I walked into the room and stopped short. I had arrived at a volunteer event, and I realised I didn't recognise anyone. A couple of girls were gathered near me in a semi-circle, so I introduced myself to them.
"I don't want this to sound creepy," one of the girls said, "but I already know who you are." I laughed, assuming she was a mutual friend of someone I knew. I waited to hear the connection, but there was none.
"I've actually been following you on Instagram for a while," she continued. "You came up as a suggestion one day, and you looked like a person who's honest and relatable... So I started reading your blog."
I was a little taken aback. Flattered, yes. But also afraid. I felt the pressure. I was standing there in front of a stranger who already knew some of my most real and flawed moments. Someone who knew about my autism and anxiety and temptations and struggles. Would I come across in person the same way I presented myself online? The more I've written over the last year, the less confident I've been to share publicly. Every few months I open up my blog, sift through a dozen blog posts I have waiting to be posted, and log off again. I catch myself wondering if it's worth putting myself out there, because what if you don't relate to something I've written? What if I'm too honest and I offend you? What if something I write just flops?
And as I began to chat to this girl I'd only just met, I realised I've lost sight of why I write.
I write for the girls who message saying they've battled with sexual temptation for years and didn't know how to talk about it.
I write for the person I went to middle school with, who reached out after 10 years and opened up about their struggle with anxiety.
I write for the man who read my post and emailed to say he never realised how street harassment was still an issue for girls.
I write for the people who message and say "I think I might be autistic too", or the ones who admit they haven't always understood and want to do better.
And mostly? I write for the girl I used to be, who felt alone and misunderstood until she read stories of other people who got it.
That's what stories do. They connect us.
And that's whats I hope the stories I share will do.
So hey, friends. I'm back to writing. Without the pressure, just for the love it.
And if, through all of it, it's just one person I connect with?
It'll be worth it.