“You think 1/3 of your readers don’t live in the United States? Those people aren’t really readers, those are just people setting up fake profiles to spam your blog.”
I had spent hours looking at their profiles, and learning about my readers through reading their blogs. “Oh, I get those sometimes too. I have followers in Canada, Australia, Iran, India and Luxembourg, plus other places. Over 1/2 of my readers are under 50 years old.”
“On a genealogy blog? Are you sure about that?”
“My blog isn’t the typical genealogy blog.” I was grateful that it was dark in the van we were riding in, because my cheeks were getting red as I tried to defend myself to a woman who had been blogging longer than I had.
“I have heritage crafts, and personal narratives. I’m writing about facing my 40 fears before I turn 40. It’s hard to explain.” I handed her my card.
“Just read it, and you’ll see what I mean.”
We had arrived at the party, and everyone piled out of the van. I spent the next 2 hours socializing with other genealogy bloggers and learning more about them before the group of us climbed back into the van we were carpooling in.
During our van trip back to the city, with the other bloggers, I shared part of my story. I told them about the important decision 4 years ago my husband and I made to move to the mountains with our 4 boys.
I summarized that it had been difficult to go from the top 2% of American wealth to below poverty level. I said that it was hard, but I felt that my husband and I were doing what we needed to be doing at this point in our lives. I was grateful that we lived in a community that embraced people regardless of income and that there wasn’t judgement about what we lacked.
My sharing vulnerabilities led to a woman from New Zealand talking about her difficult childhood after her father died leaving her mother a widow. She spoke about the sacrifices and hard work her mother spent to raise her and her sister.
I asked if that had impacted the way that she made financial decisions.
Was she afraid of being poor like that again?
She said that she and her husband owned their home free and clear. They had never gone on expensive vacations, and never had a lot either. She wanted to make sure that her children always had a roof over their heads. I told her how wonderful it was that she could make those decisions and help her family.
When we are vulnerable, and share our stories… not just the surface parts of life, we create deep and meaningful connections.
We stopped at a hotel to let some of our group out of the van.
One of the men in the van mentioned that he was living in another country where he didn’t speak the language.
“Wow. That must be so lonely for you.”
Before he could answer, the woman from earlier who had questioned my blog responded,
“Geeze. Not everything has to be so serious. It’s not like he was planning on going to the psychiatrist today. Maybe I should move over on the seat, so he can lay down or something.”
Her words slapped me, and I apologized.
“I wasn’t trying to charge you a nickel or anything. ” It was a reference to a Peanuts cartoon, and my attempt at levity.
“Maybe you should charge him a nickel. You’re the one that’s having financial issues right now. You could probably use it.”
She must have seen the stunned expression on my face through the shadows in the van.
She said she was just joking, but I didn’t see the humor. No one laughed.
As we pulled up to the next hotel, I asked where we were, said goodbye to the other bloggers in the van, and got out.
I didn’t know where I was. in relation to the hotel I was staying at, but I needed to escape.
I barely made it around the corner.
I didn’t want her, or anyone else to see me cry. I didn’t want her to know how much she had hurt me.
But she had. A lot.
She had shamed me after I had been vulnerable and honest.
I sobbed the whole walk back to my friend’s house.
I had been vulnerable, and been rejected… again. I was mad at myself for trusting her with my story.
I’ve thought about that night a lot since then. Would I change how I responded? Why did she say that? Did I share too much?
I’ve realized that the why doesn’t matter.
I’m not good at pretending I care about things when I don’t.
You might love your cat like a person and throw him birthday parties you invite neighbors to. I’ll nod politely when you tell me about it. But, I won’t be coming to the party because A) I don’t really like cake and B) It’s a party for a cat.
By being vulnerable and sharing my story, I feel connected to you. I get hurt sometimes when I’m vulnerable, like that night in the van. Most of the time, I am rewarded.
You share your vulnerabilities with me.
You acknowledge my struggle.
You say, “Me too”.
I cried when I saw the email last week. It was a sobbing, ugly cry like that night after the van. Except, this time, my crying was accompanied by overwhelming joy.
My blog post was being featured on WordPress Discover. I had met the biggest writing goal I set for myself this year.
I’ve asked my friends for advice about approaching this first blog post after being featured on Discover.
They overwhelmingly said to be myself.
I’m Genealogy Jen, but I’m not a typical genealogy blogger. I do Repurposed Genealogy. I write at least one blog post per week.
On the first of every month, I write for Hoagie’s gifted education.
At least once a month, I’ll share a fun craft or DIY project.
Or, I’ll just write about something random.
I have a weekly challenge for you to work on with me at the end of most of my posts.
Welcome to my newest followers who are WordPress writers from all over the world. Thank you for following me, and helping me reach my final 2016 blogging goal.
Thank you for traveling with me on my journey. I can’t promise that I will always write something you will want to read. I promise you that I will be honest with you, and tell you my truth, and my story. That’s also what I expect in return from you.
No one can tell your story the way that you can. It’s your truth.
Here’s a Free 4×6 102 x 152 mm (I converted it to metric for you. Is that helpful? ) printable to hang where you write as a reminder.
And hey, it’s cuter than a post-it note right?
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the week- You know that thing? The one that you haven’t written about, because you don’t know where to even begin? The story you’re afraid to tell because it’s so painful? Start writing it today. It doesn’t matter if the words flow. You don’t need to publicly post it on your blog if you’re not ready. But, your story needs to be told. Let it out.
Bonus Points- Be vulnerable. Sometimes, you just need to hit publish. Comment and share a link for us to read.