Last month I participated in a psych study at Columbia University. The study involved, among other things, taking a survey every morning that asked me about my mood. On a scale of 1 to 7, “Not at all” to “All the time,” I had to rate things like:
I feel sad/blue
I am worried/anxious
I feel angry/irritable
Every morning I would take out my pen, circle a whole bunch of “Not at all”s, and send the survey off.
5 months ago I don’t think my answers would have been so cheery. And Stratejoy is largely to thank for that.
When Molly called to tell me I was accepted as a season 6 blogger, I said, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” I barely slept the night before my first post went live. I was nervous about coming clean to the world about my insecurities and putting myself out there because I was a sad, unconfident person and why would anyone care and WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR OMG CAN I CANCEL.
When I started reading the comments on that first post, I was overwhelmed. The Stratejoy community is so wonderful and supportive that I can’t believe I was reluctant to share my story here. Mondays quickly became my favorite day of the week (which, admittedly, is easier to have happen when you don’t have a job). Between the Fierce Love course and the ridiculous outpouring of amazingness I received each week, my mental health vastly improved. I can honestly say that while my quarterlife crisis may not be over, the worst of it absolutely is.
So to all of you – Molly, Katie, my 6 amazing co-bloggers, commenters, my “real life” friends who reached out to me with support – thank you. Your kind words and cheerleading have been invaluable, and I don’t know how I could have made myself so vulnerable every week without you.
In a way, it feels like my time at Stratejoy is ending prematurely. Not because I deserve to be here longer than anyone else, but because in the last 5 months I kind of haven’t done anything. My fellow bloggers are becoming fitness instructors, starting businesses, moving across the country, learning to say “YES” to more opportunities, pursuing their passions and finding more fulfilling jobs.
They are accomplishing shit and kicking ass and I feel inadequate.
What I think, though, is that maybe it isn’t the time for me to be doing those huge things. 2012 doesn’t have to be a year full of action if that’s not where I am in life. Maybe the changes that I needed were more quiet ones – learning to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see even if what I see isn’t a size 2, standing up for myself more, and being able to go out to a bar at night, not get a single lick of attention from any men, and just not give a fuck because I can know that I’m awesome without validation from some drunk, handsy dude (though I do like the occasional drunk handsy dude, of course).
So even though I’m not doing big things like Caiti, Jill, Rachel, Camilla, Cassie and Sarah, I’m okay with that. It’s not so much my life that’s in transition as it is my attitude. Which, I realize now, was totally necessary.
Seriously though, sidebar to fellow bloggers – YOU GUYS ARE SO AWESOME. Please move to New York immediately. I am completely inspired by all of your courage, smarts, and hotness. I’m humbled by the fact that I was allowed to blog with you and I wish you all 7 minutes in heaven with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. SEASON 6, BABY.
This sounds like goodbye, and in many ways it is. But really, I’m not going anywhere. I will always be involved with Stratejoy in any way that I can, and of course I still have an internet presence. I would love to stay in contact with this community, so if you should feel so inclined, you can reach out to me at:
- Email me
- My personal blog, Not the Mermaid. I’m implementing a series which I am giving the very original name of “Stratejoy Monday,” where I’m going to continue writing posts just like the ones I write on Stratejoy right now. It’s a way of continuing the amazing journey that I’ve started here and interspersing introspection and self-love with posts about dining in the dark or why I hated 50 Shades of Grey.
Over the last week, I’ve encountered not one, but two quotes that really sum up some of the lessons that I’ve learned from my time at Stratejoy. Since I can’t decide between them, as my parting gift I’ll give you both.
The first is from Anthem, by Ayn Rand.
“For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end.”
The second comes, interestingly enough, from Salt of Salt-n-Pepa. They were giving a free concert in Brooklyn last week, and while I knew it was going to be awesome, I hardly expected it to be inspirational (unless I were to lift a few pickup lines from Shoop. You know, like “If looks could kill you would be an uzi.” OKAY BAD JOKE OVER). During some between-songs banter, Salt started talking about how important it is to express yourself. She said:
“Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Because the real you is more fabulous than the fake anybody else.”
Thank you all again. Blogging here has been one of the most scarily liberating things I’ve ever done. I will miss this more than I can adequately express in 1,000 words. I know that this experience will help shape the next phase of my journey, because even if I don’t know where I’m going, I know now that I have the tools to get me there.
(Photo: This is from my friend’s bachelorette party in 2010. I don’t 100% know why I thought a pole dancing picture was an appropriate one for my last post aside from maybe the fact that I’m exhibiting a level of confidence in this picture that was lost to me before I started blogging for Stratejoy. So there you are.)
***Note from Katie:
Arielle – You have grown so much in the last 5 months. I noticed a change in you within the first few weeks, but anxiously waited for the moment in which you could see them. While maybe your changes aren’t the same as everyone else’s, they’re yours, and now you can see them. Everyone is on their own journey, and girl, you have rocked yours!
You truly are an inspiration to so many women out there who are learning to love themselves. It’s been an honor to watch you flourish, and I cannot wait to see where you go from here. I’ll be holding you to Stratejoy Mondays. Expect reminder emails.
“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain