This blog has been an interesting experiment for me and Heather. We started blogging to support our little app SitterNote, initially limiting ourselves to carefully curated, upbeat content solely focused on working mom subjects: things like transitioning back into work after maternity leave, or how to make childcare more affordable.
Then one day, Heather sent me a link to an article that made her angry; it was about why women leave tech jobs. I had the exact same angry reaction to the article, and within an hour I’d typed up a very personal, decidedly not upbeat post in response. Heather and I spent the rest of the day editing my draft and prevaricating about whether we should publish it. Obviously we decided to do so, and a few days later Heather published her own extremely personal story.
Our traffic went through the roof.
And suddenly our blog had taken on quite a different quality, and developed a life of its own.
People have asked us whether it’s scary to write about personal, sometimes controversial, frankly feminist topics and put that writing out into the troll-filled abyss that is the Internet. (It is.) People have asked us whether we worry that writing about subjects like the election will cause us to lose readers. (We do worry, but so far it’s been the opposite – we find that the scarier it is to hit the “publish” button on a post, the more the writing seems to resonate with readers.)
In all honesty, I think people continue to be kind of shocked that two goody-goody type-A people pleasers like me and Heather are writing anything other than careful, upbeat, easy-to-swallow posts.
We’re kind of surprised too.
But here’s where we net out on it. We’re both in our forties now (well, technically I turn 40 this Thursday), and with this age has come a lovely and unexpected freedom. Other than our family and close friends, we worry so much less about what other people think of us. I cannot stress how good this feels.
And along with our newfound freedom, we have learned that it feels much better and healthier to say what we’re thinking rather than to keep silent.
We still have guardrails – we work hard to keep our writing respectful and thoughtful. We don’t discuss people we know personally without their consent. We don’t do rudeness.
But we speak our minds these days, and we do not apologize for it.
Want to know what happens when you blog honestly about topics like sexual harassment in the workplace, sexism, why women shouldn’t quit their jobs, divorced parenting, sexual assault, explaining our president-elect to our children, and political activism? A few people block you on Facebook. You get some troll comments on Twitter, and maybe a mean email or two. Some old friends unsubscribe from your blog’s monthly email newsletter. And a couple people IM you and tell you maybe you should tone it down a bit.
After a month or two, this stops bothering you even the tiniest little bit.
Because in addition to hearing from the haters and the trolls, you get emails, phone calls, texts, and messages thanking you for writing. You have friends tell you they read along literally nodding their heads because they agree so thoroughly with the message you’re trying to convey. You discover that some of your most difficult life experiences are not unique, and that in fact you have a network of people around you who have walked a similar path, who understand you, and who offer you their solidarity. (And we are deeply grateful for those of you who fall into this category, more than you know.)
You start to breathe a little bit easier every single day, because you are presenting your honest self to the world.
This is the beauty and magic of being a little bit older. The unimportant people pleasing drops away, and the profound importance of using your true voice becomes clearer.
None of us are getting out of this alive, so we might as well use the time we have to talk openly and honestly. We might as well try to make this world a tiny bit kinder, fairer and more empathetic for our children, who will be adults themselves very soon. Even if we displease some people in the process. Isn’t that tradeoff worth it?
Do you have a story to tell or something to say? Ask yourself this: what is the worst thing that could happen if I speak my mind? I’m serious, think of the worst possible consequence. Then decide whether it’s worth it to speak out, with all the possible benefits that brings. We’re betting it is.
We’re even offering you this space as your platform. If social media isn’t the right place for your thoughts, or if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to start your own blog, send us an email. We’d be honored to share your story.