I choose to make mistakes—and get over it.

 Important PSA: Mom, please relax. this is a stock photo. I did not tattoo my arm.

Important PSA: Mom, please relax. this is a stock photo. I did not tattoo my arm.

Once upon a time, I used to love blogging.

It’s true. I had a blog called Serve at Once (it was a Blogspot blog—remember Blogspot?).

Oh my gosh, you guys, I loved it so much.

I started it for my Autobiography class. The way other people wrote their own stories—and the idea that I could write my own—lit my brain on fire. It was like an Oprah episode written in long form, a deep dive into the personal self, and I was all. about. it.

I thought I’d include food in my blog, too. I have always loved food. It’s been a huge part of my life, the way I make memories and share my love with other people and bond with them. I watched both of my grandmothers in the kitchen, my mom, especially my dad, who seemed to take such joy from tinkering with recipes. 

I cooked in our dorm kitchen, I staged photos using the negligible food props we had in our apartment my senior year. I’d take photos with my point-and-shoot digital camera, using natural light however meager it was in the winter. 

I commented on other blogs. People commented on mine. We gave each other cheesy awards and badges because that’s what people did back in 2010.

It was so much fun.

Then I graduated. And slowly but surely, the desire to share my voice with the world drained out of me.

I got an internship at a publishing house, which was the fulfillment of my English major dreams (you can read how happy I was about that—seven years later, I still can’t believe it).

All of a sudden, I was surrounded by hundreds of professional writers and worker bees, the paragons of taste, the people who decided what everyone else was going to be reading and talking about around the world in the fall. 

And I became afraid. 

Of commitment.

Of disappointing people.

Of disappointing myself for my lack of talent.

It was Imposter Syndrome on steroids, because I was a 22-year-old college graduate floundering around a publishing house as a lowly intern, getting minimum wage and scraping by on the generosity of my brother, who—God bless him forever and ever—paid my rent the first seven months after I graduated, until I landed a full-time job at the same publishing house.

For the first time in my life, I shut up. I watched. Because I wanted so badly to learn. And I was terrified to do anything that wasn’t perfect because I just knew they were going to kick me out of publishing for my lack of talent.

And I couldn’t face that kind of rejection at work and at home, so I just . . . quit writing.

I drifted into a depression that hovered over me for the next three years. It stifled any light creative energy I once had. I watched Buffy reruns and ate boatloads Mexican takeout, trying to drown any memory of my work day in a vat of salsa and pretend like I knew what I was doing with some part of my life.

It was a dark time.

After a couple of years, “new normal” transitioned to “normal” and things didn’t seem so big and scary. I found out I could hang with the big boys—they didn't kick me out, at least. I discovered it felt really good being in command of my own life.

I decided if I could make beautiful loaves of French bread at home, I could probably make something a bit healthier. Forty lost pounds later, I'm eating like the health nut I never thought I could be, roasting vegetables in ghee and inhaling avocados like I'm a Hass lobbyist.

I've changed jobs. I've started by own business. Despite all appearances, I still don't know what I'm doing and I've come to terms with the fact that I probably never will.

And thankfully, I know what it means to be afraid and still do the thing anyway.

Here’s the thing: eight years ago, I was afraid. I am still afraid today.  I’ll still be afraid eight years down the road.

But eight years from now, I think I regret if I haven’t written some of this down for me to remember. 

Eight years from now, I’ll go back to this post and make fun of myself, about my awful writing style or the dumb things I said or how crappy the images were. 

But I will be proud of the girl who put herself out there, who said to the world, “I have things to say, and here they are.” Who did that, knowing there are trolls and mean people and nice people who freely express their opinions, sometimes really aggressively—and still put herself out there anyway.

Because right now, as I look back at the 21-year-old girl who started her blog, who took natural light photography with her point-and-shoot digital camera, who had zero filters on her photos and had to edit them manually, who poured her heart into her corner of the internet: 

I am so proud of her.

Truly. Like I am her mother. 

(Is that possible? Can you be that proud of your younger self that way? I think so. I just have so much sympathy for her, and now I understand her better than she does. )

That 21-year-old girl had no idea what branding was. She had no idea how to code or get a pretty website without paying a million dollars (because $2000 as a college student feels like a million dollars when the biggest paycheck you’ve ever earned is $450 after working two weeks standing on your feet and serving customers at an ice cream shop). She didn’t even have a Twitter handle. Facebook was just for sharing pictures with friends, nobody was having babies yet. Instagram and Pinterest hadn’t been invented. She had a pink Razr flip phone.

Holy crap, I am so proud of her.

So why can I give her so much grace, and I can’t seem to extend the same courtesy to myself right now? 

I am the same person. Sort of.  I guess I feel like I should have my stuff more together? I should know better by now? Present Me should be able to handle herself and know how to do everything, because she’s lived a little life and she’s almost (*whisper* thirty) and if something happened to her, they would call her a “woman” on the news and that still feels weird.

I don’t think she knew how good everybody else was doing stuff. Maybe she did know, she just didn’t care. I was her, but I can’t remember every detail of her then.

You know what I think it is?

I saw how the sausage was made.

And somewhere in my brain, I decided that the only art that deserved to see the light of day was something that was combed over and over again for twelve to eighteen months, possibly even more.

You know who told me that? Me.

No one in the publishing house ever said anything like that to me.

It was all me. I subconsciously decided I wasn’t worthy to produce something for people to read unless I had labored over it for a gazillion years.

Obviously, I didn’t always feel this way. I kind of like the things I used to write (but Young Amy, why did you have to use so many words? and so many big ones!?). 

Anyway. I say all of that to declare . . .

Hi. I’m Amy.

I used to write down stuff I was thinking on the internet then kept it to myself for seven years, and here I am again, with baggage real and imagined. And I’m going to screw this up once or twice, but that’s okay.

Because like Stuart Smalley used to say:

Oh, Al Franken. Why did you have to go and do bad things after this?