Four Years of Fun and Feelings

Today, Nerdy Girl Notes turns four years old. In my first post on this site, I wrote a sentence that I still believe with every fiber of my being:

I can’t imagine a better, more fulfilling life than the life of a nerdy girl.

A lot of things can change in four years. And a lot of things have changed over the last four years—not just for NGN as a site but for me as a person. But my goal from the start has always been to keep NGN moving forward, and I’d like to think I’ve done that—moving forward in the process of becoming not just a better writer but a better version of myself through running this site.

When I look back on some of my oldest NGN posts, I’m struck by how much distance I kept between myself and what I was writing about. I was afraid to get too personal—and the secret is, sometimes I still am. It’s scary to be vulnerable, it’s scary to talk about how much something means to you, and it’s scary to talk about yourself through a medium that makes that writing available to anyone who wants to read it and comment on it. In my quest to be as open as I can be in my writing, I’ve discovered that emotional honesty is a double-edged sword. It allows you to form genuine connections with people through your writing, but it also allows people who don’t like a particular thing you’ve written or an opinion you’ve shared to believe they can judge you as a person because of it. There have been plenty of occasions—this year perhaps more than any other—where it’s felt easier to just hide behind a more impersonal approach to writing or to just stop writing altogether. Because writing with honesty and vulnerability is hard.

But to quote one of my favorite movies, A League of Their Own: “It’s supposed to be hard…The hard is what makes it great.” And it is great. And part of the reason it’s so great is because it’s scary. Running this site and sharing my writing with all of you has made me feel braver than I could ever have hoped to feel. And this year I’ve felt braver than ever before.

A year ago, I wrote a post to celebrate NGN’s birthday, and I was already formulating plans in my head (and with Heather) to tell all of you about the idea that would become The Fan Mail Project. Today, I’m writing this post with a folder on my computer filled with 70+ letters from people around the world who’ve trusted me with the stories of their personal connections to female characters. In writing my own letters for this book and in reading all of yours, I’ve learned that it takes incredible courage to stand in your truth and share that truth with others. I’ve also learned that when you write with your walls down and your heart open, you have more room to let people in, and those people will stand beside you as you find the courage to share your truth.

NGN is different than it was when I first started it, and that’s because I’m different. Its posts are less academic and critical in nature and more personal. And I hope that people who visit this site see that change as something that’s made NGN stronger, because I certainly feel stronger than I was four years ago.

If I feel stronger now, it’s because my support system is also stronger. As Leslie Knope said, “No one achieves anything alone.” And that’s certainly true for NGN. This site isn’t just a reflection of me. It’s a reflection of every brave and beautiful contributing writer who’s ever posted here. It’s a reflection of every warm, welcoming, and wonderful commenter who’s ever graced an NGN comments section. It’s a reflection of every supportive person who’s ever spread the word about this site or shared a kind thought with me on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or any other form of social media. And it’s a reflection of the unbreakable bonds of friendship that have been forged or strengthened through our little NGN Family. I am honored to call so many of you my friends, and I hope you know that NGN exists as it does today because of you. On days when writing the way I do feels hard, you make me stronger and braver than I ever could have been without you.

This has been an exciting year of big steps forward at NGN, and I can’t wait to see what the next year holds. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or are just visiting the site for the first time today, thanks for coming along for the ride!

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10 thoughts on “Four Years of Fun and Feelings

  1. Happy blogversery!

    I’m so glad you decided to create this space for your writing. I’m glad that you’ve kept at it when it gets hard or when you wonder why you decided this was a good idea. (It is a good idea. So, tuck that away and repeat to yourself in a loud voice when necessary.) I’m glad that you’ve let the rest of us come along for the ride, the fun, the occasional angst, and Doctoberfest mug references. (Yes, I do like working those in whenever possible . . . )

    I leave you with Garrison Keillor:

    “The more you write, the easier it gets, and when you have a True True Friend to write to, a compadre, a soul sibling, then it’s like driving a car down a country road, you just get behind the keyboard and press on the gas.

    Don’t tear up the page and start over when you write a bad line– try to write your way out of it. Make mistakes and plunge on. Let the letter cook along and let yourself be bold. Outrage, confusion, love– whatever is in your mind, let it find a way to the page. Writing is a means of discovery, always . . .”

    Thanks for letting me be your True True Friend, compadre, and/or soul sibling here on the blog. Just press on the gas and keep going. I can’t wait to see what you discover. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! You are the very definition of a True True Friend, and I’m thankful every day that you found NGN and have come along for the ride with us.

      That quote you shared is beautiful, and I’m going to hold it close to my heart. ❤

  2. I’m bit of an Augustus Waters when it comes to writing… crappy at it (… although that final letter to Hazel was amazing, so I’m not sure what he was talking about… 😀 haha). But I really really love this blog, and it’s posts, and I thank-you so so so much for taking the time to write them. Often, they give a greater meaning to the things I see on TV, or different interpretations to the way I might’ve seen things, and it makes the whole experience that much better. Finding others who have the same interests, experiences, and passions as me, through this blog, is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me, partially because no one in my close circle of immediate friends find the same joy from fangirling as I do, but mostly because it’s nice to feel like you’ve got a community of support and as a place to share things should I need it, and when others need it too. Happy blogversery, and I can’t wait to see where NGN goes in the future! NERDY GIRLS (and people!) REPRESENT! xx

    • Nerdy Girls represent, indeed! 🙂

      Thank you so much for this lovely message, Grace! And you are most certainly not crappy at writing if this comment is any indication—it put the biggest smile on my face. All I ever want to do is help my fellow fans feel like they’re not alone, to feel like they have someone in their corner who cares about things and loves things the same way they do. You’ll always have this community here at NGN whenever you need us!

  3. I have already left lots of love in other place in honor of NGN’s birthday, but I feel it necessary to record it here too for the sake of prosperity!

    While I missed birthday #1, I feel so lucky to have been able to celebrate 2, 3, and now 4 with you. One of my favorite things to read from commenters is why they were drawn to this site, because they are all so similar: we felt lost. NGN is an oasis in the barren landscape of boring and mean spirited TV coverage. It is our safe haven. And while some people may stay only for a short while, and some you would have to drag away kicking and screaming (me), never forget you have given something important and special to every single person who has read one of your reviews.

    Happy Birthday NGN. I hope your 5th year is everything you hope it to be.

    • Thank you, Shauna! Not just for this comment but for being such an integral part of the NGN Family since they day you first visited here to talk about Colin and his sincerity face.

      It’s an honor to think of NGN as a safe haven for fans. I’ve always treasured those rare spaces online where I really felt like I had a home, so it’s always been my goal to create a space like that for others who need it. And feeling lost was such a big part of what drove me to create NGN in the first place, so it seems fitting that others who feel that way might find a sense of belonging here. ❤

  4. Happy 4th birthday, NGN!

    I have been lucky enough to have been around since before the beginning of this wonderful site and I have seen both you and your vision for your life as a writer change and grow in extraordinary ways. I love the vulnerability that goes into every single one of your pieces and how much stronger it has made your writing. Magic happens when we talk about the things we love and it brings out something so special in not only your writing but in the writing each of us who visit NGN. Your comment section is always full of joy and passion and engaged, intelligent individuals who have found a place that welcomes that with open arms. You have drawn each of us here with your thoughts and being and have created an incredible home for us all.

    I’m so excited to see what this next year brings for NGN and you as a person and writer.

    • Thanks, my beautiful tropical fish!

      “Magic happens when we talk about the things we love” – Thank you for putting into words one of the deepest beliefs of my heart and one of the founding principles of NGN. I feel proud to have allowed that magic to flow through me in whatever little way I can.

  5. Happy blog-birthday/anniversary! 🙂

    You know I live in a happy little fandom bubble in my happy little corner of the internet. And NGN is and has always been part of my happy little bubble. Be sure, I only associate with websites that meet my very exacting standards of good writing and smart, but joyful thoughts. I found you because you wrote smart, detailed, joyful reviews of New Girl, back when that was fun to do, and then you hooked me into your Once Upon a Time fairytale world, and for that I’m very grateful. I love all the wonderful discussions we’ve had here. If you were gone I would so miss reading your thoughts, and those of Heather and Tempest and Shauna and all the other lovely people who I know through comments here . How would I know what my shows meant? How would I process the episodes that challenge me? What would I do with my thoughts that start as a quick “you’re so right” and turn into paragraph after paragraph of analysis and feeeelings? So yeah. Don’t stop doing what you do! We love NGN!

    I’m so happy you got so many letters for your project! I wish you all the very best in that process, and hope you remember that we have so much faith in you. Be kind to yourself when things get hard. And know that this is so worth doing.
    {{{{hugs}}}} and confetti and streamers and all those emojis!

    • Thank you so much, Jo! Thanks for following me from one fandom to another, for all your support, your fantastic comments, and your friendship. Just know that the love you feel for NGN is reflected right back at you—I love this little family so much, and you’re such a big part of it.

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