I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about how to reach my readers. Yesterday I went through ALL of my old blog posts. I reviewed a little bit of every post I have ever written- even from back in the days when I was posting to Blogger. When I started writing I was writing more like journal entries. But I was sharing things that I thought would help other people if the right person happened upon it. At the time (almost 6 years ago, by the way) I had no idea what I was doing as a blogger. I didn’t know what it meant to be a blogger, and I wasn’t really trying to reach anybody. In the past two years I have taken a conscious effort to increase my readership and the quality of my posts. I have made (and deleted) side blogs, and eventually realized that everything is a part of me and belongs in one blog written and designed by me. For this post, as a thank you to my readers, I want to share some backstory about the things you probably already know about me from being an awesome follower.
- I started knitting as a way to relieve the stress and pressure in graduate school. I learned how to knit from my mom, and picked it up fairly quickly. Shortly after I learned, I started going to knitting/craft club at my friends’ house. This is a tradition we still continue every Thursday night and there is an understanding that other commitments at 7 pm Thursday should be avoided like the plague. What’s great is that we get to talk (stitch n bitch), but we also get to share what is going well, what is not going well, and we can ask for advice. I do not think I would have come nearly as far with my knitting if I had not found a community of people to knit with. Even though we won’t all be in graduate school forever (and in fact, two have graduated since I became a part of our group), it’s so wonderful to have good friends like this.
- My identity as a black, female, scientist is only part of who I am. All of the adjectives that I just used to describe myself are visible things about me. They are things that people see every single day and therefore I cannot avoid them as part of my identity. However, they do not show that I love knitting, they do not show that I love cooking and eating healthy. They do not show how hard I work out for however many minutes a day it is on a given day. They do not show me as a blogger. They do not show so many other parts of me, that even though they are on the surface, they are very superficial (pun about 75% intended). Being a minority- both black and female- means that I can never walk through life and be a part of this world and not think about how other people perceive me. I can never just be a scientist. I can never just be a knitting. I can never just be anything because there is still a stigma attached to me. I don’t work very hard to speak out and protest because it just isn’t my speed. What I do is try to make people see the other parts of me. I try to make the hidden qualities more visible, and I try to make sure that I am always kinder than necessary (thank you R. J. Palacio for making that the moral of Wonder) and that I always do any job or task well so that people remember me as a hard worker. I want to break the stereotypes through my everyday actions. So far, I don’t think I’m doing too bad.
- I never want to return to my home town. Sorry mom and dad- I would love for you and all of our extended family to follow me wherever I go, but I just do not want to go back. The fact of the matter is, I don’t have any truly happy memories there that don’t include my family. When I picture myself in five years, ten years, even 25 years, I cannot see happiness for myself in Milwaukee. About a year ago I read Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Although it is about poverty throughout America, the stories of the people he met and the majority of his research was done in Milwaukee. I hate to say it, but that is honestly how I picture that city when I am away. Even when I am driving around, I just see a run-down city with a long way to go if it ever wants to pick itself back up. I wouldn’t mind living near Milwaukee, there are plenty of smaller towns that I can definitely see myself living in. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I would see my family any more if I lived 45 minutes outside of Milwaukee or if I lived 4.5 hours outside of Milwaukee. (In fact, I currently live four hours away and I see my family very often, so I think this is promising).
- I like country music. If you know my personally this will come as no surprise to you. Therefore, I have decided to include a little anecdote as to how I got into country music. Like any good child of the 90s, I got into rap music. My dad hated that “boom boom” music and whenever I would start playing it in my room on my boom box (no relation) he would say, “baby girl why don’t you listen to some of that C&W music?” Well Daddy-dearest got his wish and let me tell you he is far more annoyed now than he was back then. Of course now that I am older, whenever he complains I just say “be careful what you wish for” and go back to singing. However, as I started listening to more country music I realized it was a lot dirtier than the rap I was listening to anyway. I don’t think this is true so much anymore with the new music coming out, but I definitely felt it back then. What I love (and what my boyfriend loves) is that I can rock out to rap and country with equal amounts of enthusiasm. I can sing along with any song as long as I like it and I have heard it about three times. I could never memorize lines of a play, but I can memorize a song without even trying. Go figure.
- I really have a passion for helping people. I would like nothing more in my life than to be able to touch another life every single day. I have a lot of things going on in my life, I have my PhD work, which I have carefully chosen to impact people indirectly, and I also have side hustles and volunteering. I donate money and I donate thoughts through my blog posts. The only downside to all of this is that there’s no real way for me to tell when I’m reaching somebody. The feedback in this realm is very limited and that makes it very difficult for me to go on sometimes. I know that I cannot let a lack of information stop me, after all, that’s what is going to keep me in a job once I become a professor! However, it is very hard to show up everyday and do what I love if my WHY isn’t validated. If you made it this far, I just want to say thank you. I want to thank you for caring enough about me to read this entire post. I want to say thank you for visiting my blog, and I sincerely hope that you come back. I want you to know that I care about you, whether I know you personally or not. I want you to feel free to like, comment, or contact me with feedback and ideas. Together we can ___________. That blank is totally up to you.