I’m titling this week’s blog post, “How I Got Here…” because that’s what I want to discuss, how this blog came to be, how my life led me to starting a blog for at least the third time, and why the heck anyone might want to bother reading what I have to say. I touched upon a few of my reasons for starting a blog in my first post, “All About Madison”, where I introduced myself and talked a little bit about who I am, but I only scratched the surface in that post. There is much more about me, who I am, and why I’m here.
As I mentioned previously, and much like a lot of other wanna-be-bloggers, the COVID-19 pandemic was the extra push I needed to get myself together and finally start writing, or, more likely, shouting into the void and hoping that this might help make me feel better, make others feel better, or maybe this is just some kind of therapeutic way back to some sort of routine or sense of normalcy.
Like so many other 22 year-olds across the country, I was a college student, a senior at Susquehanna University, before the pandemic. I was studying Theatre Performance and Creative Writing, living for myself, and attempting to better my prospects by receiving a degree in higher education. As the resident Patron Services Supervisor for my theatre department during my senior year, I was entrusted with a lot of responsibility and was seen as a leader among theatre students, especially those younger than me. I was the right hand of the department head, overseeing the operations of the Box Office, Front of House and Publicity.
While this is a great privilege and one I would not change at all, I was often overworked. I was still a student of course, with school work, and a lot of it because of my dual degree. I only say all of this to make the point that my college experience was certainly not all parties and pushing off work, quite the opposite. I took on every challenge and accepted almost every opportunity put in front of me, that’s just the kind of person I am. I sometimes struggle to say no because I know that every experience I have is a valuable one, and my schooling taught me how to time manage quickly, as well as the consequences of taking on too much. My college experience was all in hopes of being prepared to enter a competitive job market, and to build a quality resume that no theatre company could resist, a task which was to become all too real, all too quickly. I had no idea that my future would be arriving so abruptly.
On Thursday March 5th I packed up a weeks’ worth of belongings, eager to indulge in a much needed respite at my parents’ home, away from campus. My school’s spring break was starting Friday and my boyfriend, Nick, who had agreed to drop me off on his way home, wanted to get a head start. On the two and a half hour drive from campus to my home in Wayne, Nick and I talked about or grand plans of making the most of the last half of our final semester of college. “We need to get to the bar more often, plan to do stuff on our own, we are Seniors after all, and we should start acting like it,” I teased, though I was still partly serious. Nick, like me, is a workaholic, dedicated to getting good grades. We both would graduate Summa Cum Laude two months later, but would never again go out to the bars as Susquehanna students.
SU did what many other colleges did during that specific time of great uncertainty, first extending spring break a week and then begin making plans to move online, and eventually cancelling in-person classes for the remainder of the year. As a theatre student, I was seriously doubting being able to finish my education from a computer in my parents’ home in any kind of meaningful way; away from my acting partners, my professors, and most of all my stage. But I had to face the unfortunate reality of it all, something that took a lot of time, tissues and wine—
a task with which I still am working hard to come to terms. Shortly after the announcement from my school of online learning, my parents sat down my brother, sister, and I and told us that they had decided we were going to begin self-quarantining. We weren’t going to see anyone besides our family and the only reason we were going to leave the house was to get essentials, like grocery shopping and only once a week in order to limit our exposure to the rest of the world. This on top of losing my school year was a tough pill to swallow. I’m a social person and at school, Nick and I were living together and now we wouldn’t get to see each other at all. I would have to do a lot of adjusting to this ‘new normal’.
Through a lot of positive communication and of course, a few tears, Nick and I figured out how to continue making the time we spent together special even though we wouldn’t get to actually be together. We planned to work together on some school assignments simultaneously as we had on campus so we could ask the other for clarification or offer assistance when necessary. We attempted to keep our schedules as close to what we had established at school before quarantine, and honestly, making a daily schedule with attainable goals for getting work done really helped me stay sane for those two and a half long months of remaining online class. Nick and I made dates, scheduling times to FaceTime, or video chat, as well as perfecting the art of watching movies together from different locations. We still do this when date night means being in our perspective childhood bedrooms. There was a lot of compromising and adjusting to less comfortable, and less desirable situations but, we made it work just as we always have.
Once school began winding down and my weekly work load lessened, leading into finals, I began to have much more time on my hands— a phenomenon with which I have always been uncomfortable. I enjoy being busy and it helps me feel like I have purpose.
So now with less to do, I started looking for ways to fulfill myself creatively, a seemingly never-ending search. By the end of the first week I had finished my bullet journal monthly spreads for the rest of 2020, tore through every magazine we had in the house, cut out pieces to make four collages, and started a 30-day writing challenge and then I was at a loss for creative outlets.
Then I found an ad for article on Pinterest that peaked my interest. “How to start a new blog in 2020” by Taylor Stanford, a young blogger who decided to share her success story in hopes that others would find her experience helpful in starting their own blogs. I had attempted making blogs previously, a few times, and just never really followed up. I didn’t understand what I wanted to share with the world. I thought I had to have a singular “thing” to write about. I had never really looked at a successful blog which was doing what I wanted to do and followed that, I just tried and stopped and tried again and stopped…again. But Taylor’s blog gave me some hope.
As luck would have it, I had recently taken on another side project, creating a website to house my acting portfolio. I was just about finished (or so I thought) with the site, when I came across Taylor’s article. At that time, the site was, in essence, an overview of my theatre experience. Yes, it had my resume as well, but as it was created as a portfolio, the site was really theatre-heavy. The only pictures of me were ones in costume or with a headset, and while theatre is a huge part of my life, it’s certainly not my only passion. I knew I didn’t want my blog to be solely about theatre so, with the decision to start a blog as well as this newest epiphany I forged ahead, a little defeated, and reorganized, revamped and overhauled my website to be what you see today, more generally about me and my life rather than trying to fit myself into one box or ‘thing’.
After about 20 hours of work spread out over a week, my website was ready. My first blog post was written and posted and I was ready to hit the dreaded ‘PUBLISH’ button. I had Nick, and both of my parents give the site another once-over to help boost my confidence and with their assurance, I made the leap and just like that…I am officially a blogger.
I will admit that this, my second blog post, took me a while to get to. I got hung up on picking a publishing package for the website, picking a URL, and the finances of having a published website. I got discouraged and as a result, I was reluctant to get back to writing. I wrote a little bit, a paragraph here and there when I was feeling inspired, but largely I was not feeling like I could really do the dang thing but then, this afternoon I got a message from one of my college roommates asking if I could send her some of my writing. She was missing getting to read what I wrote. When we were living together she was my editor and confidence booster and my go to “does this sound right?” person. So to Grace I just want to say thank you, for giving me the extra push I needed to keep on keeping on with this blog and with my writing in general. You taught me that what you write is important, and that there will always be someone who needs to hear what you have to say.