I woke up this morning to an email from LinkedIn, congratulating me for 10 years as Founder of The Enthusiast. Wow. I've been doing this for 10 whole years: announcing my life and interests with complete strangers on the internet. An entire decade of enthusiasm shared with the world! Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this wild journey. To celebrate, here is a rough history of The Enthusiast. Here's to the next 10 years!
Birth: January 2011
In January 2011, a 15-year-old girl started a blog called Teenage Enthusiasm. I had to obtain permission from my parents to do this. From a young age I had written stories (I self-published a book in 2015) and needed a new outlet for writing. Blogging seemed like a fun way to create community and share the overflowing thoughts of my teenage brain. With a London-themed background, of course. It brought me a lot of joy. Many of my early posts were about the books I was reading in English class or the conversations I was having with friends. I will always be a chatty person who loves to share what's on my mind, and this blog became my outlet. Who would have thought it would grow to be what it is now?
The day I was Freshly Pressed is one of my strongest memories. If you aren't familiar, WordPress does a segment called Freshly Pressed where they share favourite articles from WordPress sites. A few months into my blogging adventure, Teenage Enthusiasm was Freshly Pressed for the first time. Willy Loman Inspired This was a teenager's bucket list based on a literary masterpiece, but a lot of people resonated with what I had to say. The writing is terrible (I had just turned 16) but it's so interesting to me to see what has or hasn't changed in the last decade. New York City is not in my game plan anymore, but I still want to live in London. I'm so honored to have shared such a special moment in my writing career with all those people, and really thankful to whoever at WordPress thought my words were worth sharing.
Freshly Pressed Again
Oh you thought that was it? Nope, a year later my life was changed again. I was on a school trip in Europe, sitting in our Belgian hotel lobby eating a croissant, when I checked my blog stats. And they were soaring! My Blogging Rules had been Freshly Pressed! I recognize this comes off as very self-indulgent bragging, but I was 17 and this was by far the most exciting thing that had happened to me. Ever. To be a semi-successful blogger as a minor was a huge deal to me, and blogging was giving the fame seeker in me a boost. Most of this memory is blocked by the amazing time I had in Belgium, but it wouldn't be the history of The Enthusiast without including this milestone. A lot of what helped continue my interest in blogging was seeing the increase of readers interact with what I had to offer.
How to Get Boys to Like You Series
Now for the most embarrassing thing I am known for: giving love advice on the internet. And I'll start it by saying that my dad once said, "Why are you giving love advice? You've never kissed a boy." Leave it to your parents to humble you.
This series started because I had a huge crush on the boy who sat in front of me in my chemistry class (I see the humour there too). Because I blog my thoughts, I wrote a semi-serious post called How to Get a Boy to Like You (Without Him Noticing). As you can imagine, this blew up with other teenage girls who had crushes on boys. Why I became the messiah of boy knowledge I will never know, but it inspired a 3-part series on boy knowledge. I have dated several guys since writing this series, but I do stick with most of this advice still. Maybe 16-year-old me was actually good at this?
My favourite part of the series was Part 3: How to Tell if a Boy Likes You (And Other Real Boy Advice). I lived in a co-ed dorm and was close with a lot of the men. Everyone knew I wrote articles, and one night we sat in a huge circle and they answered the dozens of questions I got each week. I still don't know when guys are into me, but that evening in our dorm common room was one of the highlights of my freshman year.
Also - yes, I do still get emails from girls asking for boy advice. This was an unexpected consequence.
New Name, Who Dis?
As I grew out of being a teenager, I realized that Teenage Enthusiasm was not who I was anymore. I was in college, nearing my twentieth birthday, I was not a teenager anymore. Thus "The Enthusiast" came to light, along with a new blog design and so many hours spent choosing a new platform. The blog content is still self-indulgent enthusiasms and skincare reviews, but with an adult edge.
Obtaining a Sponsorship (Pinch Me)
I maintain that I am a blogger, not an influencer. This space is to share with I am into, not to bombard with paid sponsorships. But, my first partnership in 2017 with a brand was very exciting. It was with Formula 10.0.7 (my go-to skincare brand back then) and I had so much fun coming up with product photoshoots. I don't do many sponsorships now, but I never felt as cool as when I was working with a brand.
Going on Hiatus
And this is where the blog changed a lot. In 2018 I hit my breaking point. I was at a job that sucked the soul of me every day and in my free time was helping out a friend working as Communications Leader for a conference. The joy I used to find blogging had turned into a commitment I didn't enjoy. I went on hiatus to stop bursting into tears every night. It stunk because blogging is part of who I am, but sometimes we have to give up the fun stuff to get on track. A new job and new extracurricular commitments helped and I returned to blogging a few months later.
Losing and Finding My Voice
When I returned to blogging, something felt off. Where I used to thrive off of posting one or more times a week, I could barely sit down and write something. To this day I feel the same way. Some weeks are more difficult to write content than others. I think the boom of influencer culture and churning out content every day created a pressure I hadn't experienced when I began in 2011. After struggling with this for months and bringing myself down on not writing, I made a pact with myself. Only put out content you feel good about. So yeah, some weeks there isn't a post, but what I am posting I feel good about. There isn't bad stress associated with the blog. And while 2021 is the year I'm hoping to post more, I am here to use my voice joyfully, not be a content pusher.
It feels like no time has passed at all, but doing this history reminds me that so much has happened! Not only did I grow up (teenager to twentysomething) but my life transformed with this blog. It's part of my story. 10 years ago I was an unsure teenager who wanted people to hear her voice. And now I am more confident in myself, my abilities, and my impact on the world because of the experience the internet has awarded me. I'm still fighting to eventually make this blog a full-time thing (is anyone into that?) but until then I'm going to enjoy this journey. Happy 10th anniversary The Enthusiast - I am so proud of us!
Now who's staying for the 20th anniversary?
Stay classy y'all - Morgan