Selfies & Soul Baring: On 15 Years of Blogging

“My name is Julia and I am small,” says my old Livejournal. “I’m that red-head in the miniskirt.”

Thanks to the everlasting power of the internet, I realized today that I am in my fifteenth year of blogging. While I momentarily had a Xanga account, I really got my start on Livejournal—and because reliving the awkwardness of my teen years sounded entertaining, I recently unlocked that account. My first blog post, in all its painful formatting, is pasted below.

yeah so i just wrote in how my day was and it was all cool & such and then my computar got stupid-ish and it all went away so i havta write it all again. damn!!

yesterday was cool. i went to a bday party, but i screwed up my old snowboarding injury AGAIN (yes, i know. im not suppost to do taht lol) so now my ankle is all screwed up and full of pain and such. poop.

today i sat & burnt cd’s and whinned to my momo about my pain until she let me bake a frozen pie, which is now cooling. it smells awesome.

im going to go sniff the pie, i might be back lol.

This earned nine comments. Clearly it was a different time.

I started blogging because it was the thing to do in 2004; if you were young and had access to the internet, you had a MySpace page, a painfully detailed AIM profile, and a Livejournal filled with angsty rants and copy-and-pasted quizzes. And while the social aspect was what brought me to blogging, the emotional and creative outlet was why I stayed. I wrote lengthy posts about boys I longed for, using obscure nicknames to hide my true feelings. I wrote about what was happening in my life, like first time I went out to dinner by myself and penned a post peppered with wiser-than-I-gave-myself-credit-for lines about finding peace by spending time alone. To add the visual features I wanted on my blog I learned basic HTML skills and borrowed the camera my mom used to list used books on to take pictures. And eventually I started writing funny recaps of my days or commentary on media. You can only complain about algebra class for so long, amirite?

Eventually, Livejournal died down in my social circle. I hung on for a few more years, but the posts grew more sporadic. I tried Blogger off and on but it never really clicked. It was fun while it lasted, I thought.

When I launched Oh, Julia Ann I missed that digital platform I’d once felt so inspired by. With the blank template of a site I could write—and actually publish—whatever I wanted. So a few months before graduating college I decided I’d jump back into the scene one last time. I wasn’t fully aware how much the realm had changed, so you can imagine my surprise when a brand first offered to gift something to me for consideration on the site. (Spoiler: I called my mom.) Blogs were now businesses? I was baffled. Sure, I had hoped this site would stick, but I never imagined it would become such a large, or beloved, part of my life.

I distinctly remember hoping to get to 100 followers on Livejournal. My teenage brain would have exploded, shooting belt studs and tacky necklaces as far as the eye can see, if I’d known 10,000+ of you would end up on Oh, Julia Ann every month.

I’m incredibly proud of the opportunities blogging has given me, from professional connections to fulfilling some of my craziest dreams. But somewhere between 2004 to 2018 I dropped something that I didn’t realize was missing until I reread my oldest work. What I gained in SEO practices and editorial guidelines I lost in personal, creative writing and emotional expression. I think it’s time to fix that. While I likely don’t need to complain about unfair grading or the horrors of dress code, there’s a whole lot more beneath the surface that I didn’t realize I’d stopped sharing. Teenage me would be so… how would I say it then… bummed.

TL;DR While refocused, I still have all those feelings and passions I used to express through blogging—and I think it’s time they come back.

My name is Julia and I’m still pretty small. My hair is still bottle red and my skirts are still short. I think I ought to make parts of this fifteenth year of blogging a bit more like the first.

Wait, does this mean I should sign all my posts <3 again, too?

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