Exactly six years ago I started a blog. My goal was to write for 30 days. Here I am 72 months later-- still writing, picture taking, blogging. If I were to write a letter to myself in 2010, when I first started, here's what I would write...
Expect the unpredictable. You love plans and schedules and calendars. Most of the time that serves you well. But some of the best moments of life will sneak up on you. You will go places and see things that you've never even heard of yet. You've yet to meet many of your best friends. They're going to be awesome.
Invest in people. It's called Lives Overlap because you love the idea that our life path overlaps with the people around us--sometimes accidentally, sometimes because they have to and hopefully most of the time because we're being intentional about it. With over 100 friends in this year's post it's clear that friendships and relationships are your greatest investment. Money runs out, stuff gets old, but connections with people are worth the most. It's not even a contest.
Age doesn't define friendship. Growing up you were with the same group of kids every year, in every class in Delphi. Then you went to Hope and were surrounded by a community of people that were all 18-22 years old. But now you're in the real world you no longer have that safety bubble of built in friends who are the same age as you. You will quickly learn, and embrace, that friendship doesn't have to be defined by age or stage of life. Some of your favorite people and dearest friends will be 10 years younger than you. Others will be 10 or 20 years older. You'll hang out with High School kids, moms, co-workers and counselors whose lives look very different than your own on a daily basis. But living life with people who aren't the same as you will be an incredible blessing.
This will take time. Publishing a blog will be an incredible test of your persistence and follow through. You'll hear Shauna Niequist say, "Being a writer is like having homework every single day for the rest of your life." The process of uploading and editing pictures will take time. Writing will take time. Editing will take time. You'll come up with different routines to make it happen-- but you will make it happen. Gretchen Rubin says, "The things you do every day take on a certain beauty, and provide a kind of invisible architecture to daily life." This bloggity blog can't be a whenever-I-feel-like-it kind of thing. It will take time to write every day, you will stay up a little later (especially in the summer), but that consistency will make it stick.
Make your words count. Taylor Swift (who just released Speak Now in 2010 and will blow your mind in the next six years) said in an interview, "That's just part of my life now. I think it's my responsibility to know that I'm a role model, and to be conscious of it. Every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation. So make your words count." You're not on Taylor Swift's level, but the blog will give you an audience. What you write matters. Be positive. Choose to only write kind things. Point people to Christ. Write about stuff that matters. Your words will make an impact.
Celebrating will become a hobby. You will learn that every day is worthy of being a special occasion. No Pants Wednesday with your roommates, Side Pony Braid Friday with 7th graders, National FBC Day once a year, birthday extravaganzas, Tour de Fry, adventures on a regular Tuesday, Camp Tecumseh XC. Some people might think all the celebrating is silly, but the vast majority of people will want to join the party. Needing something to write every single day will make you be intentional about living a life with a story. You will still love Netflix-- but you will love playing, creating, exploring and adventuring even more.
There will be readers. For the first 30 days of the blog you'll keep it a secret. You're not sure if you'll like this project or if it'll last for long. But then you'll keep writing and slowly people will discover it. At the Storyline Conference you'll hear Glennon Doyle Melton and Shauna Niequist say, "You grow your platform by serving the people you already have. Show up every day. Content wins over time. Always do it your right way. What's authentic to you? I don't need this to be huge. I just need to keep earning the right to be heard over and over. Great content over time." I write about what I know: being a counselor, being a Young Life leader, friendship bracelets and pizza and Taylor Swift and crafting, being a teacher, taking adventures. Some readers who like reading about those things have stuck with me, others have moved on. That's ok. You'll know that some people read it every single day and once in awhile you'll hear from a total stranger that tells you they read Overlap. You don't have to become a world famous writer, this isn't about that. Just do your thing with great love right now.
Take opportunities. Say yes to the good stuff. There will always be work and meetings-- but make sure you're making time for the things that will shape your life. Always ride in the bajaj. Road trip to CO or WI to surprise a friend. Send hand written letters. Go to the concert. Make time to hear your favorite author speak. Go on a bike ride. Hunt down the Ice Tree. Cheer from the stands. Volunteer for something you believe in. You will never look back and say, "I wish I had done less fun stuff." You are the person who gets to create your life. Make it one you really love.
p.s. The last six years are insanely well documented and my pictures show up with just about any google search (which is incredibly convenient). I've learned a lot over the years and looking back I can see how I've grown as well as all the friends whose lives I overlap with. Check out the blogiversary posts of year one, two, three, four, or five. (I wonder how many friends have been pictured in all 6 of these posts...)