You Do You

“You do you.”

This is the best blogging advice I’ve ever received. This is the best life advice I’ve ever received.

It’s hard to believe I began this blog over five years ago. I was in a really different place as a newish college grad. It never occurred to me that I’d live anywhere other than the Twin Cities. I was completing my first year of graduate school towards a M.A. of Marriage and Family Therapy and apprenticing with one of Minnesota’s only Registered Herbalists.

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New college grad. Footloose and fancy free at the MN State Fair.

I tried to follow in the footsteps of my favorite food bloggers of the time who wrote about dining experiences. For someone who had never published anything online before, this struck me as exciting (and terrifying). If you take a look at my old posts, you’ll find many overwrought restaurant reviews. I’ve since tried to remove the most unnecessarily snarky ones. They reflected my experiences with 100% truthfulness, but, three-five years later, we’ve all had time to grow.

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Greeting Paul Bunyan on a road trip from Fargo, ND to Detroit Lakes, MN in 2012.

Back when my blog was new, I had the same types of friends. We all hailed from the Upper Midwest. We rallied for the same presidential candidate, listened to Regina Spektor, shopped at the Wedge on Lyndale, and watched Arrested Development. Five years and three moves later, I’ve carried my little blog with me through four states.

I know more types of people now. Some of my friends love eating at Applebee’s while others would rather find any other locally-owned alternative. Some raise hogs inside and others pasture-raise their livestock. Some are mourning the end of Nashville while others can’t get enough Veep. I still believe what I believe and lean where I lean. And sometimes I really have no idea what to make of it all, but hope I’ve become a better listener.

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Bottle feeding a calf at my friend’s farm SkyView Farms in Nora Springs, Iowa 2015

When I post about restaurants, I aim to highlight the meals that light my fire. I write less recipes and sometimes I don’t feel like writing about food at all.

One long-time reader had enough. He didn’t like how my posts were evolving. His farewell email explained why he stopped following me. He expressed pity for me having to move to for my husband’s job and hoped that I found my way back to topics more fitting of quality food journalism. At first I felt sad. I wondered if others felt the same way. Then, I reflected on all of the adventures I’ve had and people who I met. I thought about how moving made me feel braver and forced me to experiment with my writing and strategies for reaching new people in new states.

Several people saw me licking my wounds and said, “You do you.” Now, when I feel insecure, I remember this. The good news is that we can cultivate our blogs the way we see fit in our own little corners of the internet universe. There’s a blog for everyone. We’re all works in progress.

At the end of 2014 I etched this quote from Jordana Rothman in my heart: “Let’s just like what we like and hate what we hate in 2015.” I would like to carry this sentiment into 2016 and 2017 and 2018. . .

For example, I think smoothie bowls are really annoying. Sometimes I like to make jokes about all of the smoothie bowls in my social media feeds. Many of my friends love smoothie bowls. Should I stop commenting on smoothie bowls because I know people who post about them? No, because that would be inauthentic. Should my friends stop singing smoothie bowl praises because I think smoothie bowls are annoying? No, because that would be inauthentic and we’d also be terribly boring.

Inspiration from Lottie & Doof’s post You’re Boring

As one blogger I looked up to shared this advice with me before I even published my first post: “Stop when it’s not fun anymore.” The reason why I’m still updating my blog is because I am still having fun. You and I may have to manage our blogs differently in order to keep having fun and that’s OK.

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You do you.

10 Comments

  1. This is fantastic! I 100% agree to. The world would be totally boring if we were all the same. I also love that even though we’re identical twins we don’t have to do everything identically the same. We are two different people (even though mom can’t tell us apart).

    P.S. I love your blog!

  2. I love your blog because it is you! I found it back when you lived in Minneapolis and I love the transitions as you move and you write about you.

  3. I love how your blog is authentic and totally you. I think blogs are always developing – sometimes that modifying our focuses, while other times it’s going back to our roots and reason why we started in the first place. But like you said, in the end, if you’re having fun – that’s all that matters. Great post Jeni!

  4. Good message here Jeni! Stay true to who you are and you’ll do just fine.
    Love Dad Flaa

  5. I totally agree with your blog

  6. I totally agree with your blog

  7. I totally agree with your blog

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