I’ve stopped and started this post dozens of times. Like most of what I “write” today, I imagine the words coming together so beautifully in my head while I’m driving to work, but it all breaks down into nonsensical babbling the minute I find myself sitting in front of my computer. Here’s hoping today it’s different.
It’s been mostly radio silence here on my blog because I mostly haven’t got much that I want to publicly say anymore. How many times can I say, “Damn, that was a stupid decision” and “Whew! I’m glad that shit is over” before I’ve bored even myself to tears?
In the blogging world, when you don’t write for awhile people forget you. There’s simply too many bloggers vying for our limited time and ever-dwindling attention spans. On WordPress.com alone, every single day tens of thousands of new blogs are launched. Tens of thousands! So if you aren’t constantly out there hustling for your 15 milliseconds of attention you might as well not exist.
In 2008 I started this blog for one reason and one reason only, I wanted to say “fuck” on the Internet. In fact, I was desperate to say fuck. I’d come to the end of my Suzie Homemaker, good little Christian homeschool mom rope, and it was either kill myself, kill somebody else, or say fuck on the Internet. I chose fuck.
A lot of people didn’t like the “new” me. I was tossed out of one forum where I’d been a long time member, and then I stormed out of another one. And in the process I got myself a little reputation for being hot-headed.
But, just as many people didn’t like where I was going, others did. People who resonated with my new Fuck this Bullshit/Kiss my Ass message called me things like courageous and brave and vulnerable. And the next thing I knew, courageous, brave, vulnerable me set out to make a million dollars blogging!
The only problem is that I haven’t a clue about how to run a business (No worries! There’s plenty of folks out there on the blogging conference circuit who’ll promise you that you don’t need to know a thing about business to be a successful blogger.)
Before too long it was obvious to me that I’d chosen the wrong people to trust. Unfortunately, and this part I take full responsibility for, I didn’t handle it well at all. Instead of dealing with my mistakes head-on, I hid. I crawled into a hole and allowed my anxiety and shame to eat me alive.
And here’s the part where I always quit this post and go do something else that feels a helluva lot better emotionally. But today, just maybe, I’m going to push past this to get to what I’ve learned from all of this.
How to Be Happy
I have learned something from my stint as a professional blogger and not only do I want to share it with my readers, but I want to write it down for myself for when I forget what I’ve learned. So here are the THREE lessons I’ve learned from professional blogging about being happy.
Lesson One: Stop Giving a Fuck About What Other People Think of You
Mark Manson wrote a great article a few months back called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. This piece of writing changed my life. While everyone was telling me to Let it Go, Mark was able to clarify what my real problem was: I give way too many fucks.
Many people think what’s wrong with me is that I don’t give enough fucks, but there could be nothing further from the truth. In fact, my penchant for fuck-giving is what my enemies used against me so well. They knew that despite my devil-may-care public persona, all they had to do was plant a few nasty rumors among the gullible about how I’m such a diva and a power-tripping attention whore, and next thing you know I would give-a-fuck myself to death.
Oh, but how I wailed and gnashed my teeth in the privacy of my own give-a-fuck hell, “How could people think this of me!?!? Don’t they know what a nice person I am?!?”
See? Way too many fucks.
What Mark taught me is that I need to learn to be much more prudent about my ever-dwindling ration of fucks to give.
Should I give a fuck about the misinformed opinions of a bunch of strangers who were easily manipulated by false rumors and nasty innuendo manufactured about me all geared to make them feel better about themselves? Hell fucking No! Why would I give a fuck about people I don’t even know?
Should I give a fuck about what some emotionally stunted and terminally jealous women think about me? Hell fucking NO! Why did I give a fuck in the first place about the opinion of people I don’t even like?
Should I give a fuck about some silly, misguided, middle-aged sychophants who think they are going to make a million dollars blogging if only they can kiss enough of the right ass? Hell fucking NO! Above all, I should most definitely not give a fuck about that.
Freeing myself up from a whole bunch of misplaced fuck-giving created space for far more important things, like giving a fuck about what’s really important to me: my husband, my children and grandchildren, and my financial future.
See, what Mark taught me is that the secret to a joyful life worth living isn’t not giving any fucks, but choosing more wisely where I give my fucks.
Lesson Two: Put Yourself First
This one is tough, especially for Christian women, because people will talk bad about you and call you a bad Christian if you dare put yourself first. That’s why I had to put the not giving a fuck lesson first because you can’t put yourself first until you’ve stopped giving a fuck about what other people think of you.
“But, Chloe, isn’t putting yourself first selfish?”
Yep. It is. So?
You don’t think Jesus was selfish? I’m sure his disciples before His crucifixion would say he was. They wanted him to run away from the Romans before he got them all killed. They wanted him to stop stirring up so much shit with the Pharisees and getting them tossed out of the synagogue. But, as far as I understand the scriptures, Jesus had his mission, and everybody else could go suck it.
You have a mission, too. Your job is to go pursue it, whatever that is, and let everybody else go suck it.
Granted, it is likely you have people you love who you want along for your ride. I get that. But your mother was right. The people who really love you will support you, and the people who don’t, won’t. In fact, a good test of a person’s devotion to you is demonstrating your real self to them and watching what they do next. It’s a tough test because you have to be ready for rejection, but it’s the only way to know who loves you and who’s just using you for their own selfish mission.
Lesson Three: Embrace Failure
Anyone who tells you that achieving your dreams is easy is trying to sell you something. There’s a bazillion dollar cottage industry built upon the notion that all you need to do is “set your intention” and all your dreams will magically come true. But, if you think about it, an intention is nothing more than a wish, and if wishes were fishes…well, you get the point.
You are going to have to work very hard if you want to create the life you want to live. And, after working your ass off, you are most likely going to face the agonizing heartache of failure at least once, but probably a lot more.
Because of your own misplaced fucks, you are going to trust people who turn out to be untrustworthy. While waiting for people to come along who truly do care about you, you’ll likely be lonely a lot of the time. Over and over again, you are going to pick yourself up, dust your sorry ass off, and do more on any given day than you ever imagined possible if you want to see anything worthwhile happen in your life.
Creating A Life Worth Living is Serious Business
My husband and I have a dream. This dream has been forming itself in our minds for three and a half years now, and we’ve had to work very hard to get where we are, and we’re still a long way off.
First, we had to go get some serious marital counseling to deal with some old, and new, wounds. People look at marriage counseling as a failure when it really is one of the best things a couple can do for themselves.
Next, we had to make some seriously difficult financial decisions which included walking away from our seriously upside-down mortgage. This is the single best financial decision we’ve ever made, but it was humiliating and humbling until we learned to stop giving a fuck about what other people think and started thinking for ourselves.
Then we both had to set about finding ways to make seriously good money. My husband is doing his part, and I’m doing mine.
A year and a half ago I took up travel nursing where I now make in a single day what I used to make in a week. Yes, I work very hard and many long hours, but my eye is firmly on the prize.
And I have the failure of my professional blogging career to thank for all of this. Not a day goes by when I’m not eternally grateful for the heart-breaking failure of Generation Fabulous and the two pathetic people who made it all possible.
My husband and I have had to think outside the box, decide to live unconventionally (thank goodness we don’t give a fuck about what other people think anymore), and put our dreams first in every decision we make (Sorry kids, but you’ll thank us someday when you don’t have to take care of us when we’re in our dotage.)
Where to Next?
In ten short days we close on a gorgeous piece of property with this view where we plan to build our dream home next year. Both my husband and I are working very long hours these days to make our dreams come true. It’s thrilling, it’s exhausting, but our lives are far better now than we ever imagined back in the beginning of 2012 when our journey began in earnest.
What role does blogging have in this future? I don’t know. Maybe some. Maybe none. Other than the fact that I promised AARP I’d write three posts in exchange for flying me to Miami in a couple of weeks to attend the Life@50+ National Event, it doesn’t matter to me anymore.