I think it’s time to be honest. This just isn’t working out. And you know it as well as I do.
It’s been a week or so since I posted, and no one has asked about the blog, so I’m sure I could just slip away quietly. But I felt like I wanted to move on honestly.
When I began this project in January, I did so with the best of intentions. I wanted to open myself up to new experiences. I wanted to make a commitment and stick to it. And I wanted to try and foster conversations, whether they were about the new things I was doing, or about the challenges of trying new things in the first place.
I had plans for this blog. Some of them were pretty big. I wanted to try hot air ballooning or bungee jumping. Some were more… sociocultural, perhaps. I was going to brave the beach in a bikini, despite the fact that I’ve refused to wear a two-piece swimsuit since the age of three, and then write about body images, and certain implications of certain clothing.
Or, if we’re being honest, I was probably going to write about how it was a horrible, humiliating experience, and how I just don’t get you skinny bitches who walk around on the beach in underwear.
Some of my goals were silly — go blonde (wig, I’m not bleaching my hair, no sir, no ma’am); do karaoke, audition for a musical. Basically, make an ass of myself.
I think it worked for a while. There were good days and bad days. I did find that I was more inclined to try new things, to go to places I hadn’t been, to brave new frontiers a bit. A bit.
But here’s the truth: While part of my goal here was to become a bit braver, I think what I might have achieved is a reminder of who I am. I am someone who enjoys going new places, and enjoys trying new things, but who does not enjoy making a fool of myself. Maybe some might say I should learn to be less self-conscious, but I’m really okay with that part of me, especially if that part of me prevents me from doing too many things that make others question my level of sanity and/or sobriety.
And there’s the matter of logistics. I came up with the idea for The Something New Project shortly after leaving a job that was just wrong for me. I wanted to stay relevant, I think. But when you’re not working, you don’t have a lot of money to do things like hot air ballooning and bungee jumping. And despite terms like “funemployed” and “at liberty,” if you’re smart, you’re not crawling in time, because you’re focused on looking for work.
I’ve recently taken on a position as Editorial Director for a brand new start up, The Daily Do Good, which is going to be a new adventure in itself. It’s my first time really being a major part of managing and running a business, and I feel like my contributions will be a big part of whether we thrive or don’t. I’m also freelancing in various writing and editorial capacities, continuing to look for other stories to pitch, making sure to give proper time to my health, my partner and my home, trying to expand my network of friends and colleagues, and am still getting to know my new city.
It’s not that I don’t feel like I am learning something new every day. God knows that’s not the case. Some days, I felt like I had to postpone something new so I could have it on hand to write about the next day. It’s just, well, sometimes you don’t realize you’ve learned something until a while later, you know? So I feel like a lot of the things I write about have been… what’s the word? Artificial, maybe? Or I start something because I need a new thing, but I haven’t had time to appreciate something else. I think I have four or five half-read books now. Some undertakings take a lot longer than one day, and it just has gotten to the point where my hands are too full.
And the big truth is, I’ve stopped enjoying this. It’s just felt like pressure for a while, but really only from within. I know there are people who read this or even comment, and I’m so grateful, but it’s not as though anyone is clamoring for these posts. That sounds like complaining, I know, but it’s not actually intended as such. I’ve been talking to a few other blogging ladies of late, and they all tell me the same thing: You have to do it for yourself. I haven’t really felt like that lately. But if I also haven’t been writing for the eager audience, well then who? Isn’t there enough pressure to get things done than we don’t need to put burden on ourselves to do things that don’t need to be done?
On Thursday night, I stood on a bridge with my sweetheart and our dear friend, and we read prayers and tossed bread in the water as part of a private Tashlich ceremony for the Jewish New Year. We talked about casting off our sins and negative burdens, and I thought about reassessing all that I’ve been carrying and juggling, especially in my own head.
I certainly don’t regret trying this project. I think it was a good idea, and I can honestly say I feel like I made a valiant effort. I also think that under other circumstances, or perhaps with different parameters, it could have worked very well. So I hope that anyone who had their doubts from the start will resist the urge to say “I told you so.”
In the last ten months, I’ve gleaned some important lessons about blogging. First, don’t commit to doing it every day. You’ll drive yourself insane. I’ve started referring to this blog as “my very dubious blogging venture of 2014.” Or, if you do, make sure you’re blogging about something you really enjoy. I enjoy the concept of learning new things, but I don’t always find the things I learn or do to be especially memorable or worthy of being immortalized on the Internet. As a newspaper reporter, I wrote a lot of stories on topics about which I did not give a damn. But that was my job and I was getting paid. Poorly, but I was getting paid. When you’re blogging, you need to give a damn.
Next, be topical. I think this blog started to lose its identity. It wavered somewhere in the spaces between personal and topical and thematic. There were too many instances of “why should the reader give a damn?” And while I could say, “Well, if someone likes cooking, she’ll give a damn,” the truth is that if someone takes the time to visit a blog, there should be a pretty high likelihood of give-a-damn.
And then, make a contribution. Be sure you’re blogging about something current, or something helpful, or something that can teach people something. Or tell a good story. The idea of something new every day is a good theory, but it’s too scattered. Maybe if I’d started out with the notion of something new every week, or every month, or I’d decided to undertake a large project over the course of one year, like making a quilt or learning to speak German or losing 50 pounds, that would have been better.
If you’ve been reading this project, I think one thing we can all agree on is that I have a particular love of food and cooking. So I’m going to take a little bit of a break from regular blogging, but in the not terribly distant future, if I’m going to blog, I think something with a culinary bent is the way to go, don’t you? Maybe this project can serve as a roadway of sorts to a place that’s better.
Ugh, that was such a navel-gazey thing to say. Really, who am I, some poetry-writing teenager musing on her place in the world? Shut up.
And (shameless self-promotion, because what else are these things for), if you want to keep up the conversations, please follow my blog on my portfolio site, www.hollyleber.com, where I will occasionally comment on random things from How I Met Your Mother to Sheryl Sandberg, and follow me on Twitter at @hollyleber, where I retweet articles of random interest, grammarshame, abuse the hashtag, and just generally take the piss out of life. That’s what Twitter’s for, right?
This is the end of The Something New Project, but it’s not the end of my effort to expose myself (not in a dirty way, though that would be something new) to more new lessons and adventures in my life. I think this venture has taught me to be a little more open, to look for the discovery in the day-to-day, and to ask myself, “what’s the worst that could happen” before automatically rejecting an idea.
Ugh, I feel like I should have some profound way to end this. I really don’t. And I have to go unload the dishwasher, and figure out what I’m doing for dinner. If you’ve been along with me on this ride, thanks. Thanks a lot.