Things I’m Afraid To Tell You
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This weekend, I spent some time poking around the archives of a few of my favorite design bloggers, and happened to come across this wave of posts that hit the blogosphere two years ago called “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You”. It turns out that one of my favorite podcasters — Jess Lively — was actually the brave person who first posted on the topic, and then nearly a hundred other design and fashion bloggers followed suit. (Just check out the #thingsimafraidtotellyou hashtag to see what I’m talking about.)
I’m not one to really get “lost” browsing around online, but I got completely sucked in and spent an hour yesterday reading from woman after woman — most of whom I’d never before known — as they shared everything from their fears to quirky secrets to insecurities and everything in between. And I have to say, it was pretty moving and inspiring. And it reminded me of the tremendous power of vulnerability to unite and encourage one other, if for no other reason to give someone a chance to say, “What, you too?!”
As I was falling asleep last night, I started thinking about what items would be on my list. So without much editing or over-thinking, I thought I’d join into the little movement (albeit two years late) and share the random thoughts that first came to mind. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they’re things I’m afraid to tell you — as I’m a big believer in vulnerability and feel like I’ve already been fairly open on this section of the blog — but they’re probably things I haven’t told you before for one reason or another. And they’re all a part of my story.
So yeah, shout out to Jess and Ez and all of you bloggers who had this little wave of sharing two years ago. I guess that’s the fun of the blogosphere — two years later, those posts are still published on their pages for someone like me to see. Here are my 10 things to contribute to the mix.
Things I’m Afraid To Tell You
1. I pretty much only cook stuff nowadays for blogging/work.
I know, most food bloggers make it seem as though they’re just sharing the “highlight” recipes amongst the many, many others they make in a given week. And that may be true for them. But for the past few years at least, I have had to cook so many recipes for the blog each week (plus extra batches of each recipe for testing, others for freelance assignments, and other projects on top of those) that I hardly ever cook myself something extra for dinner anymore. I still like to cook when friends come over. But mostly I eat out a lot, probably much more than I should, although usually that is also an excuse to hang out with friends. And most of my dinners at home usually consist of either cold leftovers, or (more often) just a batch of nooch popcorn or egg drop soup for dinner. Not always the healthiest or the most glamorous, and they definitely don’t look like the pretty pictures on the blog, but that’s the real life behind the scenes.
2. I am self-conscious about having a (genuinely) terrible memory.
I’m not talking about the kind of “bad memory” people usually joke about, like losing your keys or conveniently “forgetting” that dentist’s appointment. Alzheimer’s and dementia run strong in my family, and I have no doubt that some early string of that is already present in my mind. I have a noticeably terrible short term memory, and a much worse long-term memory. So whether it’s almost instantly forgetting the plot of a book I read a week ago, to blanking on huge swaths of my childhood, my limited memory is something that is a constant source of embarrassment, frustration and anxiety in my life. I’ve learned to swallow my own pride on it. But the worst is seeing people’s letdown or confused faces when they ask, “Remember when [that fun thing we did happened]?” and I have to confess that I draw a blank. Or when I took the time to watch a movie or read a book that I loved and want to discuss it with friends…and then can’t remember anything beyond the fact that I loved it. Or when I somehow get stuck watching The Notebook, with the elderly woman (also named Allie) who forgets her husband and is basically the example of one of my greatest fears. Thankfully my friends know this about me and now kindly help fill in the blanks without judgment and make memory (as my friend Michelle said) a “team sport“. But I wish I could have the memories they have.
3. I began “full-time blogging” purely because I needed to quit my last job.
It wasn’t because I worked and waited and planned for months to become a full-time food blogger. I kind of wish that was the case. But no, it was simply because the work environment at my old job (which I had previously loved) had taken a very disappointing turn, and for my own health and wellbeing, I needed to get out. My friends and family and therapist had been encouraging me to leave for months, but I couldn’t find another career or job that felt like a fit. Finally one day a lightbulb went off and I woke up and suddenly realized that I could totally make it by on my blogging income for a few months. Then a few days later, I had a small freelancing job unexpectedly offered to me. So took it as affirmation and quit my job three days later, and planned to make the summer a 3-month transition period when I could regroup, process through some things, and start looking into grad school or whatever the next career path would be. Two pretty incredible years of full-time blogging later, I guess I can attest that life has a funny way of surprising you. :) I’m not grateful for the circumstances that led me to quit my job, but I am incredibly grateful that they gave me the push I needed into something new, and that blogging was there to “catch” me when I needed a way out. And I am so grateful for the stellar, life-giving, challenging, and awesome journey it has turned into since. So if any of you ever find yourself in a similar difficult spot, I’m here to tell you that lemons can sometimes be turned into lemonade. (Lemonade recipes, in my case.)
4. I don’t like ground beef.
This probably isn’t a big deal to anyone but myself. But for whatever reason, I have always been worried to confess on a food blog that I don’t like ground beef, mostly because the rest of the country seems to be mega fans of it. There’s no particular reason why I don’t like it. I’m totally not a vegetarian, and love steak, chicken, bacon, pork, and almost every other meat out there. But ever since I was a kid, I’ve always just passed on hamburger. (Unless it is served to me by a friend, or maybe the three times in history that a burger has smelled so good I decided to try it.) The majority of the time, I’ll stick with a veggie or chicken burger. So if you’re looking for a ground beef recipe, sorry but you’ll have to visit another food blog. :)
5. I fight back a little panic every time my back aches.
I was talking with some blogging friends about this earlier in the week, and realize I haven’t before shared my bizarre Dr.-House-worthy medical mystery on here with you before. Very long story short — I had scoliosis surgery as a 14-yr-old, and they placed a rod and screws in my back and ground up a rib to help fuse it in place. Fast forward 10 years later, I was running through an airport in Ireland with a heavy suitcase and felt something snap. Two months, lots of pain, many doctor and physical therapy appointments, and finally a mysterious “bump” in my leg later, we discovered that the rod had indeed snapped in half and migrated all the way down to my shin where it was lodged in my calf muscle. CRAZY. (If you’re feeling brave, you can see it here and here. And yes, somewhere there’s a medical journal that documents the story.) The good news is that they surgically removed the rod from my leg. The bad news is that they said it was too dangerous to go back in and repair the remaining half rod in my back, which they basically just hope will stay in place the rest of my life. No guarantees though, and if it slips out of the screws holding it in place, there’s no telling if it would take the “miracle” path of the other rod and not wreak some probably life-threatening damage. So that said, whenever I feel a twinge of pain in my back — which is pretty regular with the chronic back pain I still experience — I have to work through a brief moment of panic. I’ve gotten better at dealing with that over the years, but I’m guessing it will never fully go away.
6. I totally watch “The Bachelor”.
My friends 100% judge me for this — and I often 100% judge myself — but “The Bachelor” is my total fluff reality show of choice. Yes, I know it is undeniably overproduced and ridiculous and basically everything I can’t stand about modern dating. But even though no one believes me, I mostly watch the show out of pure sociological wonder. I mean, it is fascinating to me that these contestants go on the show and buy into it the whole thing. And that literally millions of people in America love to watch. And that no one blinks an eye nowadays at the ridiculous lines about how “this is working for them”, or that they are “falling in love” (now a Very Official Step before being “in love” and later “loving” someone), or are there “for the right reasons”. And that people are surprised when 95% of the couples don’t stay together. It is a total overproduced train wreck. And I kind of love it. (And I really love Farmer Chris who’s coming up next!)
7. I don’t enjoy social media.
Social media is a pretty crucial part of most bloggers’ jobs. But I would honestly give it up in a heartbeat if I wasn’t a blogger. Google+ confuses me, Twitter overwhelms me, and Facebook frustrates me. And while I once loved Pinterest and Instagram, even those sites more often than not leave me wrestling with comparison and feeling “less than” after comparing my feeds to others’ seemingly perfect lives. (Which I totally know are not perfect, but still, those photos sure paint a pretty picture.) Still, I do believe that social media is a “neutral” in and of itself, and it’s all about how you use it. So I’m trying to be more intentional with how, why, when, and how much I use it nowadays. And also figure out how to separate back out some of my personal and business accounts, and make them more fun and “me” again, vs. trying to keep up with the social media Jones’. But sometimes I long for the good ol’ days of…AOL instant messenger? ;)
8. I don’t clean my own house.
This is a recent development, but it’s true. I hired a really awesome professional to come clean my house twice a month, and I have decided it is one of the best investments I have ever made both work-wise and personally. Yes, I know that I’m single. And yes, I know that I just live in a 1-bedroom loft. And yes, it is something that two years ago I totally would never have considered was an option for me. But my friends and family can attest that I positively tornado the place while cooking and shooting multiple recipes a day. And I already spend 30-60 minutes each day doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, and work significantly more than 40 hours a week on top of that. So I decided I would rather work during the time I could be cleaning and pay someone to help out, and it…has…been…amazing! My house looks great, I don’t have to worry about scrubbing down the place for last-minute entertaining, and I even get to learn about cool natural DIY cleaners from the girl who cleans my place and makes it smell like eucalyptus. Win-WIN.
9. I feel most alive when I’m singing in worship.
This isn’t something I’m “afraid” to tell you, but it is an important part of my life that I don’t talk about a ton on the blog. To be sure, there are many, many things in life that make me feel alive — real conversations with good friends, that exhilarating feeling after a good workout, the smell of sesame oil, driving through the Kansas plains, experiencing life in a new culture, a good hug, falling asleep during a thunderstorm, beautiful harmonies, a homemade meal shared around the table, and a thousand other things that make this life so rich. But it was in college that I discovered the thing that quite simply makes me feel alive like nothing else — singing in worship. It’s the place that I believe I found and felt God for the first time. It’s the place where I have come back to Him, again and again. It’s the place where I’m challenged, strengthened, and where I often find hope. But quite simply, it’s the place in life when my mind can move beyond focusing on me and focus most on God and so many other things that are really important in life. It helps that I love music, so specifically singing in worship is my favorite spiritual discipline, especially at my church while standing alongside other friends. But just like prayer — which, worship is simply a kind of prayer — worship is something that’s woven into my everyday life far beyond Sunday mornings. And I love it. So all that to say, it is definitely one of those things that I may not blog about every day, but is a very important part of my everyday life and affects how I blog.
10. I’m 31, and I still don’t know what I want to “do” with my life. :)
This is not news to many of you who follow the blog closely. (I think I may win the award as the most indecisive blogger ever!) But I have to admit that I’m still on the fence about blogging as a career. There are a hundred things that I absolutely love about it. And I am immensely grateful for every single day I’ve had the chance to try out this blogging as a job, and for every single person who has ever clicked on a page and allowed me the chance to do so. BUT, if I’m completely honest, I still feel like I haven’t quite found my balance or my “niche” within the blogging world. So that makes me wonder if I need to (a) change my focus, potentially shifting a little more away from food and more into lifestyle posts or blogging coaching, or (b) turn this back into a hobby and take on a job with a local non-profit or go to law school or go live in Central America for a few years or… (c) stick with the path I’m on and just get through this busy season, and then let everything continue to gradually evolve and shift naturally just as it has the last few years. I’ll probably stick with that last answer for now. :) But by contrast to so many of my blogging friends who are so passionate about this industry and see it as a long-term career, I still feel like I won’t be doing the exact thing I’m doing now 10, 5, or perhaps even 1 year from now. Who knows! I guess we’ll see…