Today, Avenue Midwest turns 1!
It’s been a year since I sat in the chair nearest the window at The Book Cellar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood and hit publish on my first post, pushing this little platform into the public eye. Bananas. I can’t believe it’s been an entire year.
A Bit of Reflection
Prior to that May 23rd day, I had been pushing off launching this blog, hesitant to share part of myself in such a public way. In fact, I had to give myself the arbitrary launch deadline of May 23, 2016 – which felt like just enough of a “moment in time” to me, being my ½ birthday and a couple days after Andrew’s birthday – to guilt me into feeling like I would be missing a deadline if I let the date pass. Spoken like a true straight A student, haha, and not in a good way.
Oh, but I’m so glad I met my self-imposed deadline, very much starting from the bottom and setting into motion the now 1-year evolution of this blog in all its shambly glory. The site wasn’t perfect, I had no readers or followers on social media, my photography skills were very subpar (actually, nonexistent), and I knew nothing about managing a website, SEO or wordpress. But the biggest barrier of all? Definitely the little voice in my head telling me I was about to look very dumb for thinking I had something to offer.
A year later and many of these things are still true – the site is definitely not perfect, I don’t spend much time marketing it through social media compared to just about every other blogger I see (which can admittedly cause me anxiety…silly, I know), my photography skills have at least certainly improved though there’s a long way to go, and that little voice of self doubt and self-imposed pressure in my ear still rears its rude little head. In fact, I debated if I should even do this 1 year “birthday” (anniversary? blogiversary?) post because in many ways, I feel like Avenue Midwest is only 6 months old right now as a result of it.
If you’ve been following since the beginning, you know that for the first 6 months of this blog’s life all the way through December, I ended up barely even posting, and I don’t think my face was in a single photo. But since my half year blogging check-up/in some ways, epiphany, I’ve taken a lot of pressure off myself. And duh! 🙂 This is a passion project, so the best part is there are no rules and no pressure.
Year 1 of blogging has been all about getting my feet wet in this space. And the whole not really blogging for 6 months out of its first year thing? Well, that was just part of my personal journey and I embrace that.
There are really three big things I’m taking away from this year and holding tight. So without further adieu…
My Biggest Takeaways From My First Year Blogging
TAKEAWAY NUMBER ONE
One of my biggest takeaways, which I alluded to above, is just how good it feels to tell fear, (eloquently stated) “screw you,” and go for it. For example, have I totally gotten over that awkward feeling of posting photos of myself, or the vulnerability I feel when I write something personal? No. But I’ve sure as hell started to care a whole lot less. And that has encouraged me to share more, feel more confident doing so, and have so much more fun doing it.
You see, there will always be people who are better and worse than you at any given endeavor, and that’s totally ok. This blog is still so small, but I hope that even as it grows, I’ll always treat it the exact same. Same quality and amount of heart. And that’s been a year 1 win for me: accepting that people have done it before me and they’ve done it after me and they’ve done it better than me and they’ve done it faster than me, but there’s still only one me. And that’s what we have to offer, isn’t it? Our unique selves, talents and passions. And we all deserve to live our best life by sharing our passions. It’s so much more fulfilling than keeping them to ourselves.
So if you have an inkling to do something as you sit there today reading this, it’s not random. It’s most likely something you’re really meant to do. Throw fear out the window and go for it, my friend.
TAKEAWAY NUMBER TWO
My second takeaway is related to the fact that when I started this blog, I really needed something. I needed something to fill the creative void I felt and the urge to write about whatever it was I felt like writing about, with no parameters and no strings attached. Avenue Midwest has totally done that for me. Of course, it’s also more work than I ever would have imagined, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed trying to balance it all with my (well beyond) 9-5 job, the groups and organizations I’m involved in outside work, my social life and being a decent (and present!) wife to Andrew. But even hobbies take hard work and dedication, and there’s no hobby I’d rather spend my free time doing.
TAKEAWAY NUMBER THREE
Finally, my third and favorite takeaway: the amount of completely humbling encouragement I’ve felt from you, the readers and supporters of this blog. I truly cannot thank you enough. From Andrew, who’s stepped in as a moonlighting photographer and would have zero interest in this sort of thing if it wasn’t for being married to me (poor guy!), to Kelsey, now one of my best friends who I wouldn’t have even met if it weren’t for blogging (she takes nearly all my pictures and cheers me on unconditionally), to my wonderful family members who are always texting me to tell me they loved my most recent post (including my fifty-something dad who has spent Saturday mornings catching up – obviously the most endearing thing ever) — thank you.
And thank you to the countless people I don’t even know who have proven they are the salt of the earth, messaging me on Instagram or Facebook just to tell me something I posted really hit home with them. And thank you to my mom’s friends who tell her they love following my blog when they see her at the grocery store, and to all the people who have told me they made a recipe I posted or bought a top I wore, and to all the brands (especially the small businesses) who have reached out asking to work together even though I don’t think I’m quite ready to make this sacred hobby profitable yet, and especially, thank you to the surprising and humbling amount of complete strangers who have taken a moment to share my blog posts on their Facebook pages or through emails with their friends and family. Thank you. Every little ‘like,’ blog comment, email, text and direct message uplifts me and encourages me to believe that perhaps the content I’m creating is resonating after all 🙂
Now, I would love to hear what you have to say to me. The below survey (if you’re reading on a cell phone, please access it here as it’ll appear cut off for you below) is totally anonymous and if you don’t have time to answer all the questions, please (please!) answer what you can. It will help me so much in planning ahead in year 2 and is the greatest lil gift you could give me. I promise it won’t take long!
So, thank you so much, again! From the bottom of my heart. Happy 1st birthday, Avenue Midwest!