“I want to make a toast,” Megan announced to the party as she held up her glass. “To Annie.”
Oh no. I quickly reached for the bottle of sparkling wine that sat on our kitchen counter along with an assortment of cheeses, dips, crackers and drinks galore.
Earlier in the day the counter space was the site of a science experiment we had been dreaming of performing during our Whole30 diet. The hypothesis: Could smashing pre-made cinnamon roll dough into a waffle maker be the most delicious thing ever? Being the last day of the diet, it was time for the test which yielded favorable results.
Friends now gathered to partake in the carb smashing festivities and christen our new apartment which was filled with unpacked boxes only days before. Thanks to a little boob sweat and beers, the unpacking process commenced just as our guests arrived.
“It’s been a year since The Story of My Life started, and I’m so proud of Annie and what she’s done with it,” Megan sweetly said. The party was also 1/3 SOML’s 1st birthday party too, complete with Sprinkles cupcakes and flamingo candles.
A Year Ago
At 11:58 p.m. on a Thursday evening in Scottsdale our apartment was quiet. My roommates were asleep. I had 2 more minutes to wait in an effort to honor the promise I had made to myself that Monday.
“Thestoryofmylife.com is available, and I want it. What do you think?” I asked my officemate as soon as he had sat down that Monday morning. He knew that I recently ran a final test with my greeting card company, inspired by The Lean Startup. If my test succeeded then I would keep selling greeting cards. If my test failed, I would pivot.
When the test results weren’t as positive as Cinnabon waffles, it was time to pivot.
“Not worth it. That’s a lot of money,” he answered when he heard the price tag.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though and stalked the domain hourly. What would I do if I was trying to pitch my CEO on a new product idea? I would make a pitch deck. So that’s what I did.
With pink headers and colorful charts and clipart, I pitched myself on the purchase with a 10 slide Google presentation. For some girls the price was less than a handbag, but for the girl who only sports Target and TJ Maxx workout wear, it felt like splurging on head-to-toe Lulu. I gave myself until the end of the week to determine if I was sold.
At midnight I quickly grabbed my debit card from the nightstand and punched in the numbers with shaking hands. The confirmation screen almost made me cry. SOML had a new home.
It was the fastest I unpacked in my life. Within a week’s time, I moved from Shopify to WordPress. I exported the posts that I wanted and threw away the junk. I organized the content into categories, and styled the site from fonts to footer widgets. Story of My Life Card’s broken heel logo proudly hung at the top with a fresh name: “SOML”
“Now, feel free to take a look around, make yourself at home and stay tuned for even more boxes and blog posts to be unpacked,” I wrote at the end of my first post. I was ready for visitors.
And slowly they came.
Over 10,000 visitors a month now come to witness the walk of shames, candid confessions and lessons learned. They have peeked in my closet at the organized mess. They have met my kick-ass friends. And some of them have even reached out to say “hello” with no idea how much it truly makes my day.
There are a few things that I have learned along the way, including the 5 realizations below.
5 Things My Blog Has Taught Me
1. Authenticity is sexy.
As obnoxious as the name “Girl Crush” is, it is one of my favorite categories on SOML. I used to believe that the length of my shorts or the size of my waist determined if a guy would be attracted to me. Then one day I asked myself what attracts me to the girls I interview for SOML.
While they are all beauties, I don’t really care if they’re wearing a swimsuit or an oversized men’s tee. I’m interested in the fact that they are wearing exactly what they want to wear. I’m drawn to them because they get themselves. They laugh loudly and don’t apologize. They are pursuing their ambitions and living authentically.
That’s the type of girl I strive to be.
2. You won’t please everyone.
“Maybe I would be making money if I was writing something more relatable.. if I was married.. or had a baby.. or cared about fashion. My life is too weird.” These thoughts taunted me when I started writing. I assumed that no one could relate to feeling bad at sex or having crushes on guy friends.
Sometimes I’m surprised by how many people I reach, and other times there are low pageviews. And that’s okay. Even if one person reads and says, “Thank you – I needed that” then it was well worth writing.
3. Write the truest sentence that you know.
I actually learned it from Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, but it has helped me tremendously with SOML and has become how I start each post.
4. It’s not the length of the story that matters.
After the Hooking Up Without Expectations blog post, a reader reached out to me asking, “Maybe if you talked to him about it then you’d know his feelings. But did no response make it timeless? Did writing about it make it timeless?” I understood what he meant. And the answer was “yes.”
I am a recovering sentimentalist. Writing has allowed me a way to create meaning from experiences instead of sending needy texts or seeking romance from a relationship in which it is not right.
As a result, some of SOML’s characters are only in one post while others span the entire site. However, the number of stories doesn’t matter that much. What matters is the memory and the meaning. What was wonderful about the experience? What did I learn from it?
5. Start failing now.
I’ve met with multiple people over the past year who want to start a blog, and one of the first things I tell them is “Start failing now.” While a few lucky ventures experience overnight success, most of them are the result of a million mini failures. Tons of tiny pivots. Each day that you wait is only delaying the process.
Besides, failing can be exciting. In my case, it meant purchasing a new domain for my writing so I could pursue my passion. Since then I have received offers to buy it for 5 times the amount. But it’s not for sale.
It’s my home. And each week I am still unpacking – sometimes with a little boob sweat and beers.