I'll just come out and say it: A few years ago, I was fired for blogging. Crazy, right?
Well, I guess it's not really that crazy. But let's start from the beginning.
My freshman year in high school, I started a blog on LiveJournal. This was 2004, and at the brink of the MySpace era.
At first, I was just writing. I was an angsty teenager. I felt like was stuck in a small town, I felt like I couldn't relate to anyone, and I felt like I was smarter than the people around me.
(I know that sounds snobby and elitist, but it's how I felt. Ever since I started having conscious thoughts as a toddler, I felt like I knew what was going on around me, like I understood adults, like I was out of my own league. I was a very serious child and people constantly asked me what was wrong, but I was really just deep in thought all the time, deciphering conversations of the adults around me. I had a resting bitch face straight outta' the womb.)
Anyway, in retrospect, my LiveJournal was super whiney. You can check it out here. No, don't! Oh my god, this is so embarrassing, you guys. It was really emo. And I mean really emo. All pop-punk lyrics and woe-is-me-white-girl. But I developed a modest following after a little while, believe it or not.
What can I say? I guess I've always been a blogger!
Okay, so fast-forward almost a decade. I'm twenty-four and it's sort of the dawn of the blogging age. Beauty experts are blogging. Celebrities are blogging. "Social media influencers" are becoming a thing. And there's tumblr. Guys, now there's tumblr.
After drooling over the writing of some funny women and makeup bloggers who had lots of things to say on the Internet, I started to think maybe I should start my own blog.
So I did. I started a tumblr page that was initially called You Do The Math, named after comedian Chris D'Elia's drunk girls bit. The blog evolved a little bit and eventually I bought a real domain. Then it was sort of called Comedy Feminism Lipstick, but also still kind of running under the name You Do The Math. I don't know guys. I wasn't that fancy at this point.
The theme of my tumblr blog was a little bit creative writing, a little bit body positivity, a little bit self-deprecating, a little bit girly-girl, and a little bit country. Psyche! It wasn't country.
This blog also started to gain a significant following. I was getting messages from people thanking me for helping them through hard times, like this sweetie:
This made me feel really good and encouraged me to post almost every day for a while. I gained some confidence in my writing and submitted a couple posts to Thought Catalog. Holy moly, the first time I got something published, I just about shit my pants! The first post they used of mine was a satire called Fat Fall: 19 Ways to Gain 20 Pounds by Thanksgiving. They also published my piece 9 Fictional Power Couples I'd Like to Have Dinner With which did pretty well and is still one of my favorites.
I was gaining momentum! People were reading what I was saying and responding to it. Some were even checking my blog every day! It was fun. And it felt really good.
So then I submitted a few articles to The Financial Diet. They ended up publishing a piece of mine called How to Get Financially Fit in Your 20s, which sort of blew up and brought even more traffic to my tumblr.
I was feeling pretty fly, you guys. Things were great.
But about a month later, I got a phone call on a Saturday morning in January. "Theresa," my boss said in a more-stern-than-normal voice. "I read your blog." The rest of this conversation is a little fuzzy. My heart was beating really fast and my ears got hot. But what I remember is she told me that another employee had notified her of my blog. She had gotten around to reading it the night before and was utterly offended by the content. I remember that she also used the word "integrity" several times, as in, she believed that I didn't have very much of it. Then, surely reading something she had prepared, she told me, "You are hereby terminated from [The Company]" as well as something about how they would mail me my belongings. They mailed me my stuff! I didn't even get to let the door hit my ass.
Intense, huh? I immediately called my sister crying.
In my opinion, the reasons they got rid of me are that 1) it was a pretty corporate, cubicle-laden, mostly-male office environment and 2) it turns out I have a personality outside my polite work persona. My blog had cursing. It had sarcasm. It made fun of the millennial work force and ways in which I struggled with it. Surprise! I'm a real human with strong opinions and lots of jokes. And well, yes, I wrote about it on the Internet.
Unfortunately, I didn't get unemployment benefits because although I was initially told that I was being fired for the content of my blog, they checked my Internet history and hit me with a conduct violation for going on social media and browsing during work hours. They even presented a page from the employee handbook stating the policy which I had apparently violated. BUT, listen guys: I was a business major and I have an HR background. I've read the employee handbook for every single job I've ever had. Of course I checked to see if I was allowed to go on Facebook. And I swear they changed the handbook to support their case.
Let's just say having an unemployment judge go over your Internet history with a fine-toothed comb [over the phone] is a very humbling experience that I wish upon no one.
The whole thing was fucking brutal, but I got through it and I kept writing. I ended up getting a better job at a creative agency where my writing was celebrated and encouraged. Running a creative blog was actually a selling point on my resume. Can you believe it? I felt like I could really be myself.
The lesson here is that if something is on the Internet, you should assume that everyone in the world is reading it and write in such a way that if anyone in your life does read it, they won't hate you, dump you, or fire you.
Okay, but here's a funny segue: This new company I worked for had an annual retreat for employees. My first year at the retreat, I was walking all my stuff down to the tent area, and my boss (who, for context, was 32 at the time) was like, "Hey, Theresa. You do the math." This was obviously a reference to my blog, but I wasn't sure what he was getting at. Then a few more times throughout the weekend, he'd just slip "You do the math" into conversations where it totally didn't fit! Like, "Want some Cheez-Its? You do the math." So having been fired for blogging about 6 month prior, I got all paranoid and was like, What does he MEAN? Am I in trouble? Did he read something he didn't like? Fuuuuuuck! We laughed about this months later when I explained to him what had happened at my last job. He had read my blog, and was only teasing me at the retreat. He was always encouraging of my writing. And guess what? I became our office's very own Gossip Girl! No really, I'd write a satirical gossip column once a month and email it to everyone. It was awesome.
So anyway, now I have a new blog, the one you're currently reading, and I feel like I'm just meant to blog. I just have so. many. damn. ideas. If only there were time! Also, I could seriously waste all my days away looking through stock photos for my next post.
If I had a nickel for every time I animatedly told a story and someone went, “You should put that on your blog,” I’d have at least 15 bucks.
On the other hand, sometimes when I'm talking to people and telling them about something that happened to me or how I feel about a certain issue, I get self-conscious thinking they've already read it on my blog and it fucks with my storytelling.
I realize that blogging is often criticized for not being ~real~ writing and for having a very minimal editing process. I try my best to self-edit but always welcome ya’ll telling me when I have a typo. I mean, I had a typo on my wedding invites, which goes to show that you can read something 30 times and still miss something. WWBCD? (What would bride-chilla do?) She'd print out little stickers on address labels to cover the typo and move on with her life. That's what.
I always wanted to write about this, but never really felt like I could. Or that writing about it would have further repercussions. I also never thought I could write about my disordered eating in college, but the more time that passes, the easier these things get, and the less past mistakes and hiccups seem to matter.
Sometimes creating content is easy. Sometimes it's really fucking hard. Sometimes people don't like it. But after all, content is queen.