First off, thank you so much to those of you who have completed the reader survey! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your feedback and I’m really excited to incorporate your ideas into my content and site design going forward. I’m going to leave the survey open for another week or so, so feel free to weigh in if you haven’t already!

j.crew V-neck Boyfriend sweater in everyday cashmere in mediterranean coast

*original post

One big takeaway from the survey responses so far is it sounds like we’re all craving more connection in our lives — less incessant chatter on our iPhones and more genuine conversations with people we identify with. I try my best to write my blog like I’m talking to a girlfriend, but I have to admit I sometimes find myself shying away from sharing more vulnerable moments or watering down my sense of humor in the interest of trying to offend as few people as possible. (Believe it or not, after nine years of blogging, ill-intentioned comments still cut me to the quick.) I think my family and closest friends would say I’m empathetic, fun-loving, funny, and passionate, and sadly I’m not sure that always comes across here.

It makes my day when you guys say you get to see more of my personality on my Instagram stories, so I really want to try to be more “me” on my blog as well. Seeing how many of you still visit my post about my experience at the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017 makes me disappointed in myself that I chickened out of sharing my experience this year at the march in New York. And I know I let at least a couple of you down when I shared my cooking fail in last week’s rose and thorn post instead of talking about the horrific school shooting in Florida. The funny thing is, I thought I was being vulnerable by sharing a moment where I felt like a total loser, but I missed an opportunity to talk about something more meaningful, even though I was clearly thinking about it in real life (particularly now that my dad is on his second career as a high school math teacher). It’s hard to strike the perfect balance between sharing happy inspiration and connecting on the really important stuff, but it’s something I find myself craving as I’ve gotten older and the world has gotten scarier.

It’s not about politics — it’s about being less afraid to put more of myself out there, whether that’s writing about my parents’ involvement with the ABC house (which I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to forever) or doing a Q&A series (as a ton of you suggested in the survey!) to answer reader questions on the blog vs. email so more people can benefit. To be clear this blog is not going to become some podium for me to preach from; in fact I want the very opposite: community, connection, genuine conversation. The posts where we’ve had real discussions are the posts I find most rewarding and the ones that seem to stick with you guys too. Granted I don’t have some breakthrough “aha!” moment every week, so in between those more thoughtful discussion-oriented posts I still plan to share my weekly rose and thorn so we can all share our everyday ups and downs in a way that hopefully hits a note between being lighthearted and self-deprecating/more vulnerable.

I know I’m not alone in this fear of really putting myself out there — I’ve had so many conversations with blogger friends about how much to share and how to cope with hurtful comments. But I suppose this is me gently ushering in the newest chapter on Design Darling, one where, in addition to sharing the pretty things and places I love (and believe me, those aren’t going anywhere), I’m also going to make a concerted effort to share more of myself, my personality, and the things that make me “me.” I still want my blog to be a happy corner of the internet and a pretty escape (and I will always keep certain things private out of respect for family, friends, and my sanity), but I also want to get to know more of you by sharing a little more of myself. I’ve started brainstorming a few ideas on how to do this, but I’d love to hear any thoughts you have either in the reader survey or in the comments here.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now (and I think it’s a natural growing pain for a blog I started my junior year of college!) so thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and for sharing your feedback on how I can improve. I’d love to connect with any of you who have faced similar hurdles (whether it’s putting yourself out there online or in real life) — as with everything I’m wrestling with, I find I’m rarely the only one.

P.S. Some of my favorite discussions with you guys: changing your name after marriagethe need to be more present, and your goals for the next three years. You can always peruse lots more discussion posts here.



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  1. Thanks for opening yourself up! I for one can’t wait to see what’s to come with more thoughtful, less curated thoughts and topics.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this subject. As a new blogger I’ve been struggling with how much of myself to put out there and which controversial topics to speak about. It’s a difficult balance. But I’m excited you’ll be sharing more! I really love your writing and your sense of humor and would be happy to see more of it.

  3. I really felt for you when I saw that Rose & Thorn comment last week. Whilst I could see the perspective, you cannot be all things to all people. You just can’t. And it’s unrealistic and unfair of others to expect you to be. It was your personal thorn – there is unfortunately so much going on in this crazy world that doesn’t receive widespread media attention, so are you meant to mention that too? I agree about personal/political, community and genuine conversation… as long as you’re doing you. Keep it up MH 🙂

  4. Can’t wait to read and follow along as you peel some of those layers back 🙂 I’ve always loved everything you do. I’m sort of the opposite. I consider myself to be an over-sharer, especially when it comes to my blog, and I’ve always wondered if that’s a good or bad thing. Selfishly, I like to share those big, personal pieces because I find it to be therapeutic and it helps me process and move on so that I can talk about the fun, pretty things. Otherwise I tend to hole up and avoid sharing anything. p/s I’ve been loving your insta stories!

  5. Thanks for this post! It’s refreshingly honest and nice to know what’s going on behind the scenes in a blogger’s mind.

  6. Long time lurker, first time commenter (and, full disclosure: big time feminist advocate) –

    The personal IS political. It is about politics and that’s not wrong or divisive or even necessarily partisan! Our personal experiences are connected to big picture policy solutions, larger social issue, and overarching political structures. Just because you aren’t naming them doesn’t mean those connections don’t exist and I would LOVE to see you use this platform and the community you’ve built to lean into that.

  7. Hey, Mackenzie! I just wanted to say I LOVE this! As a twenty-something that does a lot of public speaking I totally appreciate the struggle with trying to be authentically and fully you while also wanted to reach a wide audience. A lot of times I shy away from some of my greatest passions out of fear of conflict, but, I’m realizing that the ability to communicate and share ideas is exactly what we need more of. I’ve loved your discussion pieces and I applaud your courage to share with us! Cheering you on!

  8. Thanks for opening up here! People’s comments for the rose and thorn are tricky because at no point has the thorn been something to the extent of the school shooting. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you to balance. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget your women’s march post and it’s great to hear you attended again this year. Truly a role model.

  9. I’ve always felt bloggers are in a tricky position because they will be called out for commenting on politics / current events and then called out if they don’t. I’m a high school teacher and didn’t think it was inappropriate for anyone to post something not related to the school shooting.

    I think when it’s personal and its an experience or affects you than share it. I think commenting on politics or current events doesn’t always translate well when you’re commenting to comment and not really adding a personal perspective to the conversation.

    1. I so identify with this! I go back and forth between feeling like I should acknowledge every tragedy (because it’s likely at least one of my readers sadly does have a personal connection) and feeling like maybe my job is just to add a bright spot to people’s days to distract them from those events. I really appreciate your two cents.

  10. I would also love to hear some of the other bloggers who came up again and again on the survey! Always looking for new people to follow and support!

  11. Thank you for sharing this! I don’t live a public life on the internet, but struggle with vulnerability in real life. Brene Brown’s books have been very helpful/encouraging to me in this area and I would definitely recommend her newest, Braving the Wilderness. I listened to it last week on Audible and loved it!

  12. Thanks so much for this post, Mackenzie! I really find that when you do share more personal posts you strike the right balance between opening up and oversharing, which is a really difficult line to walk! I’m glad to hear you’ll be doing more personal posts–they are some of my favorites, and I always love reading the comments on each.