Unboxing Challenge — Day 5: Readers

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A LOT of my blogging in Shanghai happened in that building with the pointy roof; it had a Starbucks with WAY better internet than my hostel across the alley.

Back in 2011, various people were telling me that aspiring writers need an online presence and that Tumblr was the way to go. I started off just posting inspirational quotes or other reblogs, with the occasional story about my own experiences from the very incipient stages of my transnational quarterlife crisis. I was hoping to do a lot more traveling over the coming years, so I guess I figured I’d build towards something like a travel blog. Instead, the first bit of enthusiastic feedback I got came when I posted about my sex life. I had gone WAY out on a limb on that one, baring far more of my private self than I ever had before, and this realness, this laying-bare of my emotional process, had really struck a chord with someone.

My blog sort of continued in this vein for a while — inspirational quotes, reblogs, and now also raw emotional process! — until I started adding some of my own musings on spirituality to the mix. Stories about, for example, synchronicity. And then, the MAJOR turning point: I shared some of my thoughts one day about twin flames.

Maybe you haven’t heard of twin flames. I hadn’t heard of them either until I was 26. But for whatever reason, I was particularly inspired about sharing some twin flame thoughts one evening from Shanghai, and suddenly, much to my surprise, I started getting lots of questions about them. In fact, the more I answered, the more I received, and before I even knew what happened, my blog had morphed into a place where people were coming for New Age-inspired self-help and relationship advice.

I loved receiving these questions; they inspired me to think even more deeply about my own beliefs. I also loved feeling “useful;” my move to Shanghai had not resulted in the career stability I had hoped for, and having so much idle time had started to make me feel “useless” to society. Having this opportunity to share love and light like this on Tumblr, though, I felt like my “free time” and my writing itself had maybe some little bit of “meaning.” This was also a huge help in developing my voice; while finding my voice is still a work in progress, the countless hours I spent composing conversational answers to amazingly thoughtful messages from readers certainly helped. And in the process, I encountered so many amazing people whose stories, whose depth, and whose loving hearts inspired me too.

Unfortunately, at certain points, I became too busy or too stressed to keep up with the blog. Sometimes, I even let those stresses lead me to question whether I was meant to be writing at all. But just when I had come through one of those self-doubting periods and was debating whether I was ready to put some of those fears behind me to start writing again, a few long-time readers reached out to me through my looooooong absence and told me that they missed my posts.

I was blown away; I’d dropped off for nearly a year, and they still remembered me.

I felt so humbled and so thankful. They were a big part of why I decided to step back into blogging again.

… and at THIS Starbucks, which also had internet and was open far later!

Truth be told, I had never stopped writing “in public” altogether; my soul sought its outlet wherever it could, so when I withdrew from one outlet (Tumblr), it used another: namely, Facebook. I had spent my blogging “hiatus” posting a lot of my reflections there, posts of the style I might have otherwise written on Tumblr back in the day. This, too, was helpful because even in this forum, around people who actually knew me in real life — in other words, a forum wherein the “stakes” felt higher — were routinely commenting or messaging me to tell me that they felt touched by what I had shared or looked forward to what I wrote. That is, as I bared more and more of my weird and wacky thoughts, I was finding even more encouragement. Honestly not something I expected.

Through all of this — the feedback on from loved ones and from strangers, in private and in public — I’ve glimpsed what I’m “about” as a writer. There’s a lot of emotional honesty, and I’ve been told I have a rare blend of “old soul” vibe and childlike joie de vivre. I used to think I’d be a travel writer, or maybe I’d write journalism-type stuff, or maybe even screenplays (which I still think might be cool). But what my soul is driven to write is memoir. To share the poetry and the meaning in real life. To lay bare the wondrous and mystical in the mundane. In a voice sometimes comical, and sometimes otherworldly. And somehow, much to my amazement, this is what people really respond to when I open up my voice.

I used to think I needed to fit in a “box” as a writer and find a “normal” niche. But my readers helped me understand that maybe I wasn’t meant to write “normal” stuff. Maybe I’m meant to write about cosmic magic, cosmic love, the soul.

… and isn’t that actually really AWESOME?

I’ve never been published for pay (— yet 😉 ). I’m “small potatoes” and frequently beset by “I will never be that good!” when I read something that wows me. I’m still finding my voice, and the process is awkward. I’m also still trying to figure out how to “adult,” cover all my expenses, and that tends to involve a lot of hours not writing. What’s more, I find that I need to spend a lot of my “free” time just recovering from the stress of that grind, unable to drum up the energy that my own inspiration deserves. (Not to mention that my eyes need a computer break after all that freelance work!)

But what my readers, anywhere, have given me is something invaluable: a glimpse at what I’m “meant” to do. Some incentive to keep returning to this love. And the courage to dare to believe that my writing, this strange and mercurial passion of mine, has value and can help make a difference in the world.

… and, of course, there was also a lot of blogging that happened here, in the mornings, right on this patio. My favorite Shanghai home.

Who in your life has helped you connect with a sense of meaning, purpose, or destiny? Who are the people that make it possible for you to share your gifts and do what you do?

Want to try the Unboxing Challenge? Read about it here and here, or follow lalabelle.rose on IG.

Laura
Laura left a Ph.D. program at age 26 to make good on long-forgotten dreams of nomad'ing and writing. She currently lives in Berlin and writes about the magic of everyday life — most especially, the magic we find when we open our hearts and choose to follow them.

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