I want to be completely honest with all of you: this is the hardest post I’ve had to write, and I would be lying if I told you that I’m fine and happy to see this come to an end. I’m a school counselor, and I tell my students that it’s okay to not be okay right now. Although I am proud and honored to have been a member of the TN family for the last five years, it hurts my heart to know that That’s Normal will be a part of my past and not my future. That I won’t have this space to be something other than Julie the aunt, Julie the teacher, Julie the school counselor. I’m not okay right now, but that’s okay.
Because that’s how much this site and all of you who are reading this have meant to me. In 2015, I wrote about reaching my scary age (It was 35 and now at 39, I want to punch myself in the throat for thinking that was my scary age. Oh, naive, foolish 35 year old Julie.) and I closed the post with this, and yes, I am quoting myself:
One of the reasons why I was drawn to That’s Normal was because of this sense that these were my people. Grown women blogging, expounding, dissecting everything from Outlander’s casting choices to books that didn’t require Oprah’s stamp of approval. For me, TN took the guilty out of guilty pleasures, and didn’t just make it okay to like these things – they made it normal.
This still holds true to this very day and will forever more.
Just like many of the other writers here, I was drawn to That’s Normal because of Beth and Outlander. It was 2013, I had just discovered the books when fate would have it, Starz announced the television adaptation and found their Jamie: some guy with a name I butchered so badly, I’m too embarrassed to write it phonetically. Like any other zealous fan, I immediately scoured the internet for anything and everything Outlander. That’s when I stumbled on That’s Normal.
I had finally found my village who told me that it was perfectly fine to be 34 years old and obsess over a fictional character and the man playing him. I found a place that could make me laugh, cry, and cringe without judgement or embarrassment. I found a group of talented, intelligent women that I wanted nothing more than to simply connect with and belong to, beyond being just a reader.
To this very day, I credit my best friend, Katie, for giving me the push I needed to move from a TN fan to a TN writer. In the fall of 2014, I showed her the site and before I could say anything to her or even gauge her opinion, she looked at me and said, “This sounds like you. You need to write for them.” A few days later, I sat on my couch, my laptop open before with a blank page and nothing to write about. I turned the television on for a little white noise, and so happened to stumble on the World Series. I started watching, began tweeting my own baseball “commentary,” and soon, my first post was born: Sexual Innuendo in Baseball: World Series Edition
Before I could get cold feet or have second thoughts, I attached the document to an email addressed to Bekah and Nikki, and you bet your ass I still have that email. Prepare for cringe in 3, 2, 1…
Two days later, I became a member of the That’s Normal village, and my life has never been the same.
My Time at That’s Normal
Apparently, I have 210 posts. Looking back, I really wish I could have had more because that’s how much I loved being a contributor.
I was never told, “Um, you shouldn’t write that,” or “That’s ridiculous.” I was given creative freedom and space to explore what I loved. Bekah and Nikki, along with Beth and others, allowed me to have a place to explore my voice, expound my humor, and never feel that I had to choose between being intellectual and being a pop culture savant. I could be both.
Like a Best Of album that all musicians eventually release, I took a look back at my 210 posts and here are my greatest hits:
- Highlights and Lowlights of Jamie Fraser’s Hair – The post that made me discover the Outlander’s fandom love and vitriol.
- A Literary Heartbreak: Breaking Up With a Book Series – I’ve also dumped television series, films, and musicians because I’m 100% that bitch.
- My Ultimate Fictional Boos – I will never leave these men. They are real and I am happy to announce that we all live in a polyandry home.
- Ghostbusting the Glass Ceiling – The movie wasn’t that great but I am beyond proud of this post and still stand by it.
- A Drinking Game for Christmas: The Hallmark Christmas Movie Edition – Because let’s be honest, Hallmark starting Christmas movies as early as November 1st? They want your asses to be Real Housewives wasted.
- #TeacherLife: The Stages of Summertime Sadness – This is for my fellow educators, who also hate Back to School commercials.
- Dear Bystander – This is not my most popular post but is my most passionate one.
What That’s Normal Gave Me
I could easily reminisce about my time on Hangoutlanders, moments at Comic Con and the craziness of Hall H, interviewing celebrities like Sam Heughan or high-fiving Andy Samberg.
But as we come to a close, what I am ultimately grateful for is the friendships and bonds I was blessed to create with an amazing group of women. Bekah, Nikki, Beth, Karen, Heidi, Amy, and Tiffany have become my extended family and have given me such love and support, my cup overfloweth. Thank you for the opportunities to go beyond what I thought I was capable of, to be more than just “Julie.” Thank you for the memories that I will forever cherish. Thank you for welcoming me not only at the site, but in your lives. This isn’t goodbye; it’s a “I’ll text you guys later.”
TN also gifted me with friendships with fellow writers, like Katy and Janna, who encouraged me and celebrated flying my fangirl freak flag at full mass, no matter how debased or ridiculous.
It’s because of That’s Normal that I was able to connect with others and create bonds beyond geographical constraints. That’s Normal brought me so many people that I don’t even know where to begin (If I leave you out, I’m sorry). To my #DailyParade, thank you for always supporting TN and watching every single Hangoutlander, reading our posts, and appreciating our snark. I promise to be a better Twitter friend. Thank you to Andee, who loved TN more than any of us and endured my high pitch
wailing banshee cry scream for Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s first SDCC panel.
Thank you to my BFF Katie for pushing me out of my comfort zone, for encouraging me to share my voice, for reading my drafts and posts, and being my TN cheerleader; and to my other best friend, Annette, for reading every single one of my posts, even those I’m too embarrassed to claim.
Thank you to my mom, who shared my posts to family and friends, and never once was embarrassed by what I had to say.
And thank you, the readers. Thank you for taking time out of your day, for giving me a brief space in your life; for liking, commenting, and sharing what I wrote. For making me feel that my voice mattered. I am forever grateful for the opportunity you gave me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am not okay right now, but I will be because of all of you.