I go back to December all the time
(Yes, it's a Taylor Swift lyric. I can't help it. I was in her top 0.5% of listeners this year!)
’Tis the season, right?
The season for all of the end-of-year emails, the annual best-of lists, the holiday planning (more thoughts on that here), and of course, the Spotify Wrapped of it all.
(According to mine, I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift, which we knew. It also reminded me of a very Encanto-heavy January, when Annie’s school shut down for an entire month, and we were home, working and parenting and bringing true meaning to “Surface Pressure.” Google the lyrics. Dissolve into an emotional puddle accordingly.)
For me, the end of the year means the annual Ali on the Run Show Listener Survey. I have a love-hate relationship with this 19-question procrastination quiz. (I imagine people filling it out when they’re putting off sending a far more important email, or on mute during a Zoom.) It’s helpful and wonderful. It lets me get to know this community that I care about so deeply. I genuinely love knowing what you love about the podcast, what resonated with you this year, and what you want more of.
So far, more than 1,000 people have completed the survey. Amazing!
Then, because I am committed to growing, learning, and improving, I ask for constructive feedback.
And every year, even though I commit to hiring someone to read and consolidate these on my behalf, I still dive in. Usually at night. It’s a weird form of self-torture, which isn’t usually my style.
I read a few, and then stopped in favor of starting The White Lotus Season 2.
“I hate the Peloton episodes. No more, please.”
“I love love love the episodes with Peloton instructors! Can you pleeeeeease get Cody Rigsby on the show in 2023?!”
“I wish the Ask Ali episodes always had co-hosts. I like them better that way.”
“I definitely prefer when the Ask Ali episodes are solo episodes. I think it’s weird with a co-host.”
“Ali, thank you for always asking the follow-up questions we all want to ask! I feel like you push just enough to get details without being ignorant.”
“I wish you would use your background in journalism more. Most of your questions are soft or fluffy, and I would love to see you push back on your guests when you disagree.”
The takeaway is obvious, right? (And all of this copy-pasted responses are perfectly valid!)
It’s the thing everyone has been telling me for years: I cannot be everything to everyone.
I think it’s finally, truly sinking in. That’s been big for me this year: the realization that not everyone will like me! I won’t be for everyone!
So how, after 3+ decades, did it finally stick?
Earlier this year, I was talking with a good friend of mine, and she was talking about this influencer she loves. She loves everything about her. Her fashion, her style, her voice, her posts, her whole vibe.
I, on the other hand… Let’s just say I feel differently.
To be clear, I don’t know said person in real life. And I’m sure she’s perfectly lovely! I have nothing against her. She is harmless to me. (She’s not a runner; don’t waste energy trying to guess! It’s a totally random fashion-ish influencer. Not important!)
She’s just not for me.
And that’s when it clicked.
Some people will love me.
Others will say, “Ali’s just not for me.”
And that’s OK! And I’m saying that now, for the first time, genuinely.
I’ve spent 37 years wanting desperately to be liked. I’ve measured my success not with downloads or followers (I swear!), but with feedback. With approval. In personal relationships, in business ones, and with total strangers. It’s nice to be liked.
As I try to tie a pretty bow on my own 2022, a key takeaway will be the realization that I am not for everyone, and that is really, truly, fully OK.
My promise to myself — and to you — is to keep showing up authentically. I don’t know any other way.
This week’s highlight reel
I booked a quick (2.5-day) trip to Florida for Annie, my dad, and me. My grandmother (“Grandmom” — my dad’s mom) is turning 99 this month. She hasn’t seen Annie since Annie was a baby. So, we booked the trip. I can’t wait.
I received an Instagram DM from the news director at our local ABC affiliate. We had a call. She wants me to be a part of their Boston Marathon coverage in 2023. (!!!) Earlier this year, someone asked me about my big, too-scared-to-put-out-there goals. I admitted that I would love to do more live television. Here we are. Let’s see.
On the Ali on the Run Show
I’ve given myself a lighter podcast load to close out the year — two episodes per week instead of three or four — and the “break” feels wonderful.
I was feeling so introspective this week that I decided to re-release “Episode 57.” (OK and also because my planned guest for the week had to reschedule, so…I had to get creative. “Pivot!” —Ross Geller, Ali Feller) This conversation between my husband and me first came out in January 2018. I was struggling. I was freelance writing full-time, but I wasn’t fulfilled. The Ali on the Run Show was a fun hobby; a great distraction. I didn’t know where to go from there, though, and I was scared. I remember publishing this episode and holding my breath. I almost deleted it — several times. But the feedback was immediate. It resonated with people. Five years later, it’s pretty cool to look back on some of the tough times, and to see what can happen when you stay in the game and stay the course.
And because it’s Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week, there’s an Ask Ali episode all about living with these chronic illnesses. (No host for this one, which will make half of you happy and half of you furious!)
What I’m watching
The White Lotus, Season 2. Dark and twisty, just like the first season! I love Meghann Fahy. Put her in everything.
The Noel Diary. Oh my god, this was awful! People kept saying this was a “good” holiday movie because it “wasn’t as cheesy” as all the others. Now, I’m not a Hallmark holiday movie girl. I haven’t seen many. But this was less cheesy?! I hated it. And I sobbed uncontrollably and was sad when it was over. Emotions are weird.
A Bad Moms Christmas. Am I on a Justin Hartley (“Kevin from This Is Us” / Chrishell’s ex) kick, or was this a coincidence? I’ve seen this movie before. It’s another one that’s a little dumb, a little predictable, mostly off the rails, and very strangely satisfying. I put this on while addressing holiday cards by the fire. What a dream!
What I’m listening to
“Our Most Embarrassing Stories” on We Can Do Hard Things. It felt so good to LOL on the run. (Part two is here.)
On the run
Uneventful! I had a few runs this week where I didn’t need to make any bathroom stops, and that always feels like a victory! Otherwise, just daily runs exploring new routes from the new house. (Note to self: Try to make this section more exciting in future editions. Maybe sign up for a spring marathon or something…?!)
Take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other.