If you'd told me that a piece of my identity I created for myself in seventh grade would still exist, I'd probably be very concerned. Looking back, I don't trust my preteen taste.As of today, I've been running Words Like Silver for eight years, and finding the words to describe how I feel is difficult. I want to articulate how much this little blog has gone through, and how amazed I am that it's still one of my favorite pieces of my life. Some years, I let the anniversary pass with little fanfare. Other years, like this one, call for a bit more reflection.Eight years is two student generations. High school, college. So much change that it's comforting to know I have a constant -- something that I exclusively do and work for, that external circumstances can't affect.Despite evolving interests, I am a reader and a writer at heart.It's not that I thought it wouldn't last, when it started. I was in seventh grade though, and started a post-midnight project (as one does), and never expected it to shape so much of my identity.But I'm proud. I've built this site from the ground up, expanded it into a lot of different creative functions and places, and kept it going regardless of what I have going on. I've built a loyal following of readers, a curated aesthetic, and a fierce gratitude for all that's worth loving (and talking about.) And reading continues to be a foundation for me.If you're just popping in to see what's going on today on the blog, welcome, and happy birthday to Words Like Silver! If you're sticking around for my reflection, I have a lot of thoughts on how far it's come.When I started this blog in seventh grade, I was just looking for an outlet.I'd been frustrated, both with feeling like I didn't relate to those around me (a little middle school misery for you) and in being lumped in with my identical twin sister, despite having divergent interests. I'm a passionate person, and that was extremely draining. Most people didn't take me seriously when I talked about my passions because of my age.Additionally, I credit "the twin thing" for a lot more than I used to, because it caused my desire to forge an identity that was solely mine, not related to somebody else. (Even now, I hate when people view us as two halves of one whole, or frame me in relation to Hannah.)I'm still excruciatingly shy -- the quiet twin, always. I'm still intensely driven. Those aspects of my personality haven't changed, but having something that I've built gives me a lot more confidence and the freedom to be independent. (Although having an excuse to hide behind a book or a camera doesn't do much for the introversion.)In 2012, the blog became real when I had a blog post get some traction in the book world and suddenly started getting involved in the publishing industry. I met a lot of people who helped me to develop my voice more and get involved in the behind-the-scenes. Started caring about upcoming years' titles and not just the books that had been on my shelves for ages.I started editing manuscripts, talking to authors, created buzz for upcoming titles, and even helped out with the formation of some elements that made it into real books. (I'm nothing like the main character of this book, but my answers and interviews helped the author to create a blogger teen, and I appreciate having helped with something so tangible.)The blog has never been huge, but I'm affectionate towards the small, loyal community of readers that I have, and I love it so much. I love the feeling of somebody telling me they found a new favorite book because of a post, or getting sucked into a conversation about a book we've both read.My teen years passed. I read a ton. Started moderating a book club for teenagers in my hometown. Worked at a bookstore.I edited a book that made it onto shelves. Saw books published that I'd seen as Publishers Weekly book deals. Advanced copies I'd had hitting the bestseller lists, being turned into movies. Attended conferences and panels and events. Wrote some myself. I thought I'd work in publishing, and although that perspective has now changed, it's responsible for a lot of my growth.Even now, the scope of the history I have with the publishing industry feels surreal, and having my creativity/intensity validated was something I'd needed then.It had always been a hobby rather than a pursuit, but WLS influenced nearly every sphere of my life. I met some of my best friends through blogging (either directly through comments or online interactions, or because it was a reason they recognized me later.) Instead of being a Smith twin, exclusively, I was also "book girl."In 2016, I went to a tiny college (which I'm still attending!) and the blog was the reason I felt comfortable talking to people -- because everyone had shamelessly online stalked each other before heading off to Lexington, and it was an easy way to introduce myself. (In fact, I met one of my best friends when he went up to me the first night and told me I had a typo on my most recent post.) As the years passed and stressors changed, reading felt more like a luxury and I appreciated the ability to be able to sink into a read and widen my perspective.Reading has always been a way for me to keep ahold of my identity. To root myself to what I believe in, and what I love. Escapism or inspiration.One of my favorite quotes by Pablo Neruda captures it well, how much I just love sharing my interests.
“Take it all back. Life is boring, except for flowers, sunshine, your perfect legs. A glass of cold water when you are really thirsty. The way bodies fit together. Fresh and young and sweet. Coffee in the morning. These are just moments. I struggle with the in-betweens. I just want to never stop loving like there is nothing else to do, because what else is there to do?”