Yes. I rebranded the blog. Again.
With the social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders brought on by COVID-19, I’ve thought a lot about purpose. There’s a lot of time to cross-examine every facet of your life when you’re alone with your thoughts…
What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Does it even matter? How did I even get to where I am now? Am I happy with where I am? If I’m happy, then what do I need to do to stay happy?
And if I’m not happy, then what do I need to do to move in a better direction?
My blog is one of the many things that I’ve reflected on. Why am I still doing this?
So. Let’s take it from the top, shall we?
How I Started Blogging
The journey started during my senior year of high school. This was the time when I still read the print editions of the New York Times’ fashion columns and Sunday Styles section. I started on Blogger and didn’t even know what to do with the blog—I used it to share Polyvore collages.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of undergraduate. I had a Ke$ha poster hanging in my dorm room, and sometimes wore leggings as pants if I was late to class but always wore full makeup. When I studied abroad in Oxford, I blogged every day about class excursions and local history—I learned that I could use the platform to share stories.
After Oxford, I tried sharing things more regularly. Pictures of the Rhode Island coast and local restaurants. Book reviews of chick-lit and historical fiction. Diary entries, for the most part, though. Maybe I didn’t have the most exciting stories to tell, but the blog served as a creative outlet. It felt right.
Then it was my senior year—my hair had beach blonde highlights and I was preparing for life after college. The blog refocused when I went to Paris for the first time and studied abroad there for a month. Again, I looked forward to the routine of blogging daily and sharing adventures.
I fell back into a complacent state with my blog. Staying at home didn’t seem as exciting as international travel, so it continued to serve as a creative outlet when I wanted to express something. Yes, the blog was on public view, but the purpose was really for me and no one else…
Blogging During My Recent Past
I believe that I kept a guarded perspective while I was living in France. I shared my story of adapting to the culture and building a life abroad and going on beautiful weekend escapes and vacations and devouring French food and wine… All of the good things.
Yet, in many ways, I didn’t allow myself to share too much until the experience was coming to a close. Don’t get me wrong, I shared a lot of content during my time in France— only it was carefully curated in a way that I didn’t want to expose myself.
For example, the adjustment period was hard.
I never shared the details of how one time I colorfully screamed at my boyfriend because I couldn’t seem to locate the beef in the supermarket during one of my first runs to the store alone. I had returned to the apartment with a pricey—but exquisitely prepared—roast beef.
I never talked about how I circled around Chatelet and freaked out because I didn’t know how to exit the metro turnstiles (it had been a few years since I had taken the metro and they had changed the metro tickets to include RER, they used to be separate).
I never shared how dumb I felt when I would be out with my boyfriend and his friends and didn’t understand what they were saying because they weren’t speaking in the gentle, slow pace of French video lessons that I had taken in high school or college. Sip after sip, I stood by the pool table and hopelessly listened for words that seemed familiar.
And I never shared the triumphs of when all of the social and cultural obstacles started to shrink as I became more French…ish.
Reading my posts from that period, it’s apparent that it was more difficult than I wanted to admit, but I didn’t admit it so I kept those thoughts in my head.
And, until recently, several friends thought I was still with my now ex-boyfriend.
Blogging After France and Today
I fell into another content lull after the breakup and tried focusing on living in the moment. It was a welcome break to relax during the summer, then eventually I immersed myself back into grad school while balancing a job change and working full-time. 2019 was quite a year—but who would have imagined what 2020 would look like?
Fast forward to present day and the decision to change the blog name. New England Parisienne perfectly summarizes everything that I’ve been doing all along. I’ve always held onto my identity as a New Englander (Rhode Islander, specifically) wherever I’ve gone.
It just makes more sense.
As I examine my blogging journey and look forward, there are a few things that I want to achieve with New England Parisienne:
- Share more New England content. One of the main reasons why I changed my blog name was so that it created a space to focus on another place that I love so much. I’ve realized that I haven’t shared nearly as much content as I’d like—books based in New England, more photos of Newport, and restaurants and shops to visit… The possibilities are endless.
- Try new things. At the moment of this rebrand, coronavirus is happening and everyone is (supposed to be) social distancing and traveling is (supposed to be) limited. I want to find more creative ways to engage with the blog—I’m open to suggestions.
- Drop the formal-ish tone, if only slightly. I don’t want to be all over the place, but I can let up some of the formal blocks that I’ve had in the past. The funny thing is that I’m not a formal person at all, it just comes across that way because of how I write and how I curate my content.
- … and create more content that’s more real. For years, I’ve fought to be one of those people who shares photos of themselves and leaves meaningless captions… I guess it won’t kill me to have a little more fun.
If you’ve made it through this long-winded post, thank you for reading and staying around for this journey. I hope you’re enjoying riding the wave with me!