Yearbook vol. 1

The making of a year

(big shout out to Rookie Mag, the original yearbook inspo)

This is newsletter 12 which means we have, for 12 months, one year, spent our first Fridays here. A year is an interesting place to arrive at. Something about history, something about the beginning and the end meeting at a single point. The circular roundabout way we return to where we came from and find we are different from when we began. If anything, this newsletter chronicles just how different we can become from one month to the next. If you don’t mind, I’d like to look back. 

I’m a little ahead of myself. A year ago today, the newsletter was a secret between me and my therapist. The first edition really went out November 6th. But, to me, it has been a year and that’s what I’m celebrating. When people say it’s hard to chase a dream I think what they really mean is it’s hard to let yourself have it. And you might not anticipate this to be the difficult part but it is. In my first newsletter I wrote “At some point in my life, I had attributed change to be a concrete form we take on instead of the sometimes conscious conversations we have with our past selves. Or even so, change I believed was something that happened to us more often than it was something we decided to do.” I had this idea that being a writer was something I would be granted or I would be plucked from the ocean of other aspiring people and given a position that allowed me to say I’m a writer. I learned the anatomy of a dream isn’t the givings of others, but the transformation and embodiment of the self.

So change happened. So change continues to happen. I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve figured out how to properly pace a personal column. I’ve figured out what works, what I like, and I’ve let go of what didn’t. I’m also still learning how to do it, learning how to deal with the anxiety of talking to 1800 people and not feeling like a fraud. Learning how to plan ahead. Learning how to hold a dream in your hands and figure out what to do with it. 

I started this newsletter with a protective boundary which made attempting to be a writer much easier for me. I let myself allow failure as a possibility, in fact, I told you all to anticipate it. The terrifying part of dreaming is eventually you will have to leave its safety. Eventually, a dream doesn’t happen to you, you pursue it. As this long yet fast year comes to an end I’ve felt I’ve been chasing the comet’s tail of my dream across the universe, only to find suddenly I’ve been chasing myself. So to say I am the streak of light. I’m coasting, working out which direction we will go and I can go anywhere. My dream is this, my dream is here. I’m overwhelmed and terrified and nonetheless ready to do what I have to do. Mostly I feel such a strong sense of gratitude that to sit down and write this has felt as impossible as it felt a year ago. In some ways, it even felt easier to begin than it feels right now to continue.

To give a brief and quick history, my goal a year ago was 100 followers. I figured my closest friends and family could handle a hodgepodge email once a month the way I could handle making it. The newsletter on change went out to 42 people. To gain 58 emails seemed in some ways like a difficult and doable task. One that would fill my year. I hoped by the 12th newsletter I could reach this goal. I had a steady 50 emails in December. January 3rd I made my second ever tik tok which today has 134,100 likes, 1,203 comments, and 3,265 shares. I ended up surpassing my 100 followers goal and landing on 134. I was enamored. 50 people imagined in a room felt like a lot, but 134 felt like too many. I struggled to write because suddenly the audience wasn’t recognizable, there were strangers looking for me in their inbox. The incline kept going in leaps and bounds. I had changed my goal to 500. In March I jumped from 376 followers to 953. 

I have stopped setting goals in this vein. You realize rather quickly how much you love a dream. How little you would keep it up for. If those same 42 people were the only ones reading it I would keep at it. I would be just as sentimental as I am now. There is no number that satiates me quite like the very first. Anything after that has been a gift, a luxury. All of you are a gift to me. Sometimes celebrities stand up at the podium to accept an award and say “thank you to the fans.” I thought this was a courteous somewhat insincere way of acknowledgment. I understand its sincerity now. I’m not saying I’m a celebrity in the slightest, but I get that desire to say anything, even something small. How do you capture such a gratitude for the people who let you get to do what you’ve wanted to do? Words feel impossible, even for me. The only thing you really can say is thank you. So thank you. Whether you’ve been here forever, whether our time together is brief, even fleeting. If you stay today and leave tomorrow or next year you get the yearbook again I notice you.

There’s the poem, Great things Have Happened by Alden Nowlan. The speaker and friends are trying to name amazing things that happened in their lifetime. First, they say the moon landing, but realize they are lying. The greatest things were the odd ends of life, the bad apartment they had the tea they made. I reminisce too. I went paid on substack, had my first ever purchase with my writing earned money. I got hired as a freelance writer and editor. I was interviewed for blogs and other such things. Yes, those feel good, but what was great? Liz who saw me at St. Dymphnas and approached to tell me she was an English major too. The 17-year-old who talked with me about the fears of turning 18 after I admitted I was scared to turn 24. The emails from the beginning sent by Tora who told me Jenny Slate and I would be good friends. The endless scroll I do on tik tok of people who are also smart, funny, drunk, kind, and totally in love with themselves. They wear bright colors, smile widely, they celebrate themselves just because they want to. Yes, great things have happened. 

What else is there to say? It’s been a  year. We entered the forgotten year of 2020 and did our best to remember. We had our own continuous act of losing. We took note of the interior design of being here, found out here was a perfectly fine place to rest a while. We turned 24, saw time marching, felt everything was ending, and decided to let it be a beginning. From these new vantage points, we found out how to say farewell, to the people we couldn’t be and wished them well in another universe, another lifetime. We acknowledged, too, the people we’ve been. The ones we were, who did their best, but hurt us just the same. We said sorry, then we said the only thing we could to them: I forgive you. When the longest light beam graced the summer solstice skies we celebrated everything, but mostly we celebrated ourselves. We felt joy for no other reason than we wanted to. We learned how to be a better friend, how to show up in the present and say how can I be better for you? It helped us accept we existed, people could see us, miss us. Sometimes too we grieved. We lost things and we felt the hopelessness of it in the hopes walking through it brought us to the other side. It did. Sometimes we felt old other times we felt young, life is so long we discovered and we tried not to be afraid of it. We admitted we were a little mediocre, not so curated, a heap of contradictory things all worth leaning into, all worth enjoying because sometimes too life is short. When we blasted glee songs and read grocery store romance novels expecting taunting we found out actually the world is kind. In fact, we found out kindness is so subtle and so ordinary. 

Most importantly, we changed. We got better, we grew up, we decided to be one thing instead of being the other. We changed together, we changed apart. The person I was a year ago might be shocked to learn I didn’t even once fail or falter. So we’re back at the beginning. What next? Though this newsletter is ending it doesn’t mean you have to stop your reminiscing. I’m not finished either. Sure, I have some stuff for us planned. But for now, I’m gonna take a moment. I mean look at what we’ve done, look at where we are! I don’t know about you, but I think we’re doing pretty good.

I’ve always been a big fan of personality quizzes. This was the first thing I decided to do when contemplating the yearbook. As a way to capture the essence of each newsletter and reminisce but also as something fun to do. And to be honest I am dying to find out what you guys get so please tag me or DM me……….plz….(trying not to sound too much like an influencer.)

Take the quiz HERE

I thought a lot about this quote as the newsletters continue to pile up. Specifically when I wrote about goodbyes. I was nervous I wrote essentially the same thing over and over again. Yet to remember this quote offered me some comfort, in essence. Not that I write the same essay over and over, but that I have my own obsessions. Or as I call them: Love Languages.

“But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone By Lori Gottlieb.

When I began this newsletter, I was reading this book. It prompted me to think about how I could change, rather than the world could. It is the force acting upon me which changed my trajectory. It moved me. It demolished me and thus I was able to come here. It all began here. So I figured too it should end with this as well.

I wanna stay on the subway and ride it to the very end listening to a song that we never listened to together, but nonetheless makes me think of you just the same.

September 29th, 2021 8:19 PM

But love is asking each other to understand, to meet in the middle of communication and say I get what you mean.

September 21st, 2021 12:29 AM

This was something we used to do, but got rid of. I’m bringing it back just for old times sake. The idea was, I give you the questions I contemplated this month for you to answer. Considering the column usually answers a question. I was thinking of one question I think I would love for you all to answer, whether to me or to yourself.

  1. What did you do this year that you are proud of?

No qualifications needed, no explanation, no well it wasn’t that big. Take a moment and be proud you need no excuse. I bet you did something spectacular.

We are coming to the end. I’ve been thanking you all to no end, but I have a few people I want to thank specifically. This is no particular order.

Kelly: Thank you for all the celebrations, milestones, Wednesdays filled with cake and balloons. Thank you for being there when things were rocky and I HAD to do my 15 minutes of engagement before and after posting on Instagram. You made this more special and fun than I ever could on my own.

Ava: Thank you for reading, sharing, offering your help, telling me you loved it. Your cover-to-cover banner-to-banner attention gives me shame. I love you and it is so big that I don’t even know what else to say. So let me just leave it at that.

Avery: Thank you for your monthly text telling me you cried. I look forward to your tears more and more as the months go on. And I’m not sorry!

Amanda, Margaret, Grace, Olivia, Megan, Maria, Gina, and Maddie: Thank you for your individual dedication to sharing my work, laughing with me, reading aloud, reading alone, and being here, together. To all the months we were forced apart and the years we are forced together because I couldn’t imagine life without you. You’re a safety net for the bad days and if I can count on anyone it’s all of you to remind me I’m a person in the world.

Emily: Thank you for searching your name in each newsletter, for letting me interview you, for the nights we collage when I am in a mental slump. Thank you for making art with my words and making my world a funnier more relaxed place. Three years ago, nearly four, when we met in the FiDi seaport and I overshared my whole life little did I know what wonders were then beginning.

Daniela: Thank you for being an internet friend, one of the first investors of the chloe in letters legacy brand. Thank you for your DMs, your shares, your astrology knowledge, and our talks via Instagram about spirituality, art, and the future which made it seem like we were gonna really do it. Just look where we are! exactly where we said we’d be: writing, publishing, supporting each other. Your first interview with me was the start of my writing career.

Keil and Tess: thank you for your creative expertise, business savvy suggestions, and all-around continuous support and inspiration. You have been a savior when I needed it (such as April when I was in a slump). Many people have good families but you both make ours great.

Grandpa, Jane, mom, dad: thank you for reading but most of all thank you for years ago way before I was 20 before I was even in college, when you encouraged me to do this. It is hard to be a writer, hard to feel like you can do it and you guys remind me that I can, that at the very least four people will read it and tell me so.

Lastly for Bart. Thank you for matching with me on Hinge and subscribing to this newsletter and not unsubscribing. I have no idea if you read this or send them straight to the trash can, but if you’re still single we should get a drink sometime.

I’m no good with playlists so hers the chaotic yearbook vol. 1 of every song I included or mentioned throughout the year. You can dance you can cry you can scream from the rooftops all in one playlist.

The newsletter mood board waits for you here as well as the now completed vol. 1 archive of all previous Pinterest boards. Summarized and memorialized.

That’s all this month! If you enjoyed the little conversation we had let me know! Save +share your favorite parts and tag @chloeinletters

My Instagram is @chloeinletters where the DMs are checked, cared, and loved for. 

My Goodreads where I sometimes write reviews but keep updated is right here where more of my library is contained as far as books go. 

My website is where you can check out my portfolio and contact me 

My email, if you want to cut to the chase, is letterstochloew@gmail.com where you can let me know what you think or ask me a question about what you saw here! 

Here’s to Starbucks Fridays, a year of change, to you, to us.

Love always,

Chloé

Ps. Next Friday my paid newsletter comes out with exclusive content. For 5$ feel free to join me. If not no worries, we’ll still see each other soon!