The children of some friends of ours go to a Catholic school here in the city. My friend was telling me about one day when she was putting in some volunteer hours there by doing playground duty after lunch. She spotted some kindergarten girls pulling some Mean Girl moves on a classmate, and she filled the teacher in on what was going on.
The teacher pulled the Mean Girl Tribe aside and said, "When we return to class, we will be praying for your souls because you have lost your way. You have lost the way of kindness and we will pray that you return to it."
I got quite a kick out of that story for several reasons. First, because that's what I've always imagined Catholic school to be like - lots of guilt-inspired praying for souls. And secondly, I think most Mean Girls need to be pulled aside and reminded that they have lost their way.
Honestly, though, I can relate to them more than I would like to admit. Maybe not so much in the Mean Girl tactics (though I've had my moments), but more so in that I so easily lose my way. I so often need someone to pull me aside and say, "Sister, you have lost your way."
As of this week, I have been blogging for seven years.
And something I've been thinking about a lot lately is I think I've lost my way.
My very first post was hurriedly composed, hopelessly unoriginal, and boringly vague. I suppose it was titled appropriately enough, but it didn't even have a picture with it. And it clearly, clearly was written without an audience in mind.
It is not linkable, it is not Pin-worthy, and it's even kind of embarrassing to look back on. It's something I wrote obviously for myself, a making of space to "stretch my fingers."
Goodness, how things have changed since January 2006. Back then, there was no Pinterest or even Twitter. The only people on Facebook were collegians. I didn't know a single other person who had a blog, and I had only recently discovered what a blog even was.
It was a beautiful time in the blogging frontier, only it wasn't so much Wild West as it was Ladies Who Lunch (In Their Pajamas). We wrote for ourselves, primarily, but we also wrote for comments. Comments bloomed in abundance in those days. We wrote to be included in blog rings, and we wrote with the teeniest, tiniest glimmer of hope of being linked to by a Big Timer like Rocks in my Dryer or Scribbit or BooMama.
We knew not of BlogHer or page views or SEO-friendly titles, but we sure did know who just had a baby and who just miscarried. We knew whose husband was being deployed and we knew what the weekend had held for each other because we posted those kinds of things. "Our Weekend," the title would say, and there would be a list of activities and some point-and-shoot pictures complete with ugly on-board flash; shots of toddlers at the science museum and spaghetti-haired babies in gloriously un-chic plastic-y high chairs.
It was all so unsophisticated. It was all so terribly un-savvy. But it was so honest-to-goodness real.
I wrote about things like Dacey dropping down to one nap, but there was no pinnable graphic or click-worthy headline. I sketched out words to myself at the playground and that was a post. I posted just to say I had a wee bit of morning sickness when I was pregnant with AJ.
I hope you'll forgive this inundation of nostalgia. The blogiversary always sends me reading back through the archives, and most years I cringe and roll my eyes at words long-since recorded in the Forevers of the Internet, but this year, it's different. Some of the posts I hold closest to my heart were written years and years ago, unpolished examples of me letting the words fall as they may.
Except for a very few entries, it's hard for me to find anything I've written in the past year or so that makes me say, "Oh. That was good." And that's what makes me feel like I've lost my way.
Though I've resisted it, I have found I've fallen into the trap of carefully considering numbers and influence and page views and reach. And it hasn't been entirely fruitless - not at all! I am face-to-the-floor grateful that from blogging, I've been able to be part of and even asked to lead some fantastic communities, as well as bringing my heart's message to the printed page.
But I'm kind of finding myself in that seven-year itch territory now where I think long and hard about whether or not to keep going. I try to imagine my days without a Compose screen, and while I know it would be liberating for a while, I also have a sneaking suspicion I would soon turn my Facebook status updates into blog posts of their own. (Much to the sheer delight of my friends, I can only presume.)
And so as I look back over many, many words written in the past seven years, and so many, many connections made through comments, emails, and meet-ups, I know there is part of me that is not yet ready to walk away.
There is part of me that still just wants to stretch my fingers and tell some stories and listen to the story you have to tell me.
So maybe I stop pressuring myself to make a pinnable graphic for every post. So maybe I forget how to look at my page views. Maybe it gets a lot less savvy around here (not that I was ever fooling anyone with that) and maybe it gets awkward as I try to figure out how to speak to family life with an eight year old and a five year old whose stories are less and less mine and more and more theirs. Maybe I'll succumb to the whirlwind that is life with two new babies and I'll take the entire year off.
I don't know.
Seven years later, it's time to let go of some goals that are never going to happen, to find peace in knowing that all that I have done is already enough.
It's time to stop taking myself and this space so seriously.
It's time to let the words just fall as they may.
I want to find my way.