7 Things That Happened When I Started a Blog

3 years ago today, I started my blog.

WHAT.

That means, 3 years ago today, I took a giant leap of faith, and just frankly did something because I wanted to and because I felt it would make me happy. I feel each of us should have those little sunshiney moments of “what the heck” more often, and I’m glad that 18-year old me had the courage to do so.

I love blogging. I still love it. I think I love it even more than I did when I first started and even more than I did yesterday.

Blogging has taught me A LOT.

Like, a lot. I’m honestly at a loss for words.

I’ll share some things that happened after I started my blog today in this reflection post. Many people have DMed and e-mailed me within the past couple weeks inquiring about starting a blog, and while I can sit here and write an informational post about what hosting sites are the best and what the best scheduling platforms are, I think it’s more important to talk about what blogging has brought to my life, and maybe what it’s helped me leave behind.

I gained confidence

At a young age, I was a ham. My parents were trying to record my baby sister’s first steps and I was twirling in front of the camera lens, begging for the attention of the flashing red light. But something switched as a tween/teen. I felt my thighs were too big and my lips too small. I didn’t like the way my tank top ruched around my stomach and I hated posing for the camera so my mom could “get a picture for grandma”. When I started blogging, I was doing primarily fashion posts, so I had to just suck it up for lack of better words. I would feel awkward for the 15-20 min it took to get a couple decent photos of a look, and then I would have to spend an hour editing the photo, unable to avoid staring at myself in a cheesy pose and scalloped skirt.

But, it helped me. It helped me to realize that I looked great in my emerald JCrew scalloped skirt, even if my thighs weren’t the tiniest in the world. I appreciated my broad smile that shone as I hiked my Lily Pulitzer computer case over my shoulder outside of my dorm. I was telling a story about the clothes and the girl in them, so I just had to believe in myself – it didn’t matter if my hair looked “perfect” or my make-up drove everyone to their nearest Sephora to do some damage.

I also felt more comfortable opening up to people. Growing up, I didn’t share personal facts with people. When I had to excuse myself at a sleepover to take my anti-anxiety medication, I would whisper to the hosts mother that I needed my pill and my applesauce. (Couldn’t swallow pills till I was 16, so I took them in applesauce, haha.) When I was feeling anxious at a dance competition, I sat crying in a corner and pretended to be upset that I couldn’t get my hair just right. But after two years of blogging, I felt ready. I had a platform and I felt a pull to share. To open up, and to hopefully instill some hope in others.

So I learned to post things because I liked them, not because I wanted likes. “Do it for the cause, not the applause” or whatever it is that quote says. But overall, I grew to be more comfortable and confident as Cristina.

 

I learned “excellent compuper skills”

This is a Friends reference, and if you got it, you are infinitely more cool.

So, I’ve always been a little bit more computer savvy than would be expected of my age, gender, and high school GPA. In first grade, I was always the first to finish whatever computer assignment we were working on in Word or Powerpoint, so Ms. Flak would have me walk around the computer lab assisting my class mates. I credit having a dad who worked in “notebooks” (a.k.a. early versions of the Windows laptops). He taught me everything I knew until blogging taught me almost everything else.

I learned basic coding, SEO, and my way around the back end of a Wordpress site. I even ended up interning for my dad’s start up and helping with the website building and copy. That helped me in my second internship, the one I have now, which is a digital media internship. I needed very little training with the software and lingo, so I was really able to jump into projects and get some responsibility right from the get-go. So, thanks blogging!

I made genuine friendships

I think the most genuine friendships come from those that just understand you and your passions. They are the ones that never make you feel like anything you love and/or are passion about is silly. They are the ones that help you when you need it, give you guidance when you need it, and just root for you and watch you grow. These are the relationships blogging has allowed me to have. I love that I’ve met other ladies who do what I do and love what I love. They are girls that want to cheer me on, and not compete with me. Sure there can be bad apples in the bunch, but I don’t believe that one rotten one spoils the entire bag. I have found many gems throughout the past three years who I expect to still be close to me for years to come. That is something I truly treasure!

 

I learned who wasn’t there for me

They were people, especially in the beginning, who just plain were not supportive. They cooed and made snarky comments coupled with backhanded compliments, and it hurt my feelings. But it was just a blunt way of me learning who really was my friend and who really was supportive. So I am grateful for that, even if it does sting a little at first. We all have to grow and learn who is really there for us and who really adds to our life, and I’ll be thankful for any opportunity that allows me that privilege.

 

I understood the impact of social media

Pre-blog, I loved social media. I only had a Facebook up until I got my very first iPhone when I was 17. (I know…I was that girl who had a Go-phone and sent green, emoji-less texts. I lived and so did everyone else.) But when I did discover the magical world that was Instagram, a whole new world opened up. I posted each and every #mancrushmonday and #womancrushwednesday and always had the best, silliest #throwbackthursdays. I loved a good snap of my toes sticking out from a fluffy cloud of bubble bath and I was very good at the subtle duck face.

With a blog, things got more serious and my social media time went into overdrive. I had to learn that it wasn’t the best idea to follow over 1,000 other Instagram accounts because it made my head feel like it was going to explode each time I opened the app. I learned my best angles and what photos received what kind of reaction, but overall, I learned that Instagram can really just be a highlight reel.

You wouldn’t know if I was having a terrible day by my photos or how many takes it took to get the perfect shot of my latte, so I decided…why be anything else than real? If people are going to spend the time “creeping” through my feed, shouldn’t I give them something substantial? Shouldn’t I leave them inspired rather than feeling jealous or insecure? I’m not saying I need every photo to be a #nomakeupselfie or that people aren’t responsible for their own feelings and reactions, but….I mean, I have some kind of social responsibility here. So I learned to share the one and only side of myself – the authentic side. The side that reads every night before bed and runs 5ks and eats real food.

I learned that it’s completely and totally ok to be 100% myself on social media, because…it really was never meant to be a highlight reel. It was meant to be about you. You and your life in little squares.

I was able to try things I wouldn’t otherwise have tried

I never thought I’d go to a blogging conference and here from loads of successful full-time bloggers, CEOs, and creatives. Heck, I never even thought that I would just  meet and chat with people….that I met on the Internet. I spent my life pre-blog just doing what everyone else was doing, and making sure I did it well, so everyone liked me. It was pretty exhausting and unfulfilling. Blogging allowed me to experience so many new things, and to do them because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to or that it was what was popular.

 

I found my voice

As previously mentioned, I used to be a follower. I remember those posters in math class that said stuff like, “It’s easy to be a follower. Be a leader!” or “What’s Right is Not Always Popular, What’s Popular is Not Always Right.” But, I wore what everyone else wore, joined the clubs and teams that made you stand out as someone who was “popular” and “a good student” and “going places”. But, I was always just trying to be like someone else. At church, I was trying to be like the best, most vibrant member of a youth group. In dance, I was just trying to be the next Amy Yakima or Tiffany Maher as I practiced, practiced, and practiced. At school I was just trying to be “you know, the girl who like, everyone thinks is cool, and like, totally has cute clothes from VS Pink, and like is super, like, cute.”

When I started a blog, I just pushed all that aside. I was finally going to be “me”…even if I wasn’t totally sure who that was. I shared what I loved, not caring if it wasn’t popular. (I mean, my brand is practically going to bed at 9pm, reading library books, and watercoloring…yeah. I do my own thing now you could say.)

Most importantly, I did all of this because it just solely brought me joy. I didn’t start my blog to be a business, to get me anywhere other than a nice coffee shop for writing, or for any recognition. I just loved writing, I loved telling stories, and I loved fashion, beauty, and health, so I just mashed it all together and called it my new project. A

And now we are here, and I’m so glad that we are.

Thank you guys for following along. I’d love it if you commented down below how long you have been reading my blog and what your favorite kinds of posts are. You mean more to me than you know.

 

X,

Cristina

  • I giggled at the Friends reference. These are wonderful lessons to have learned! I especially love how you found your voice. Congrats on 3 years!

    • Cristina Mandujano

      Haha I’m glad you got the reference. Thanks so much for your sweet comment!

  • Barrychicblog

    Congrats on three years! I’ve been following you since your transition to cristinawashere. Glad to see you come so far 🙂

    • Cristina Mandujano

      Thank you, thank you! So cool that you’ve been here for a while. That means a lot!

  • Yes to all this! Blogging has given me so much — mostly positive — and I agree that sometimes it helps you learn who in your life is supportive & who isn’t. But for the most part everything I’ve gained has been something wonderful: friendships, confidence, a voice, etc. Congrats on 3 years!

    • Cristina Mandujano

      Thank you for your comment! Blogging is just the greatest gift, huh? 🙂

  • Nicole Coppins

    Congrats on three years!! So many of your points resonated with me. I still remember the day I made my blog and now I can’t imagine life without it. I feel like I’ve been reading your blog forever, so it’s exciting to see this big milestone! Congrats again, here’s to the next 3 years 🙂 Nicole // http://www.nicolecoppins.com

    • Cristina Mandujano

      Thank you so much, Nicole! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog these past couple of years!

  • I think I’ve been following your blog for maybeee 2.5 years?! I’ve loved watching your blog blossom but I’ve also loved watching YOU blossom! I have definitely noticed all the changes you stated above and I’m so happy and excited for you. I’m thankful to have met you through blogging!

    • Cristina Mandujano

      Ah, that’s crazy that you’ve been following for so long….crazy awesome! I think I’ve been mutually following you that long, too..haha 🙂 We go way back! Thanks for your sweet words. You, too, have really established such a lovely brand and I’ve really enjoyed your school related posts. I can’t wait to see you transition into adulthood (well, you are an adult, but you know what I mean haha) and how that plays out on your blog. Hope we can someday meet up in the same city!

  • I’ve been following your blog for about two years, I think (back when you were still Cristina on Campus!), and I’ve loved seeing you and your blog grow over the years! I have noticed the changes you mentioned above, and I have definitely started noticing them in myself too! Congrats on three years and I hope you’ll have many more successful years ahead of you!

    • Awh that’s amazing that you have been following for so long! Thank you so much. 🙂

  • thetrendychick

    Congrats on 3 years! It’s amazing what blogging can help you realize about yourself!
    xo, Scarlett
    http://thetrendychick.blogspot.com