“That is the truest form of empathy: Not just feeling, but doing.” — Michelle Obama
What can I do?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last five months.
What can I do to find my way in a world that’s suddenly nothing like the world I knew before? What can I do to help all the people around me who are struggling? What can I do to feel more like myself again?
So much of my sense of self is wrapped up in the way I interact with others. I like being someone who randomly compliments someone’s shoes at work or tells the salesperson at the mall to have a great day or smiles as she holds the door open for the person behind her at Starbucks. I like hugging people and planning trips with my loved ones and taking my friends out to dinner to celebrate the big and small victories and to soothe the major and minor heartaches. And while this pandemic hasn’t completely taken away those things, it has shifted how I deal with the world—and how I see myself.
For a long time, I’ve been feeling lost, and in the spirit of openness and vulnerability that’s always been behind everything I do at NGN, I want to say it’s been hard. I want to say it’s been the cause of tears and sleepless nights and downright panic. I’m blessed to have my health and my job and to be surrounded by immediate family, but I also think we do each other and ourselves a disservice when we try to push down or hide our struggles just because we think we have it easier or better than others. There’s room to both acknowledge our blessings (of which I have an abundance) and to acknowledge our struggles.
But lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to take my struggles and my sense of searching for how I can interact in this weird new world and use them to move forward in a better way, in a way that feels true to the version of me I know is always there. And it hit me this morning that it can start in the place where I first really discovered that version of me: here at NGN.
Everyone is going through their own things right now. Some are bigger than others, but everyone is trying to find their footing on rocky ground. So how can I help? One way is to say that I’m right there with you—going through the entire spectrum of human emotions basically every day since March.
But another way—the way that feels the most like the version of me I want to hold on to—is to spread some love. In this current environment, sometimes it’s hard to remember the good things about both the world and ourselves, so today I wanted to try to help all of us reconnect with some positivity.
If you haven’t guessed the plan by now, here it is: We’re having our annual LOVE POST, and we’re having it today.
Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are.
I don’t care if you’ve never visited NGN before today or if you haven’t been here in years or if you’re an old guard member of the NGN Family. You all deserve to have people tell you nice things about yourself—no matter how much you might tell yourself you hate compliments. I’m going to reply to every single person’s posts, so don’t worry that you’ll be stuck with no comments, either. That’s not how things work around these parts.
The world is dark, and everyone is stumbling blindly toward the light in their own way. So what can I do? I can bring some light back to this little corner of the internet that’s been dark for too long. I can feel for all of you, but I can do something too. And if I can make one person’s day brighter with a comment they read in this post, then today’s already been a better day than a lot of the ones that came before.
I’ll start things off with a comment of my own just to show any newbies how it’s done, and I hope to come back later to a long list of names for me to send love to.
Things are hard right now, but love has a way of making them feel a little bit easier.
Katie (aka nerdygirlnotes here and on Twitter) ❤
Hey Katie! I really love this idea. We don’t know each other but I always loved your The Americans post and end up crying about them lol. Hope life is good to you and that this wave of love you’re creating spreads far and strong. Take care!
Well this certainly deserves some love being sent your way too! Thank you so much for being so kind and reaching out! Any fan of The Americans is a friend of mine, so I should clearly tell you that I love your wonderful taste in TV and your incredible kindness in leaving me this message. I hope you have a fantastic day and that some wonderful vibes follow you through it. 😀
It has been ten years of these and you still make me cry with all of your replies to me. You have always seen me with such clarity. Not just the person I feel like I need to be but all of me. I know I always have a place to be petty or mad or sad or anxious when that’s what I’m feeling without the pressure to be alright that I usually put on myself and that’s a remarkable gift.
I love your heart and the way you put all of yourself into whatever you do. I know it makes things a pain for you sometimes, but now that you’ve embraced that part of you and let it shine, you could never be any other way. You feel deeply and do everything with passion and commitment and refuse to compromise on that.
I love how easy it is to be with you. For two people who spend 99% of the year several thousand miles apart, none of that matters the second we see each other again. From the big things like concerts and WDW to the simple joys of watching a lot of Food Network in a hotel room because we got way too hot and ate too sweet of a breakfast in Chicago, every minute of our trips has been perfect. I’ll never drink enough water and we’ll always have way more restaurant choices than we could ever hope to try but getting to see some of your favorite places and share one of mine with you has been a consistent highlight of the past almost decade of traveling together. It’s a chance to understand the other person in a new way and we have thoroughly embraced it.
I also really love our trend this year of sharing the books that we love because we want the other person to love them as well. Lost Stars and Beach Read were so good and getting to text you about them while reading made it an even better experience.
I love getting to be your friend and I still feel so lucky that we found each other so many years ago and just keep getting closer. You make my life brighter and happier and I can’t imagine it any other way now ❤
Oh, Katie girl, you know I love your enthusiasm and determination to be better. To be a better writer, a better friend, a better colleague, a better sister and daughter, and just a better person. I love that you want to extend that better where you can. I love how relentlessly you seek joy and a sense of community. I love how you aren’t afraid to share the happy and the sad, that you’re willing to be vulnerable. While I love discussions about the things we share, I also love reading you gush over things I’m unfamiliar with. And you know I love that you welcomed me into the NGN community.
Heather (aka tvexamined on twitter/kekela717 on tumblr)
Where do I even start???
I feel like this is where our friendship really grew—in LJ love posts that made me feel like, ‘Hey, this person really knows me. She really gets me.’ And that is such a rare gem of a thing to find in any friendship—no matter where it’s first born.
So I think the thing I want to single out today is the way you always make people (and by people, I mean me) feel understood. From the very beginning, you were always there to listen and to know exactly when I needed advice and when I needed someone to say “That sucks.” And that’s something no one has ever understood as innately as you do when it comes to me and my various emotional breakdowns. When you love, it’s unconditional, and I’m not sure you can even see or appreciate how special that is because it’s just part of you. But I see it, and I appreciate it. I appreciate that you never once have ever made me feel like I was too much of anything or that I was hard to love. I appreciate every gift you’ve ever given and every trip we’ve ever planned—because they’re reflections of how well you understand me and how much love we both have for the same things (aka rooftops and balconies and good potatoes and breakfast foods at any time of day). And I appreciate every year that we’ve grown closer because I can honestly say that these past 10+ years have shown me that adult friendship is weird and hard—but not when you have the right person to call your best friend when all is said and done.
I love a billion other things about you too. I love your taste in TV and books. I love that you encourage my love of expensive shoes and fancy cocktails and desserts. I love that you let me take care of you when I remind you to stay hydrated with only minimal eye rolling. 😉 I love the way our Skype dates make every Sunday brighter. I love traveling with you and being petty with you and laughing with you in hotel rooms and in my car and in restaurants and through texts. I love seeing the world with you and seeing my favorite places through your eyes and having you show me your favorite places too. I love your relationship with Sam and finally getting to see in person how perfectly you work together. I love your patience and your thoughtfulness and your incredibly good heart.
You’re the best friend I have and one of the best people I know. And I’m forever grateful to love posts and LiveJournal for giving me the gift of a friendship that has made my life better and brighter every day for more than a decade.
if I’m not too late… Kelly (aka _kellyq on Twitter)
It’s never too late for love (and sorry this reply is so late—I obviously was too emotional after all the speeches yesterday to properly tell you how awesome you are)!
When I think of the myriad of reasons why I love you, I think of meeting you in person for the first time in Rockefeller Center and immediately feeling a sense of comfort and ease that I usually only feel with people I’ve known for years. And that’s just exactly who you are. You’re warm and funny and bright, and you exude an energy that draws people to you—both online and in person.
You’re also ridiculously smart. Every time we talk, that’s something I walk away thinking. But it’s never the kind of smart that makes other people feel excluded. Your intelligence is accessible and inclusive and comes from a place of wanting everyone to understand and see all the details and beauty (and the things that need changing in the world) that you see. It’s this incredible mixture of insight and enthusiasm, and it’s what makes you one of the best writers I know.
I love your love of Disney details, because I can’t trust a person who can’t quote the Muppet Vision preshow or the entirety of Ellen’s Energy Adventure. I love that you genuinely care about people—enough to reach out at a time when reaching out always feels harder than it used to. I love that you’re supportive and kind and open. And I love that you are on this incredible journey of getting to know yourself and what you need and want better. I know that journey isn’t easy and feels lonely, but I also hope you know that I’m here for you every step of the way. Whatever you need—shippy episode guides for The Rookie, advice, or just someone to vent to about Illuminations being gone—I’m here. ❤
Katie! I’m so sorry I was too swamped and too sleep deprived to reply yesterday but please know this made my entire day. This is so kind. The way you give compliments (generous, specific, observant, always leading to a bigger thought about how to exist in the world) says a lot about you and what makes you such a wonderful friend. I’m so lucky to know you! I absolutely felt the same that day at Rockefeller—it’s a rare gift to click with someone like that! I admire your honesty and vulnerability and your warmth so much, and I cherish our video calls (more soon please). I’m sure I’ll be taking you up on that episode guide soon. And yes, I do blame the end of Illuminations for everything that has gone wrong since. I so appreciate you!
Tempest (who basically is nowhere to be found online . . . except lurking here . . . but I really do exist . . . honest!)
I’m so happy to see you here because I always want to shower you with all the love I can. You’re forever the Rose to my Peggy and my purveyor of digital Doctoberfest mugs. But it’s so much more than that too. I love that you’re an integral part of this NGN Family. Your support and your kindness and your enthusiasm have kept this place going and kept me going at times when it felt like I was screaming into the void and didn’t belong anywhere anymore.
I love that you so easily embrace and encourage vulnerability and have always made me feel like it’s okay to share whatever I’m feeling—the good and the really-not-so-good. I’m a better and braver writer because of you, and that’s a fact. I love your love for themes of identity and self-definition and your passion for the media you love. I love your openness and your friendly nature and your unfailing belief that words matter. And I love knowing that at the end of the day I have someone in this corner of the internet—in my corner—who always has my back and who I hope believes I will always have hers too.
I hope you’re staying safe and healthy! ❤