I haven’t logged into B&B in months. I haven’t checked Google Analytics. I’ve responded to exactly zero partnership emails. I’ve written exactly zero posts myself since November 10, 2021. It’s January 13, 2022. I’ve published no YouTube videos since October 10th. My last podcast episode released on July 19th.
So basically, for once in my life, I sort of stfu. I got quiet, truly quiet across these platforms, for the first time since launching Blondes & Bagels back in 2015.
I thought the next time I sat down at the screen, pulled the keyboard forward, and broke open a new draft I’d write to you all about how much I’ve missed Blondes & Bagels. I’m back bitches! I’ve taken breaks before. So it’s not totally unusual for me to give myself a bit of a breather. That’s all I needed. A bit of a breather.
When I step back and take a pause, I never expect to miss all of my work. Because don’t let anyone fool you – this is work. It’s unrealistic to miss every inch of the process. I don’t know if you know this, but search engine optimization is about as dry as a brut champagne. So no, I didn’t expect to miss all of it. Even when you love something there are parts you don’t love. Even your passions take work.
What I didn’t expect was to miss so little of it. What I didn’t expect was, when I stood back and looked not in the mirror but at all my posts, all my platforms, all my campaigns – how little of it felt like it resonated with my soul. How even the “creative” aspects like writing felt like I wasn’t doing it in a way that serviced anything other than trying to sell you all something you don’t need. Sometimes that means products. Sometimes it’s a lifestyle. The partnerships and campaigns you saw me do in 2021 were the only ones that resonated with me as a person. That’s why my income from brand sponsorships in 2021 was like, 1/20th of what it was in years like 2019. I could lie to you and tell you it was strategic. It wasn’t. It was me letting myself feel. It was me opening up partnership emails and asking myself what good am I doing for anyone by promoting this? And most of the time the answer was absolutely nothing.
So yes, part of what drove me to take a step back not just from partnerships, but from the whole shabang at the end of 2021 was that I had been battling with some of the ethics of “influencing” via my platforms behind the scenes the entire year. But that was only one fraction of it.
I changed. Or rather, I think I changed back.
I’ve questioned putting this down on “paper” anywhere for a few reasons. One thought is I don’t want to discredit the last like, nine years of my life. So much of it was valid. And so much of it was really happy. So that’s not what this is about at all.
The other, bigger thought is that I’m worried about what all the people I’ve made part of my life for the last nine years will think when reading this. Because, at the end of the day, it’s no one’s “fault” that I drifted away from myself. There’s no blame to place on any one person, any group of people. I’m trying to be less into blaming lately, but if I had to do it again – the only one to blame here is myself.
I let myself forget about so many of the things I love. I relegated myself to only singing in the car or in the shower. It’s why I so obsessively reach for the USB cord in my husband’s car because it’s only in those ten minute drives to the farmers market that I get to belt out all the things I’ve been feeling for the last few days. I let myself give away my guitar. Because who has the time? I let myself toss out my cleats, my shin guards, my socks. Because I was never going to play professionally, so why play soccer at all? I let myself forget about how reading fiction used to make me feel. Late nights under the covers with a book light, crying when characters died. Days in my butterfly chair where the hours passed and physically I was in Redding, California. But really I was hiking mountains shaped like God’s thumb and learning how to transfigure animals into water goblets.
I also let myself project a version of me to others that I wish I’d never allowed to get as out of hand as it did. I let myself sit at bars and clubs and pregames that made me so uncomfortable on a primal level that I could still feel my skin crawling for no less than two days later. I’m not unaware of what that likely looked to someone from the outside. The one “not having fun.” The one who can’t let loose, can’t let go. The troll. The crab apple. Kelsey’s always got a complaint. I did. I often do. Usually because I’m so shittily trying to navigate my own discomfort in a public space that I project so many versions of me that don’t really feel like me at all. Or at least, it’s not the me I wish people got to see the most often.
Instead I dragged myself to places, hated it, and then convinced everyone I was that person. Some people noticed. Some people said things. Some people meant the commentary seriously. Others were only teasing and loved me despite the fact that I’m the wettest blanket ever made. But the cold hard fact is I’ve had diarrhea in every bar bathroom and house party I’ve been to since 2014. Sometimes I talked about it out loud (a lot – because often vocalizing helps reduce stress for me). Sometimes I talked about it not at all. But years later I’m only now asking myself why I let myself be so at war with me. My body had known all along what was really right for me. It tried to tell me. All those environments made me so stressed that when my brain forced my body to go somewhere because it was the “socially appropriate” thing to do – my body was screaming to just fucking listen. Listen to me. I’m making you sick so that maybe you’ll listen.
We don’t belong here. You don’t actually like this. Just because you’re supposed to like this, doesn’t mean you do. And that’s okay.
I’ve spent a lot of my life tucking away truths and realities about myself and who I am as a person. Not just from you. From me. I did it in the name of being the most armored version of myself possible. I also did it in the name of pleasing other people. Even if at the end of the day they weren’t always pleased. I’ve always loved projecting unwavering confidence. I was doing it at 15 and I was still doing it at 29. I’m loud. I take up space. I do it just to make sure you all know that I have no doubts about myself. Kelsey is confident, she’s sure, she knows what she wants (and sure as fuck knows what she doesn’t). I wore all these traits like medals of honors, awards, as if there was some prize for it all at the end of the day.
I don’t think I was fooling as many people as I thought I was. Especially not the people closest to me. They saw me question everything. One of my most used phrases is, “gut check.” Because that’s what I’ve done all the damn time. I couldn’t trust my own not just opinions, but my own wants and desires in life, enough to not gut check them with someone else. By the time I ever lobbed a “gut check” over the fence at one of my friends they’d chuckle and ask if this was my new flavor of the month. Sourdough bread. Baking. Reading. Launching a line of scarves. Tiny tattoos. Kelsey “gut checks” something and then throws herself in entirely. I don’t get one tattoo. I get five.
I started getting self conscious that I was being viewed as impulsive or even obsessive. And now what I’ve realized is that I’ve denied myself doing things without the “gut check” or permission from others first for so long that by the time I go to loop anyone in, the reality is I’ve been thinking about doing said activity for years. It’s only when I’m bursting at the seams with a desire that I finally 1) ask anyone but myself for permission and 2) make the plan to do it. And then I make those plans and execute them so quickly because I’m afraid I’ll talk myself off the ledge. I’ll never take the jump my body is clearly itching to take.
Sometimes I lay awake at night and think about all the jumps I never took.
I’ve never actually allowed myself the simple but underrated pleasure of wanting something and taking it for myself. Without questioning first. Without polling around for opinions. Without caring about those opinions. Without wondering if I’m about to fail or do something “wrong.” I’m highly sensitive. And now that I’ve dropped all that pretense about giving no fucks, I can finally embrace I give so many fucks that some days it feels almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning.
I’m sure all this seems random and unrelated to B&B. But it’s not. It’s that I created these platforms at a time when I was on a journey away from myself. And now I’ve returned. So B&B feels all sorts of wrong lately.
I bought a guitar. I finished 2021 having read 106 fiction books. I got my first tattoo in December. I’m researching voice lessons, dance studios, even adult soccer leagues. I started writing again, but not because it was part of my business or for SEO. I wrote fiction for the first time ever. I let myself cry without apologizing for it or trying to swallow it back before the tears hit the surface. I stopped getting angry at my body every time I felt my stomach lurch. I stopped saying “I wish I wasn’t this way.” Because I am this way. Instead I said, “Hey, it’s okay, dude. Tell me what’s wrong.” And then I actually listened.
And it felt fucking good.
Since launching Blondes & Bagels in 2015, 585,000 users have visited my blog. My YouTube videos have been viewed 418,000 times. My brief stint podcasting lead to 2,300 downloads. I even made money doing it all. What would’ve been considered a full-time income at one point. I’ve worked with international brands. I’ve attended multiple New York Fashion Weeks. I’ve been featured in the New York Times. I’ve met and worked with so many unbelievably talented people. The fact is that if someone went back in time and told a thirteen year old Kelsey about all the things she’d do a decade later, little me would love to meet her. She’d love to meet me. She’d be really proud. I am really proud.
I know this sounds like a goodbye. A thinly veiled breakup text. It’s not you, it’s me. LOL Doesn’t it suck that sometimes that cliché is the actual truth?
I’m not shutting down Blondes & Bagels. I’m not going to stop paying for my domains, close down my YouTube channel, etc. I’ve built too much. And my god, so many of you are now a literal DAILY part of my life. We DM. We email. We connect. It’s not that I want to burn it all to the ground. It’s that I want to plant some different seeds and see what grows from them. I just haven’t figured out what seeds I’m planting yet.
Specifically to someone I used to call “Doctor” every other Friday at noon, but today I’ll just call Shelley. I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I feel the most me I’ve ever felt and it’s because of you.
I have no idea what you’ll see from me. At all. Fuck, I have no idea what I’ll see from me. But wow, for the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to find out.
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