By Kimberly Cooper Thomas, J.D.
Assistant Dean of Student Conduct
About two years ago, I sat down with a friend to discuss the idea of me as a blogger. This friend’s idea for me was more of a directive than a cool idea worth sharing. She said, “You are a really good writer and you have a lot of great insights to share. You should have a blog.” Prior to our coffee date, I had never considered blogging. The truth was that I didn’t even know what a blog was — I didn’t even follow any blogs!
I have used journals to record my thoughts in the past, but I explained to my friend that I purposefully decided NOT to journal because people are nosey and I have had my privacy violated. The notion that I should put my thoughts in a venue for people to read freely felt frightening and foreign to me. That said, many people have encouraged me to write about parenting because my kids are such cool kids. In fact, my friend and I often talked about the job of parenting and our lives in the shadows of our families.
Although I understood her interest in my insightful experiences and belief I should blog about shadow dwelling, I was immediately overwhelmed by the possibility that I should give myself permission to use my emotional energy and take time to develop something for myself, about myself. Despite my initial resistance, my friend continued to email me assignments, then she checked on me periodically via text messaging to encourage me to continue to take steps that got me closer to going live with the blog. She would ask me how things were going, had I thought of a name yet, did I find words to describe the takeaways I wanted for my audience, and what categories would I use to label the site. Oh, the pressure! It took eight months of strong nudging from my friend to compel me to complete my blog and click the “go live” button on the blog site.
So, part of the reason I became a blogger was because someone said I should and I trusted her and decided to just try. Honestly, her comments initially aggravated me, but the voice of my friend encouraging me to dig deeper into the why of my journey helped me find another reason to blog: I wanted to offer encouragement to folks who might be going through some things in life and feeling alone. I wanted to offer the caretakers of family members a caring, sincere, transparent voice to empower and enlighten them.
At first, I wrote anonymously because I believed that people needed positive messages and insights to ease the burdens of their daily challenges and in the ways of a true shadow dweller my identity was not necessary to accomplish that end. I did not believe it was necessary that the people knew my name – I had become comfortable in the shadows. But, writing was cathartic. Once I started writing there was nothing that freed me like putting the pen to the paper to clear my head and realign my soul. The idea that I could empower others and find a place to sort through my issues was enough for me.
In the beginning, I did a lot of writing just to generate blog posts, but eventually the power of storytelling took over. What initially frightened me became slightly addictive and I really started to love to learn more about how to manage the technical aspects of my blog account independent of my friend.
Confronting my initial fear helped me grow.
I started blogging because a friend said I needed to blog. I continue to blog because I found a safe place to share my heart and my experiences and because my words have the power to encourage, empower, and enlighten others. I continue to blog because my blog posts rarely end like I believe they will when I start writing. Learning that I don’t have to know the end for the thing to end beautifully helps me to live more freely in other aspects of my life. Selfishly, I continue to blog because I find pleasure and thrill in the accomplishment. I continue to blog because get a rush when people comment or like my blog. I get super excited when someone says that something I wrote helped them in any way. I continue to blog because I have learned that most people do not like to admit that they are flawed or challenged.
My blog opened a creative window in my mind. Previously, I had only considered the limitations, but my blog has affirmed my passion for being an excellent villager and presented opportunities to enter villages I never anticipated visiting because other people see the pureness of my passion and the consistency of my heart and my voice. That makes my soul sing. I never expected that my decision to take a step into a vast, unknown scary place would inspire someone else to dare to experiment with possibility. Finally, I continue to blog because I remain hopeful that something I write will bless the lives of young people, provide tangible truths, relatable life experiences, hope, inspiration and support to people in places I have not seen or imagined.