One good reason for every person to blog

When I was in elementary school I read the classic Beverly Cleary novel Dear Mr. Henshaw and its sequel, Strider. The first book begins as a series of letters from young Leigh Botts to an admired writer, Boyd Henshaw. After some time, Leigh begins keeping a journal instead, but continues to address each “letter” to Mr. Henshaw.

I followed along as Leigh struggled with all sorts of typical childhood drama, including, unfortunately, the divorce of his parents. In the writing though, I found that Leigh was learning as much from himself as he had from the replies to his original letters. This was one of my first inspirations to write.

I remember on several occasions attempting to keep a journal, but I could never get past the feeling that someone would eventually read it, and inevitably my entries would reflect that. Reaping no self-discovery and harboring no desire to share my thoughts with the world, I tabled the journal idea. As a result, my relationship with my own writing began its on again, off again, roller-coaster ride into adulthood.

Happily, something happened to me yesterday as I was writing (and subsequently re-writing) my first blog post for this site. In looking for the accurate words to describe myself and my life choices, I began to see them a bit more clearly, just as Leigh Botts did all those years ago. Ideas about who I have become and where I’m going in life began to coalesce, and I am now convinced that in time, I will become more and more comfortable in my own skin.

In the summer of 2001 I went door-to-door selling books from the Southwestern Company, an experience that deserves its own blog, or book. In short, I was more or less on my own to sink or swim in an entrepreneurial situation that demanded every fiber of my physical and emotional endurance. I won’t use the phrase “highly recommend it,” here, but I’m certainly better off for having done it.

One of the executives of the Southwestern Company, and now its president, I’m told, was Dan Moore. I was able to spend some time with Dan at the end of the summer as I settled my accounts and prepared to head home to ASU. He said something very interesting to the five of us who were gathered for a little “back to the real world” pow wow. He told us that he took several calculus courses throughout high school and his time at Harvard, each time receiving an “A” grade, and each time failing to retain a grasp of the content after the class had ended.

It wasn’t until later, when Dan was tutoring his wife on calculus for her graduate studies, that he fully understood the subject. It was the classic cartoon light bulb overhead, and that was when he realized that teaching is the key to understanding.

That’s why I think every person should try blogging, or keeping a journal, or whatever. It’s likely that confiding in yourself (or teaching yourself, if you like) will bring some clarity, comfort, or joy. If you do decide to share your thoughts with the world, a wonderful bonus is the knowledge that you just might improve the life of someone who can relate.

Please let me know if you’re feeling inspired to “teach yourself,” by sending me a note or commenting below.

A version of this post was originally published at on November 19, 2016.

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