Eeking some magic out of a milestone

by Kristin on January 15, 2009

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by John Spooner

Do you remember when you were, oh, maybe 12 or 14, and you honestly thought you’d be a true grown up when you were 19?

And then how at 19 you thought you’d be a bona fide adult when you were 25?

But then, at 25, maybe you felt annoyed when you were carded at a bar, and when it seemed like you weren’t taken seriously by the man at the car dealership, or by a senior colleague at the office.

Often, when we finally reach those benchmarks we’ve been anticipating, we find they’re nothing like we imagined.

When it comes to getting older, we’re not nearly as wise and balanced as we thought we’d be by a certain age—in many ways we still feel like our teenage selves, just in more tired bodies, and with some surprise grey hair.

When it comes to fitness, we might be able to run the distance we set as our original goal, but our bodies don’t look and feel like we imagined they would by then. And when we finally get a job with the salary we used to dream of, we still feel more financially strapped and stressed than we thought we would.

The magic number, minus the magic

This is my 100th published post here on Halfway to Normal. Almost exactly six months ago, when I resuscitated my blog after a several-month hiatus, I wrote my 32nd post. I didn’t know where this adventure would take me, I only knew I had stories to tell, so I had to give it a try and find out.

At that point, if I had paused to think ahead to my 100th post (which I didn’t, but I can pretend), I would have been in awe at the thought of it. I would inevitably know so much about blogging by then.

By post 100, the whole process would be natural and seamless, right? I’d simply sit down four times a week to write my little observations and tell my little stories. I’d write quickly and efficiently, of course, baring my soul without a second thought, then clicking the “publish” button to send my thoughts out into the world.

Here’s the reality (you can guess where this is going, I bet): Even though I have learned a lot about blogging and the so-called blogesphere—I’m not nearly as lost as I was—I still feel very much like a toddler. Maybe the more accurate analogy is that I feel like a teenager in a very foreign culture. Set loose with just a rudimentary language phrase book, no map and some spare change.

At post 100, I still don’t have a blog roll published, to share with the rest of you links to the blogs I like to read. I still can’t figure out how to get the header next to my rss feed button (the orange one that lets you subscribe to my blog) to work like it should. Which reminds me, I have no idea how to find out how many people have even subscribed to my blog, if they were determined enough to find the right button in the first place.

So I’m not tech savvy. But even when it comes to the actual writing, I’m still brimming with self-doubt every time I hit “publish” on a post that I think might be too sentimental, too “religious,” too vulnerable, or simply too something. And I still put far too much weight on reader comments and statistics, as I try to figure out what people like and don’t like.

In other words, I thought I’d be at a very different place by the time I reached this moment.

Celebrate, even if the occasion isn’t quite what you imagined

I also thought I’d be all excited to do something fun and celebratory, like a big birthday bash, or a giveaway. (I guess other bloggers sometimes do these sorts of things when they hit this landmark.) I remember reading the Happy 100 post at Writer Dad, a blog I really like. He posted a picture of balloons and asked people to leave comments sharing what they like about his blog, or what they think he could do better. I thought it was a great idea and even told him I might copy him when my big day came.

Now that I’m here, it’s really tempting to just let the moment pass by without mention or fanfare, like someone who doesn’t tell anyone its his 40th birthday.

But then, I realized that would be a bit like turning 21 and buying a bottle of wine to drink all alone. Even if 21 isn’t all that you imagined it might be, it’s still a milestone. There are still people around you, who care about you and feel like the moment is worth celebrating.

And there’s lots to celebrate. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this moment, for me, involves thinking about all of you—the readers who one way or another found Halfway to Normal and continued coming back.

Even though I recently wrote a post about how numbers don’t always mean that much, reaching this 100-post mark made me curious to see how many people have left comments on my blog in the past six months. Eight-eight different people. Eighty-eight! And only one of them is my mom (although she is, probably, my biggest fan). Most of those 88 people have commented more than once, gradually becoming a part of my community, even if I’ve never met them in person.

So you are the people I’m going to have this little celebration with, however humble it might be. It’s important to mark occasions with others. It makes us more deliberate about looking back at where we were, and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Marking a milestone, much like the start of a new year, also gets us looking ahead to what’s next. And just today, “what’s next” for Halfway to Normal pretty much knocked on my virtual door, in the form of a talented blog designer with lots of skills and good ideas. Essentially, I’m going to mark this milestone by getting myself a present.

I can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate, and I can’t wait for you to be able to enjoy the results with me.

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  • http://writerdad.com Writer Dad

    HAPPY 100!!!!

    Don’t worry, we’re all still toddlers at this blogging thing. John Chow, Darren Rowse, etc. – they’re just kindergartners. : > )

    It is a milestone and there’s no reason you should swig from the bottle alone. Happy 100 and happy Friday!

  • http://jodyrae4msu@yahoo.com Jody Wells

    Congrats! Happy 100! I very much look forward to the next 100-keep up the good work!

  • http://psychmamma.wordpress.com PsychMamma

    Happy Bloggiversary!! from a frequent “lurker.” Here’s a present:

    You have an award waiting for you at:

    http://psychmamma.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/and-the-award-goes-to/

    {wink}

  • http://rambleramble.com/ Ginger

    Happy 100! I lurk constantly, but wanted to come out to say hi for your anniversary!

  • Jason

    Wonderful post, it reminded me of a T.S. Eliot quote: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” I love the quote and your post because they recognize what we fear but do not say, which is that we are who we are no matter what we accomplish, no matter how high we go, what titles we wear, who we know, or what we own. Its not always about the goal, but the journey matters, we will return time and again to the same themes, same challenges, but as a changed person, hopefully for the better.

  • http://me-unplugged.com stef

    happy 100th! :)

    i’ll be honest, i have no friggin’ idea how i found your blog. i’m guessing that it was from a link on someone else’s blog, and then i read a few entries and liked what i read. most likely it was a combination of factors; the story of your house (which gave me chills, i’ll admit), your faith, and the fact that you aren’t all “puh-RAISE jeezus!” and talking about god all the time. from a born again christian-turned-agnostic, i can appreciate the need for personal spirituality, but i don’t like it shoved in my face.

    plus, you always come across as very real, or genuine, in your writing. which is probably the main reason why i subscribed in the first place. :)

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Writer Dad, thanks for swigging out of the wine bottle with me (or wait, do we have glasses now that it’s a real party?). It’s funny to think of the “big” bloggers as kindergartners. It makes me think of how my 3rd grade daughter said the other day that being in chorus at school (only for 3rd-5th graders) makes her feel little, not big, because the 5th graders seem SO big. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    Jody, thanks for being a regular reader and supporter these past few months. It’s so great to know that someone I played with almost every day when I was 8 knows all of my deepest thoughts 30 years later.

    PsychMamma and Ginger, I love knowing I have lurkers (especially because knowing that means you’re not lurkers any more). What a great bloggiversary gift! (And extra thanks for the link love, PsychMamma.)

    Jason, I know you’re a true fan, but you’re also my husband, and I wanted everyone to know what an amazing, constant support you are of this blog. You’re always interested in knowing what I’m working on, always willing to let me think out loud with you (or at least you’re good at faking it), and I trust your opinion and feedback more than anyone else’s. The T.S. Eliot quote is a great one to bring into the conversation, too. Thanks for everything.

  • http://www.poverty101.net T Edwards

    Congratulations on hitting 100. I just returned to writing after a several month hiatus as well. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I hope I can stay motivated to hit the 100 posts mark.

    I can’t wait ’till you hit 200!

    T

  • Anne

    LOVING your blog and thought it was time I let you know! So, just thought I would say “hello” from one freelancing mamma to another.

    Some days seem so strange trying to work creatively (graphic design) alone in my house or at the coffee shop – but taking a quick break to read your latest post is the perfect boost. And nice to know I’m not workin’ alone…

    Your writing style is exactly the kind I love to read – funny, witty, intelligent, insightful… and always leaves me thinking and I like that!

    Happy #100 and thanks!

  • Elaine Tolsma-Harlow

    100?? You don’t look a day over 30! It has been a blessing rediscovering you!

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Stef, your comment made me happy on several levels. First of all, it made me laugh. It’s also very genuine and makes me feel like I’ve “met” you, which is what I’d really love to have happen with all of my readers. It’s SO good to know that what I’ve set out to do with this blog is actually translating—even to people who have never met me.

    T Edwards, I’m glad you’re writing again. It feels good, doesn’t it? I’ll definitely have to check out your site. Thanks for taking the time to congratulate me!

    Anne, I can completely relate to the challenge of working “creatively alone,” as you so aptly put it. Now I can think of you as a freelancing mamma colleague! Also, I couldn’t be more pleased that you chose the four adjectives you did to describe my writing.

    Elaine, it is a blessing knowing you’re out there, and thinking of you as part of my community again. Thank you.

  • http://www.bakelikeaninja.com Kathlyn

    Hi Kristen – I enjoyed your 100th! I especially liked this thought:

    Maybe the more accurate analogy is that I feel like a teenager in a very foreign culture. Set loose with just a rudimentary language phrase book, no map and some spare change.

    I know it’s supposed to underscore the dazed and confused feeling of doing something new, but I liked the idea that even though navigating this world can be disorienting and even scary, it’s an adventure, like traveling. Thanks for the fresh perspective!

    And happy belated 100th!!

    Cheers.

  • http://thedailyburns.com Jenn B

    nice! happy 100th! i just turned 30 a few days ago, and i agree…much less mystical than i was expecting. ;)

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Kathlyn, I love your extension of my metaphor. It’s perfect, and I hadn’t thought to take it further like that. Not knowing everything or knowing what’s next does indeed make life (and blogging) more of an adventure. Thanks for your perspective!

    Jenn, I’m glad you can relate! Thanks for reading and commenting.