There are 47 million blogs at WordPress.com and every single one has a unique story to tell. Today, we’re proud to introduce you to WordPress.com blogger Matt, the man behind Must Be This Tall To Ride, a hilarious and often poignant chronicle of his life as a single divorced father. Matt took some time out to talk to us about where he gets his ideas, how he came up with the witty name for his site, and what blogging has meant to him.
How did you get started blogging?
Last April 1, my wife packed a suitcase and moved away forever. April Fools’ Day. Fitting. Her new boyfriend was a big shot. Tall. Successful. Rich. And I was just…me. Dumped. A nobody. And not just any nobody. An emotionally wrecked nobody who cried. What woman is going to ever date a dude who cries?
I felt really small. I tried online dating a month after she left. Because I make bad decisions. I’m 5’9”. I’m 34. I’m graying. I’m a dad. Basically all of the things women AREN’T looking for. Woot.
All the online-dating profiles — no matter how short in stature the women were — wanted tall guys. She was 5’2”. But she’d only date men taller than six feet. One time, I wrote one of these Match girls with the subject line: “Must Be This Tall To Ride.”
I smirked. A metaphor for my entire life. Not good enough. Not tall enough. Not smart enough. Not rich enough. Not funny enough. Two weeks later, I launched the blog, charting a new course. A single, divorced guy who made a bunch of bad decisions to get here. And spends every day exploring all the ways I can metaphorically be tall enough. A few people get it. And we’re all walking the path together. Trying to be better today than we were yesterday.
You’ve gone through some serious stuff in your life. Has blogging helped you cope through turmoil? How?
Divorce has defined my life from age four through this very moment. Trying to keep two parents happy 500 miles apart. And now, my own divorce. Feeling like a failure. Like a crappy father every time my young son vocalizes his desire for mommy and daddy to live together again. He deserves better than this.
Blogging has helped immensely. This is my therapy. This is my couch. And the readers listen. They’re amazing. Providing feedback. Providing concern. Providing support.
Blogging helps in the same ways as talking to my friends. Only I’m even more honest with readers than I am with people I speak with.
I embarrass easily, and even though I occasionally scare myself with the things I type, I tend to be much more forthcoming at the keyboard than I am face-to-face. It’s good to be honest. To unload some of that baggage. You tell stories people identify with. Then you find out dozens, hundreds, thousands of people feel just like you.
When I couldn’t breathe. When everything just felt…wrong. The thing that helped most was the realization that someone else knows the same pain. Sure, your married friends all feel bad for you. But they don’t get it. They don’t. But others? With the same pain? With the same scars?
What is the best thing that has happened to you as the result of writing your blog?
The human connections have been amazing. Emotionally? Spiritually? These people saved my life. But selfishly speaking? Writing has given me purpose again.
When it all breaks? When there’s no more family? That purpose follows them out the door, too. Bye purpose! Sorry I wasn’t good enough for you either!
This blog has given me something to do. It filled a void. It gave me something to love once I didn’t have a partner. And it gave me something to distract me from just how loud all the silence in my home had become.
Where do you get your ideas?
The thing that makes me pee my pants a little is my fear of running out of ideas. I often write during my lunch hour at work. I can get a little panicky when noon’s approaching and I have no idea what I’m going to post about that day. I usually luck out somehow and think of something last-minute.
But mostly I keep a running list of post ideas. It’s always shorter than I want it to be. I’ve only had a week’s worth of post ideas one time in seven months of doing this. It’s my biggest weakness as a blogger.
I like telling stories from my past. I like telling stories about what’s happening in my life right now. I like encouraging people struggling in marriage and life. And sometimes, I just like to goof off.
I don’t always succeed, but my goal is for the stories to always have a very human element. To have heart. To make people feel something.
What’s your advice to bloggers who are just getting started?
I don’t know that I’m in any position to be offering blogging advice. I don’t know if what I’m doing has merit. That’s for others to decide. And I also don’t know that I believe there’s a right or wrong way to do this.
But what would I tell a new blogger?
Make sure your soul lives in the words. Because I want to know you. As my favorite writer James Altucher would say: Always be as honest as you can without hurting other people. And if you’re not a little scared to hit that blue Publish button, you’re probably not trying hard enough.
You said you want to know these bloggers through their writing. What about you? Who are you?
A guy who does a lousy job keeping up with bills and cleaning the house.
A guy who failed at marriage. Who has trouble getting dates. Who often lacks the courage to talk to women. Who is afraid of being a lousy father. Who is afraid of people he knows in real life finding out just how weak and scared and flawed he is.
But that’s really the entire point of this. There are billions of us. Nobodies. We all want the same things. We’re all afraid of the same things. We just want to be happy.
That looks and feels different for each one of us.
And I want to tell stories that make people think and feel. I want to remind them they’re not alone. I want to encourage them to be hopeful in their individual pursuits of happiness.
Tomorrow is another opportunity to choose ourselves. To grow.
Because at the end of all this, I really want to be tall enough to ride.