In today’s “Best of 2017” post, we’re taking a journey through my blog posts from the past year. In 2017, I wrote 103 posts, which is right around the amount I wrote last year. I try to write an average of two posts per week, publishing on Tuesdays and Fridays. In August, I didn’t publish any blog posts due to my blogging break and in October, I published my highest total of 14 posts (seven of those being my “Week in the Life” series).
Here’s what resonated the most with readers this year. These are my top 10 blog posts by traffic:
- What It’s Like to Date a Highly Sensitive Person
- Book Review: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani
- Book Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
- On Taking Care of a Dog at the End of His Life
- What People Don’t Understand about Social Anxiety
- My Social Anxiety Is Not a Weakness
- What It Means to Grow Up Poor
- On My 30th Birthday
- Book Review: Extreme You by Sarah Robb O’Hagan
- When You’re Not Okay
What this list tells me is that readers love when I open up about my social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and high sensitivity. While three of my book reviews made it into my top 10, it’s hard to count those as favorites with readers because those posts are cross-posted onto another website and I don’t get nearly any engagement with them. They are anomalies, really. So, basically, you love when I get vulnerable. Noted.
Now, let’s dig into the meat of this post, which is a list of some of my more favorite posts from the year. I have completed this list of posts for four years now and it’s always so much fun to go back through my posts and pick out some of my better ones that I want to highlight. While I try to have a good mixture of light-hearted posts with my personal essays, there’s no doubt that the personal essays are where I get to flex the most of my creative muscle.
My favorite post was This is What Democracy Looks Like, where I reflected on participating in the Women’s March in St. Petersburg and how my political views have changed over time.
What I am is a liberal Democrat with a passion for human rights, most especially for women and the LGBTQIA community. I’m pro-choice, which is not the same as being pro-abortion. Then again, being pro-life isn’t the same as being pro-all life. What I do believe is that women should have access to the services they need and, in some cases, that includes abortion services. What I believe is that I have zero right to tell a woman what she should do with her body. And neither does anyone else.
My most popular post was What It’s Like to Date as a Highly Sensitive Person, where I give 8 ways dating as an HSP is completely different than dating as a non-HSP.
Being a highly sensitive person means life is more intense for me, which makes sense that dating would be a more intense situation. Love comes very easily for me because I am so in tune with my emotions and my surroundings, so I tend to fall in and out of love quickly. (Some may say that’s not really love, and I won’t argue the point. I just think it’s the easiest way to explain how I feel.) But isn’t there such a radical beauty to that? It means I get to experience love in all it’s glory again and again and again.
My most helpful post was How to Read More This Year, where I give five tips on how you can begin to carve out more time for reading.
I read before bed every single night. Sometimes, I can only manage a chapter before my eyes are too tired to focus and sometimes, I get in bed so early that I can read for 45 minutes or more. This is when I get the majority of my reading done. It’s such a habit for me that I feel weird if I go to bed without reading, even if it’s just a few pages. If you find that those hours right before you go to sleep are spent scrolling through Instagram or reading terrible news stories on Twitter, instead plug in your phone, set your alarm, and put it on Do Not Disturb. Then snuggle into bed with your book and read until you get sleepy. It’s the perfect end-of-the-day activity!
A post whose success surprised me was When You’re Not Okay, where I talk about being sad and some of the things I do to fight my way out of a funk.
“This too shall pass.” “Feel your feelings.” “It’s okay to not be okay all of the time.” “You will get through this now because you’ve gotten through this before.” I have a bunch of mantras I turn to when I’m feeling down. Mostly, I like to remind myself that it is okay to be sad. I am not a robot, I am a complex human being and all of my emotions are valid, even the ones I don’t necessarily enjoy. I also like to remind myself that I will not always be sad. I will not always feel so defeated by life. Find a mantra and repeat it over and over and over again until you start believing it.
A post I didn’t feel got the attention it deserved was When Your Anxiety Looks & Feels Different, where I open up about my anxiety struggles and implore those struggling to get help, even if their anxiety looks different than what is portrayed online and in movies/TV.
My anxiety did not look like the anxiety I saw from other people who opened up about their struggles, so I thought that maybe because it didn’t affect my life in the same way that I didn’t deserve medication. Most days I was okay! Perfectly happy, even. And then, out of the blue, everything would fall apart and I’d feel as if my world was crashing down on me and I was swimming underwater and didn’t know how to reach the air. But then I’d fight my way out of it and be okay and convince myself that I didn’t really need meds. It didn’t affect me “enough.”
My most beautiful post was On Taking Care of a Dog at the End of His Life, where I discuss a recent diagnosis from Dutch’s vet and how I’m processing the news.
He’s been such a big part of my life for so long. It’s hard to imagine living life without him. Every time I think about going home and him not being there, a piece of my heart cracks. For the past eight years, every time I come home, he’s there. But the reality of our dogs is that they live short lives and we have to have the strength to let them go. I’m just hoping Dutch will give me some time to find that strength.
The post I was most scared to push publish on was What People Don’t Understand About Social Anxiety, which was in response to a mean comment someone left on my blog.
When I’m in my logical mind, I know that nobody cares how I park my car. I know that I’m not an idiot if I have to look around a while before spotting my friends in a restaurant. I know that. But social anxiety does not play on logic; it plays on our biggest fears. Our fear of being judged harshly, of people laughing at us, of being embarrassed. So, yes, I will worry about people judging me for how I parked my car because that’s how my social anxiety works. You don’t need to tell me it’s silly because I know it is. I already feel completely ridiculous by how crippled I get by my thoughts when I’m worried about a social event. I already feel as if there’s something wrong with me because I get so damn worried all the time about things most other people don’t even concern themselves about. But social anxiety is not about logic, so please don’t make someone feel bad for the things they are fearful of. That’s not helpful, that’s harmful.
The post I am most proud of was A Year-By-Year Review of My Twenties, where I explored each year of my twenties and saw just how far I’ve come over the last decade.
For the past two years, I’ve documented my year month-by-month, assigning the emotion I was feeling most strongly to each month. I thought it might be fun to document my twenties in the same way, which meant I had to dig through my blog’s archives and my own memories to figure out exactly what happened each year and how I was feeling. It was an interesting experience, helping me to see just how damn far I’ve come in ten years. I can’t believe that ten years ago, I was a scared college student who thought she was meant to be an elementary school teacher. How times have changed, eh?
It’s been a great year of blog posts and I want to make 2018 even better! While I have my own specific ideas of what I want for my blog next year, I wanted to make sure what I want aligns with what my readers are craving. It’s true that I don’t write for an audience, but this blog wouldn’t be what it is without people engaging with my posts and helping me feel less alone in this crazy world. So, if you have a minute, would you mind filling out my survey and letting me know more about who you are and what content resonates with you the best? I’d greatly appreciate it! Simply go here to fill out my survey!