10.17.2011

On the importance of being yourself

I've had this here blog for five years now — I started this as a recent high school grad-turned-nanny, and now I'm nearly a college grad and nanny. (Dear lord jesus, I'll be a college graduate in 7 months. WHAT.)

When I started the blog, I wrote because I wanted comments. I wanted validation. I tried so hard to be funny (even though I look back at some of those early entries and cringe now), and to be happy and positive. I wanted people to like me, to really like me, a la Sally Fields.

And I loved my blog and having my blog and having readers and feeling, occasionally, like people liked me! They really liked me!

But.

I hid an enormous part of my life from the blog because I was scared of judgement and losing readers. I kept my entire 2.5-year relationship with an amazing, amazing girl completely secret. I didn't write about it until after it was over, and not going to lie — that was one of the most nerve-wracking posts I put up. But in return, you all supported me, loved me, and validated me.

I think that post marked a turning point for my blog. I'd written some real emotion posts before that, but nothing on that scale. And this part of a comment on that post hit me in particular:

"Thank you for your sharing your experience so eloquently, and for bringing a human "face" to this issue! For the 1st time in my life, I feel like I am no longer along and fighting a losing battle on [human civil rights]."

Here's where I start to sound self-centered.

I realized, after that post, that I had a voice, and I had a platform. I have this blog, and yes I write it for the funny stories and for the memories, but I also write for me. I write to get love and support and encouragement from you guys. And over the past few years, I've gotten so many emails and tweets of love from people. And each time I'm shocked, humbled, and grateful.

I know how isolating and scary it can be to live in the throws of depression and anxiety. I know how monstrously difficult it is to battle eating disorders that try (no pun intended) to eat you up whole. But I'm only sharing my experiences. My eating disorders are radically different than someone else's. How depression and anxiety manifest in me are completely opposite of how they could manifest in someone else.

But I think the resounding message that I want to use my blog, my voice, for, is to say this:

All you out there, all you beautiful, wonderful people, all you happy, sad, scared, lonely, unique people, you are not alone. We all fight our own demons. But as long as I am here in this world, I promise you are not fighting them alone. I'm right here, fighting alongside you. All of you.

I'm fortunate enough to have amassed a good readership on my blog. I have no idea how I did that, I have no idea why I deserve that...but I'm grateful for it. And even though I still want to share the happy and the positive memories, I also want to share when things are really fucking hard. Because at times, it's really fucking hard. But thanks to you guys, I know I'm not alone in this thing called life. And neither are you.

You guys, I'm a 22-year-old student-nanny. I'm nothing special. I have depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. I feel completely crazy most of the time (thanks, eating disorders).

BUT.

I have found such inner peace by being able to be open about these things. It's hard to write posts that make me feel vulnerable and exposed, and I still don't have my real name attached to this blog...but you all have helped create this amazing community of support and I feel so, so lucky.

With that said...I know so many people who are going through such hard times right now. So I'm looking for stories from you guys. Stories of hope, stories of happiness, stories of overcoming demons and being completely honest about ourselves. Kind of an "it gets better" project for every part of life — sickness, mental illness, trying times — for ye olde (Online) Nanny Diaries.

Will you guys write something?

Be long-winded, be brief, be honest, be happy, be sad...but write something true to yourself, something you know. You can write anonymously or use your name/blog/etc. All I want from this project is for those who are struggling not to feel so alone. To feel some hope. Because we have to get through this thing called life together. That's how we get through.

If you want to write (please do!), you can email your stories to theonlinenanny@gmail.com. I'm happy to help you edit if you're unsure of what to say. Thank you.