my heart anew with gratitude. There have also been many times I’ve been encouraged to look back and think, “Wow I forgot that’s where I was a couple months ago”—and it reminds me that even when I don’t see any change, God is always, always working. Whether it’s a deep, meaningful lesson or simply photos from a fun trip, I love that I have so many special memories captured and collected in one place.
3. It's helped me to embrace vulnerability.
The first blog post idea that made me seriously consider starting a blog was to share an analogy about suffering that God had spoken to me while I was hiking the Cinque Terre in Italy. This particular post idea felt so vulnerable, which made me super nervous. For almost two weeks, I felt like I needed to get over my fear of sharing in order to write the post—and I tried. Until suddenly, it clicked: what if I were to write about the nerves and the fear itself? So I did, and it became my first post—one with an overwhelming response. Then, I wrote the Cinque Terre post next. The lesson it taught me? Don’t try to show up from the place you think people need you to be, show up where you are. Because likely, other people are there too. Dig in and be vulnerable. When you share your story, other people will find bits of their own story in it—and one of the most powerful gifts you can give another human being is language to name their experience, and know they aren’t alone.
4. It's helped me to develop discipline.
Blogging is not my full time job but it is a priority in my life, which means that in order to be consistent in it, I have to be disciplined. Primarily, with my time—sometimes this means writing on a lunch break or after work when I’d rather scroll social media, sometimes it means scheduling writing time on a portion of my weekend, then honoring that time as I would any other commitment. It also means I’ve had to learn not to be ruled by the ever elusive “inspiration.” What do I mean by this? Well, inspiration and ideas often come to me in a moment I can’t do anything about it—while driving, trying to fall asleep, etc. Discipline is necessary in working to bring that inspiration alive outside of the moment it came to me, when I actually have the time to sit down and write. Sometimes, the two worlds do collide and when that happens, it’s magic. But the reality is, if I sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, I’ll be waiting a while. I’ve had to learn that when the time comes to write, I need to get to work whether or not I feel it, and the inspiration will meet me halfway.
5. It's made me grow and become more whole.
As I’ve written over time, I’ve found prominent themes in my writing that have served as clues to the purposes and passions God has planted in me. He’s used it to awaken in me new avenues of inspiration and interest, which has drawn me more fully into who He created me to be and given voice to parts of me that were quieted before. It’s helped me to find and refine the voice God has given me that no one else can bring to the world, glittered with insights from the unique story He’s written for me.
6. It's allowed me to live out of that sweet spot of purpose.
There is nothing more satisfying than living out of the place of purpose you know in your heart you were created for. Everything about blogging brings me so much joy—the writing, photography, creative design, collaborations, coming up with captions—and I believe God created me that way on purpose for the time period I’m living in. Now, seeing Him use that for the purpose of encouraging others or allowing me to connect with others over common experiences? There’s nothing like it.
7. It's taught me to live and speak with conviction.
Thankfully, I haven’t really encountered negative feedback or comments yet, but I have seen how people can have different impressions of what you're doing. How, in the exact same moment, one person can feel you’re not being or sharing enough, while another can think you’re being or sharing too much. It’s helped me to see that as people, we all see things through the lens of our own experiences, biases, and insecurities, which means we can’t let the opinions of others be absolute truth. If I make approval my aim, I’ll find myself doing circles like a dog chasing its tail. But if what drives me is an inner unshakeable conviction, I’ll have nothing to fear. Not only that, but any disproval will only serve to clarify my convictions.
8. It's built confidence in my ability to try new things.
When I first started my blog, a friend of mine helped me set it up and when she was showing me how to use it, one of my questions for her was, “Hey, does it let you do that thing where you put a word and it links to something else but doesn’t show the actual link?” YA'LL. I didn’t know what a HYPERLINK was (this is not a joke—Lauren, all I can say is thank you). I was clueless as to the technical stuff, I just knew I wanted to share my heart. Two years later, I’ve now taught myself how to do things ranging from simple code, website building and graphic design, to setting up email lists. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to tasks I’m not confident in my understanding of, but blogging has slowly helped me change that. Because the reality is, there’s not much you can’t learn to do if you have the drive and access to this thing called Google. While there are moments I’ve wished to have someone to do all those things for me, it’s been fun figuring it out along the way, and it’s built my confidence in tackling things I don’t know how to do. Now, am I pro at any of things? Not even close. But that just means two years from now, I’ll be smiling to myself at how little I knew in this moment. More and more I'm finding that the real joy isn't found just in "making it," but in the making of it—in the brick-by-brick building of something beautiful.
9. It's taught me not to let perfect be the enemy of "done."
My friend Eric recently asked me how I know when a blog post is finally complete. I laughed to myself. The answer? I don’t. The truth is, I almost always feel like I could have done something to make it better, to enhance my writing or content in some way. And you know what? That's probably true. But I’ve learned that perfectionism doesn’t serve me, it only keeps me stuck. Blogging has taught me to give it my best, then get it out there. You can always improve once you start but if you never start, you’ll have nothing to improve.
10. It's shown me that hard work is good for me.
As humans, I think we have a tendency toward things that are comfortable or easy. I know I do. But that’s actually NOT satisfying. What is? Expending your energy for something GOOD. There have been plenty of times I didn’t feel like writing a blog post when I planned to, so I watched TV instead. But you know what? I felt bleh afterwards. The times I felt satisfied are the times I pushed through a couple hours of writing to finish a blog post, even when I didn’t feel like it. Even when doing something mindless would have been preferable. As they say, the writer loves to have written. I agree with this, because writing itself isn’t always fun. It’s work. It forces you to mentally and emotionally dig in and engage. But that’s not a bad thing. Work wasn’t a side-effect of the Fall, it came before the Fall. Meaning, we were made to work—and of course rest, too. But if our goal is to live for those comfortable and easy times, we’ll live unfulfilled.
11. It's helped me to fear "what if's" more than I fear failure or what people think.
The biggest thing that kept me from blogging for so long was fear of what people might think—fear of putting myself out there. The idea of made me feel exposed. But I’ve learned that sitting on the sidelines is a false promise of safety, because the only thing it really protects you from is the fullness of life as it was meant to be lived. When you show up, the outcome may be uncertain, but it’s better to fail in the arena because you took a chance than to never take a chance at all. Blogging made me believe this, and its encouraged me to carry the same mentality into other areas of my life as well.
Woo, that was a long one! Thanks for sticking with me—not just in this post, but over the course of the past two years. 😊 Your support means more to me than you’ll ever know, and I’m so excited for all that’s yet to come. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Thanks to my talented friend Courtney McCallion for taking these photos and to Grandma Carol and Grandpa John for letting me take them in your gorgeous room!