I recently spent hours trying to renew my domain name. I’d gotten several emails about it. I kept thinking, “Oh yeah, I need to take care of that,” and then I’d completely forget about it. I had six days before it expired. I mean, my domain is my actual name. I probably could have gotten it back pretty easily if it had lapsed but wouldn’t it have sucked if I lost it? So I set a reminder on my phone, which is really the only way anything gets done around here. I figured it would just take a few minutes.
Online forms often do not like APOs (army addresses overseas). Many websites reject them as valid or simply don’t make it an option. This website was taking umbrage with my APO address. I got frustrated enough that I did a live chat asking for assistance. But no one ever knows what an APO is and this person clearly was not a native English speaker and kept asking oddly worded questions that were completely unhelpful. For some reason, the seventh time I entered in all the information, it finally accepted it. I was able to update my address, my billing address, my contact address, my everything address and renew my domain name.
I own EmilyEchols.com for the next five years.
It was a relief but then a wave of doubt hit me.
I own EmilyEchols.com but what the hell am I doing with it? Why? What’s the point? What should I be doing with it? How do I make it matter? And that, my friends, is precisely why I haven’t been updating my blog.
Why does it matter?
I don’t have a good answer.
Everything I’ve been saying is kind of circling around and around. I’m repeating myself over and over. Believe in yourself! Do what matters to you! You can do it! And it just feels hollow.
I’m tired and disenchanted with writing. It feels sort of pointless. It’s just more work I’m doing that no one is noticing. So why bust my butt to get a blog post out every Tuesday by a certain time? Why? What am I doing this for?
I guess I’m not sure what this is supposed to be or what I want it to be. I think it depends on what I’m writing, whether I’m pursuing the memoir or one of the novels. If it’s the memoir then this blog is about selling me and I already feel sweaty and icky. If it’s not about that, I’m not sure what it is about. But I do like some of things I’ve written. The blog post about deployment still feels true and good. I basically aim for true and good. After a few of my recent posts people have sent me messages saying, “I feel this way too.”
In seminary a friend of mine confided that she was struggling with a particular class. She was working really hard, spending a lot of time studying, and still making a bad grade. I said, “Oh, I know. Me too. That class takes up the majority of my study time. It’s super hard. I think everyone is struggling.”
She nearly yelled when she said, “But you don’t look like you’re struggling! No one else talks about struggling. Why didn’t anybody say anything? I thought I was the only one.”
Another time, a friend was saying she’d done everything possible to comfort her crying baby and eventually just laid on the floor of the nursery crying while her baby wailed. A group of us said, “That’s totally normal. Everyone does that a few times.” At first she didn’t believe us. “What? I’m not crazy? I’m not the worst mom ever?”
“Nope. It’s totally normal and okay to feel that way. But if you feel that way all the time, tell us, and we can help out.” She started crying again. We surrounded her in a circle of hugs.
Is there anything as lonely as feeling like you’re the only one?
That’s why I try to talk about it.
I’ve spent the majority of my life feeling alone and weird. There’s an amazing connection when you meet someone new and they divulge some weird thing they do that you do too. Suddenly, you’re no longer the weirdest person alive. There are other people like you in the world. You’re not alone.
That’s basically what this blog has become. It’s less me shouting random thoughts into the void. Now I’m standing on a stool in my kitchen, raising my hand, saying, “I do this weird thing. Do you do it too? It would have helped me if someone had told me this sooner.”
We’re all struggling.
Sometimes babies just cry.
Sometimes we all don’t think we’re good enough.
Blogs are supposed to have a focus, a niche. It should have a title and a catchphrase that tells you what it’s about. You are not alone. You are not the only one. You’re not alone and weird.
Feeling alone causes us to make bad choices. We make incorrect assumptions about ourselves, about who we are, about what we can do. Often people in bad situations will isolate themselves. We don’t want our messy lives to stress out other people. Maybe we don’t have words for how we’re feeling or we don’t know how to explain what’s happening. We might be ashamed of our own behavior. It may be too hard to admit that we need help. I have to be half dead before I’ll ask for help and I’m often defensive when people offer. Do I LOOK like a person who needs help?!
So the goal is to not feel alone. One of the ways we can do this is by sharing our stuff with each other. You don’t have to share it with everyone but you need to find your person who helps you feel less alone and weird and you need to really tell them what’s going on with you. I mean, beyond the cute stuff you post on Facebook. That last deployment? I was an open wound but I went on exclusively posting cute pictures of my kids. The biggest reason I wasn’t honest was because I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want encouragement. I just wanted someone to tell me they understood. I just didn’t want to feel alone.
So I’m trying to create a space where people don’t feel alone, a place where you know you’re not the only one. This is a space where I’m roller skating in the parking garage late at night because sometimes I struggle with being a mom and a whole person at the same time and roller derby feels like one of the ways that I can be both. And maybe you’ll read that and instead of talking about what a blessing your six kids are you’ll say, “Me too. I feel that way sometimes, too.”
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t let your domain name lapse just because you don’t know exactly what you’re doing with it. Maybe it’s enough to let someone know they’re not the only one, that you see them. And someday that baby will sleep and someday that spouse will return from deployment and someday you’ll make friends. But for now, I can sit with you here.