I Remember You Was Conflicted: On Six Years of Blogging

I remember you was conflicted

Misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power, full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

Found myself screaming in the hotel room

I didn’t wanna self destruct

The evils of Lucy was all around me

So I went running for answers

Until I came home…

– Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly

The concept of K.Dot’s third LP best illustrates how this last year has been for me and Everything EnJ. If you didn’t hear the album or get the gist of it, here it is in short: a caterpillar is imprisoned by its environment thanks in part to its fetishization of success and exploitation. It goes through a phase in which it cocoons itself in internal struggle and ultimately finds the answers its been searching for in its roots, later emerging as a butterfly. Here’s the intersection between K.Dot’s third and my six years of blogging:

Phase One

Everything EnJ has been my playground. I have climbed to the top of the slide with the process of ascension feeling like both an agonizing journey at times and a pleasurable experience of reaching what feels like the top. You get to that place–the personal apex–and you take the aerial view in, like a high, before realizing it’s a shorter trip back to the bottom than it is the top. You think, “I did ‘it’ and now, I have to hold on to ‘that.’”

So when the content in my work really deviated from what became the norm of this space, things happened–great shit, really–and it was a continual climb, soak in, slide back down and do over again-sort of process. That thrill of seeing everyone around me in the park, busy at hand kept me going, kept me rushing to the top full of adrenaline, hungry for more. Hungry for the sight of what it feels like at the highest point in the playing field; a ravenous kind of desire to feel like you’re the someone, even if for a second because you know there’s people behind you waiting, for the same turn, the same temporary fix before the reality kicks in. Before the trip back down and around.

Climb, soak in, slide back down, do over again.

A very hungry caterpillar, indeed.

Every trek up and down awarded me with bragging rights, a hidden sense of power and control, and a feeling of euphoria, every time. I was a hard worker. Everyone wants to be seen as the hard worker. Blogging became more of an adventure for me than a challenge and the Black Weblog Award win solidified that feeling. I never wanted to come down from that slide after a while. I built an imaginary fort at the top with people telling me I inspire them as the foundation. I forgot my why.

I remember you was conflicted

Misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power, full of resentment…

Second Segment

I came across a quote from Audre Lorde:

I have come to believe over and over again, that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal, and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

I had to do it. Write it. Speak it. But there is inconspicuous bruising. I noticed sometimes spilling the authenticity of your reality leaves stains that take time to go away, if ever. You’ll always be remembered for this. The words that left you in your bed, hiding under a comforter and finding none, but had twenty-something women shooting you emails about how they’ll always remember your words because they were abused, too; left, too; were tired, too; experienced loss, too. Those words linger on, leaving a faint scarring smeared across the HTML coding in this space from living in truth. I’ve thought about deleting posts, but the sentences I strung together about abuse and abortion, would’ve wavered around. It would always be there, even when it wasn’t visibly there.

Early 2015, I wanted to stop. I fought myself a lot which factored into not being able to produce content as often as the months prior. I thought maybe I was “glorifying the struggle too much;” I read that a lot. It haunted me often.

I sat up at night and wondered how much was too much, drawing imaginary lines at various intervals that would resonate with women and cause resentment and regrets within myself. More on the relationship, but that was almost non-existent when things took off. More on my children, but I barely saw my boys and couldn’t find a balance between passion and parenthood.

I did a lot of self-reflection and guilt trippin’. I saw the effects of blogging long-term.

Sacrifice and an expensive price to pay for personal liberation.

Purpose looks a lot like the layout to the board game Candy Land for most people–a colorful highway to your life’s calling–but when you’ve been doing it for six years, you realize it’s more resemblant to that of Chutes and Ladders.

If you’re going to be at the top of the slide with all eyes on you, you better be prepared for the pressure. The pressure to keep cranking out posts and inspiring people when you don’t feel inspired yourself.

People will tell you everything about blogging except that it gets tiring. It is exhausting and often ugly. It isn’t wrapped in hearts and people always rooting you on. Some people are on the sideline with their foot out, waiting to trip you up. Falling is inevitable. People watching your next move to copy and pass off as their own is inevitable. Feeling like you don’t want to do this anymore happens. You’re not always going to knock out posts effortlessly. You won’t always feel inspired regardless of who’s in your circle. A lot of bloggers want to tell you everything except this. But I believe you can’t walk in the truth if you don’t want to tell the truth.

So I went running for answers

Until I came home…

The Last. The Present. 

I don’t believe in the calm without the chaos. I should’ve known I was going to be in my feelings post-BWA, VIBE, Cosmo. But emotions elevate as we do. Pressures, evils, temptations, desires; there disguised as lessons.

In six years, I’ve learned that being at the top is not my desire. I’m not built for it. I don’t want people kissing my ass–there’s enough of that in blogging. I, contrary to belief, am not successful. I am blessed, but in that state of having “arrived,”, I am not. I wonder if I’m enough. My household somehow manages to just get by month after month. I don’t pay my bills on time. My cable is actually cut off at this moment–five days in. I’m not happy with what I do. I want to move because the cost of living in New York City is too damn high, but my finances aren’t in order to up and move. I’m still a regular girl. And in my solitude, my cocoon, I realized I’m not glorifying a struggle, but instead acknowledging and living my truth.

You see a lot when you’re at your ‘top.’

But I saw that where I belong is back on the ground–with the people playing alone, in the grass, free. My kind of people are the ones on the other side of the fence, looking in. What Binds Us Together is for the women who don’t mind getting dirty and getting real. I am most proud of that this year than anything else on this space because every story came from a place of sincerity. The series served as a true testament to liberation.

When I really wanted to let Everything EnJ go, those stories kept me holding on, so if nothing else, I have to thank the women who contributed stories this last year and the ones who are next up. You brought me back home, redirected my attention to the bigger picture behind this blogging thing, and reminded me the cost of freedom involves some bruising and humility. I’m so ready for September…

Biggest lesson learned in six years of blogging? Going back home keeps you humble.

Remember your way…remember your why.

Five for Five: Happy Birthday everything EnJ!


When I attended the Blogging While Brown conference a few weekends ago, I was interviewed by an employee for Comcast Xfinity that wanted me to share my experience as a blogger. The first question she asked me was how long had I been blogging and I proudly told her a whopping five years. The last question she asked me was how long did I think I could continue to blog, in which, I told her, for as long as I live. She had a puzzled look on her face and to diffuse the expression, I told her something along the lines of a quote that I love from Tyece, “writing is not how I make my living, it’s how I make my life.”

Everything EnJ started off Mommy-inspired, transitioned into an all-out random conglomerate of What Thee Hell into Let-Me-Just-Give-It-To-Y’all-Like-It-Is. Five years of just mess, redesigning, figuring it out, questioning what works for blogging v. what works for me. It hasn’t been easy although some people make it look really simple with their how-to tips on up and leaving your job to focus on your brand. I know that I have a lot left to learn, do, fix, and say when it comes to blogging, but in five years, I’ve gained so much – knowledge, friends and genuine support. This post is about lessons, goals, my favorite posts ever, my favorite bloggers & their posts and surprises! Ready?

I. Top Five Blogs & Posts

Yetti SAYS by Yetti
Fave Five?

Twenties Unscripted by Tyece Wilkins
Fave Five?

All The Many Layers by GG Renee Hill
Fave Five?
You’re Wrong. I’m Right. Here’s Why. 

From A Wildflower by Kimberly Luxe & Co.
Fave Five?
The First Part Last 

Dopeness in NY: The Ramblings of S.Ellis, the writer. by Stacy Ellis
Fave Five?
The Rain Has Never Been A Friend


II. Top Five Favorite Posts

A Dedication PostWhat I love about this post? I wrote this entire thing in my head on the day of Dr. Maya Angelou’s transcendence. I had nothing to jot the thoughts down on but the moment I got home, the words spilled out like water in a matter of minutes. That’s the power of influence someone has on your life.

A Birthday PostWhat I love about this post? I struggled the most with this post, taking 5 days to write but it came out exactly how I wanted it to, summarizing a beautiful 26th year of life.

A Real PostWhat I love about this post? Misogyny and feminism on Twitter triggered the words behind this post. I didn’t want to sugarcoat any of my emotions and this is probably one of the most honest pieces I ever wrote.

A Lesson Learned PostWhat I love about this post? Twenty things I learned as a twenty-something on Twenties Unscripted. This gets me excited for my 30 Lessons in Your 30’s Post.

2013

A Recap PostWhat I love about this post? I’m all for progression and moving forward but sometimes we need little reminders of what once was, who we were before and past lessons to remind us to be grateful for growth, even if it does seem like a scary thing.


III. Top Five Lessons Learned in Five Years 

You Aren’t In This Alone
No one sits down with you as you relive the experiences, holds your hand as your type your stories or pats your back when you hesitate hitting Publish, but for every comment that makes its way onto your blog that contains the words helpedencouraged, pushed me or me too, it gives me comfort and reassurance that in this big ol’ world we live in, someone else has run the same race – and won. It’s the difficult posts that give way to those emails that make me cry and keep me writing. Someone’s words once saved me and in five years, there have been people who have told me that the post with fifty-something views and zero comments, saved theirs.

Black Women Do Look Out For One Another
We get called a lot of things but supportive isn’t one you’d find in the top five. In the blogging world however, I’ve found a community, a sisterhood more so, of women who are for building up one another instead of breaking down. Regardless of where we’re at with our respective platforms, I have yet to come across a woman who acts superior on or offline as a writer compared to her counterpart. We’re in this together and we’re appreciative of any and every kind of support we get.

In A Fraudulent World, It’s Still Important To Tell The Truth
I see it so much now – everyone is a life coach, relationship expert, knows the “real deal behind turning your blog into a business”… with no credibility. Sorry, not sorry. When it comes to blogging, there are a plethora of folks who reach a certain number of subscribers and feel as if they know it all and they give themselves these titles and stamps of approval with zero credentials. As a writer and a reader, I know that there are people, myself included, who read your work and hope that what they’re reading is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help your reputation if you’re caught out there being a fraud. Today, social media is #1 for exposing people and one thing I vowed to myself is to be real by being me. The connections I’ve made as a blogger have come from the side-eye worthy and oh-no-she-didn’t-type posts and as uncomfortable as it can be exposing most of my life to the world, what comes easy is knowing that what I’m sharing is honesty. 

Don’t Underestimate Your Reach
Blogging gives you an audience bigger than what some of us can even imagine. My first event on August 9th, What Binds Us Together: Blogs x Bottomless Brunch sold out in tickets in exactly one hour and thirty minutes. Did it surprise the hell out of me? Absolutely. When I started blogging, I wrote, if not everyday, every other day, and my average views per week were at a 10. Yes, ten. When you see other up and coming bloggers make their way onto the scene with immaculate looking sites and you see that they have a ton of comments on just one post alone, you feel discouraged. People make it look so easy and all my hard work into growing a blog weren’t producing any fruits of my labor. So what did I do? I copied and pasted someone else’s talent and craft in efforts to get my blog where I felt it should’ve been. And that didn’t go well or feel right, but when I put #4 into play, what I wanted came; more comments on posts, more emails in my inbox, more followers on Twitter, more people to connect with. There were people reading all along but never reached out until they could read something relatable. People are reading, which is good, but people want to relate which is even better.

Shut The Fear Up & Be Proud Of Yourself
We don’t toot our own horn enough – for fear that we’ll be labeled arrogant, that someone else is better or we don’t deserve it, but over the years as I wrote down my successes and my struggles (more of the latter than the former) I’ve actually grown to appreciate and love myself more. I had the guts to do what people were fearful of yet I was revered for it, so I shed the layers, documenting my life for the world to see as I started to see myself. Blogging turned into this journey of self-discovery. Sometimes as I wrote, I’d fall into a trance behind the computer screen. I’d go back days, even weeks later, and read what I wrote and go, Girl, whet? Get it! I’d amaze myself and I think the older we get, the more we should practice patting ourselves on our backs for overcoming our experiences and having the balls to share them.


IV. Five Goals for the Next Five Years

All Events Everything. Who doesn’t love a good networking event where you can exchange business cards and blog (horror) stories over drinks? It’s time I meet the faces behind the support and have the readers meet one another.

Continue to Push the Envelope. More a-ha moments, more stories to share.

Let’s Get This Bread. I’m down with Team Humble Beginnings, writing for sites for free but when your network grows, so does your net worth. 

Write It Till Your Fingers Fall Off. Going over my blog, I notice a ton of gaps where there should have been posts, so from here on out, I plan on writing more. As much as I go off on Twitter, I see a ton of rants that can be potential blog posts. 

Feature Some of My Fellow Bloggers. One of the hardest things as an up and coming blogger, is reaching out and gaining the support of your peers; the introvert in you prevents you from pushing a little harder, the fear of rejection stops you from asking people to simply read your work. I know – that was once me. As the blog roll continues to grow, starting in the fall, I plan on featuring some of my Blogger-Boos to contribute and/or spotlight. 


VFive Surprises

Gift Bag Giveaway! Weren’t able to snag a ticket for What Binds Us Together? I’m giving away one gift bag to one lucky lady who couldn’t make it. For a chance to win, all you need to do is share with me five of your favorite blogs (& why), life lessons or goals for the next five years in the comment section. The winner will be chosen Friday, July 25, 2014 at 11:59p.m.
I’m Writing A Book! I’ve started writing my first book late last year. I’ve decided to take the leap and just do it. I’m struggling on the decision to make it a fictional piece or a memoir but it revolves around the cycle of domestic violence in African-American families and how it affects the people that matter most – children.
Twitter Chats! I hosted my first chat last Monday with Kimberly Luxe of From A Wildflower called #wildlE (pronounced Wildly) and it was absolutely amazing (follow-up posts on Q&As soon)! Because of the great feedback, Kim and I thought that Twitter chats should be a monthly thing, so we’re cooking up something great that you should stay tuned for!
I’m Submitting A Super Personal Piece. Any xoJane fans? I love xo’s It Happened To Me posts and in my 2013 piece, I mentioned my father. Well, surprise, surprise, I think I found him last year after twenty-six years. The internet… what a scary, scary place.
The Presence Posts. Is it real? Is it fake? The answer is, it’s half & half. Now the mystery lies in which parts are fictitious and which actually happened. Maybe I’ll write about it, maybe I won’t, but what I will say is, sometimes we write about things before they actually happen. Be careful what you wish for. Be careful what you write…
Thank you to all of you who read this evolving blog of mine. Happy Birthday to my baby & cheers to another five years of highs and lows, beautiful moments and blows, the posts that may not be safe for work and maybe even your soul. 
Biggest thanks to Kimani Fisher of V for Vadge/SneakerFreaker for being there since 2009