When I chose the WordPress-generated theme for this website, I noticed it included an example blog post titled “First blog post.” Clearly, WordPress is just trying to help me see how the layout will present itself as I add posts to the blog portion of my site. However, I can’t help but imagine a western cowgirl standoff, as I lock eyes with this title “First blog post.” WordPress is challenging me with a hurdle I haven’t faced in a long time: writing the first of (ideally) many posts to share with the Wild Wild Web. “Do you know what you want to write about?” it asks. “Can you even bring yourself to do it?”
Writing the first post for your blog is hard. Many Firsts can be that way. Because I love breaking big concepts down into smaller, more manageable ideas, I imagine that Firsts can be categorized as active experiences and passive experiences. Active Firsts are things that you do, intentionally or unintentionally, and can be a rewarding source of accomplishment that motivates you toward Seconds and Thirds and so on. However, sometimes active Firsts can be a source of shame–a reminder of what not to do ever again (whether or not you actually hold yourself to that promise). On the other hand, passive Firsts are things that happen to you, usually beyond your control. As much as we’d like to think we can orchestrate our lives, the universe and the other beings who inhabit it have their own desires and trajectories, and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it. These passive Firsts can sometimes be a source of joy, fulfillment, and excitement for more of the like. Other times, they are awful and wished into nonexistence.
As I think about what it means to experience a First—active or passive—memories bombard me, overwhelm me. I’m left here simultaneously laughing and cringing.
I remember the first time I made a friend that wasn’t family and, thus, forced to like me. I abandoned my dad during a game of hide-and-seek to knock on a random neighbor’s door. “Do you have any kids?” I asked. Thankfully, the woman who answered had two children around my age, who were fairly nice and welcoming. Also, she wasn’t a pedophile or an axe murderer so that worked out for me too.
I remember the first time I felt my personal boundaries pushed, as a dance teacher literally pressed my aching body into a split against the wall in an attempt to make my chubby little legs stretch wide like my fellow, more flexible classmates. This was also the first time I stood up for myself, by proclaiming to my parents that I did not want to return to class and I quit the sport of dancing all together. This was clearly not a safe space for me. This may have been the first time I quit something a little too early too.
I remember the first time death became a real, tangible experience, and not just some concept paired with heaven and old people. I was ten years old when my father’s life was taken by a recurring brain tumor. While I was still in the womb a decade prior, death gently knocked on my family’s door but left empty handed. He promised to come back and take what was owed to him, to shatter our lives into billions of pieces. Death is the one guy you wish never kept his promises. However, this was also the first time I realized you don’t ever have to be grateful in the face of tragedy. Even though the doctors predicted a much earlier return from the tumor, I rejected the temptation of feeling “lucky” that I had a dad for 10 years versus two. Fuck that. I wanted a lifetime.
There are lots of other firsts I can recall. My first geek fandom (Gotta’ catch ‘em all, right?). My first inklings of queerness (thanks Charmed!). My first time successfully riding a bike (not until I was 22 years old!). What I can’t pin down, though, is the first time I noticed I wasn’t existing at my fullest potential. I’ve come to this conclusion many times in my life. I think we all do—sometimes under circumstances we can’t control, but mostly I think we just aren’t giving ourselves enough credit. We keep holding ourselves back due to fear, shame, or the possibility of regret. This year, I resolve to try harder, to allow myself space and time to succeed (and fail). I’ve been talking about how I want to get back into writing, into sharing my thoughts with others, into embracing vulnerability through creativity and art. So, I’m here to stop talking and start typing this first post to my new blog.
Cheers to Firsts that won’t be Lasts!