Categories Life Write Your Own Story Thursday, February 9, 2017Author Stephanie Drenka3 Comments on Write Your Own Story This post was sponsored by Community Coffee. All opinions are my own. #ShowYourMug “This diary is my kief, hashish and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice.” (Anaïs Nin) When Community Coffee asked me to share my favorite mug, it seemed especially timely. This mug, which I found while exploring a thrift store a few years ago, has been a guiding light of sorts for me in recent months. write your own story, it says. I’ve learned that, sometimes, the statement is easier said than done… I’ve been blogging on and off for more than a decade now. Of course, blogging wasn’t a thing back then. My prepubescent thoughts and feelings were scattered across Livejournal, Diaryland, Xanga or early self-hosted websites (RIP http://starry-eyed.org/stephie). Being an outsider at school, I fled to the Internet for some form of validation or connection. I took refuge in chatrooms, online role playing games, and the practice of pouring my heart out to complete strangers through journaling. People sometimes ask me how I learned everything I know about website development or blogging— and when it all boils down to it, my answer is bullying. I owe a debt of gratitude to an 8th grade classmate who called me a chink in World History class and the “popular” girls who offered my middle school crush ten dollars to ask me out and dump me on Valentine’s Day. I retreated from their taunts through writing, and taught myself HTML to create a website which housed my thoughts. My blog has always been my safe haven. Since launching my first self-hosted WordPress site in 2005, I’ve written about adoption, relationships (and the ending of them), the objectification of Asian women in American media, finding my birth family, struggling with unhealthy body image issues, infertility, loneliness, and everything in between. I’ve chosen to use this space as a platform for those who might be looking for someone understanding of what they’re going through at one point in their life — who may be able to find a sense of comfort in my words. The industry has evolved dramatically since I created my first WordPress blog. This quiet space I used to hide in is now at the forefront of the digital world. Writing has given way to selling, and real stories are increasingly difficult to find. I readily admit that I tried (rather unsuccessfully) to keep up with the changing direction. I stopped writing, because I worked in a field where I told bloggers to do everything in their power to make more money and convert readers into customers. Wanting to practice what I preached, I implemented a lot of that strategy into my own blog. Anecdote was replaced by affiliate links, and my voice began to disappear. I didn’t notice the shift, until the moment I felt compelled to say something real again and was asked to remove words from the post. It was then that I realized the story I was writing was not my own. Now that I’ve started a new chapter of my life, it’s been a priority of mine to dedicate more time to writing. The funny thing is, when I finally posted something meaningful to me again, it received more than 25,000 views in two days. When I think of all the times I failed trying to fit myself into someone else’s narrative… the answer was in my hand the entire time– on my favorite mug. write your own story Share your story (and favorite mug) with the hashtag #ShowYourMug, and you could win a year’s supply of Community Coffee and other coffee goodies by adding #contest to your post. Follow them on Instagram for more coffee-fueled inspiration.