I started this blog for several different reasons, but I kept writing in it simply because it made me happy. I enjoyed writing, and the catharsis that comes with the act of physically getting something out of your soul. I enjoyed that it could serve as a record of things I wanted to remember, both for myself and for my girls when they’re older. I enjoyed making friends in the greater blogging community. And I really enjoyed just doing something for myself, and for my own…enjoyment.
Something just for me, just because I wanted to.
There were a few times that I felt slightly pressured by this blog…by the responses that I received in regard to what I had written and what I perceived as others’ expectations of me. It’s great to know that someone is interested in something that you’ve done, and to look forward to more from you, but those expectations, at some point, really started to upset me.
It’s a fine line…a very fine, odd little line between being flattered and being disturbed by peoples’ reaction to what is, essentially, your allowing your soul to leak out onto the internet. I supposed it’s all a matter of perception, which is inherently subjective.
If I didn’t want anyone to read it, and if I didn’t want anyone to respond, why not just write in a private journal, where no one would ever see it? It would stand to reason that, by my putting all of this out there on the internet, I was completely prepared for the possibility that someone would read it, and maybe even hoping that my words would be heard (or read, whatever).
I wanted to share, wanted to put something out there that would maybe one day benefit someone else. That’s why I wanted a blog, rather than a private journal. I thought that there may be something in my life that could somehow help someone else.
But then the people who actually knew me were reading it, and talking to me about it, and they would bring up to me, in real life, something that I had written. They would mention some funny story, or something moving. Or something completely mundane.
At first, I felt flattered. Then it became a little weird for me. Then, one day, I realized that I felt violated.
I don’t know when I went from feeling flattered to violated. I don’t know how or why, but I suspect that it had a lot to do with where my state of mind was going at the time (which I may or may not write more about in the future). But, I do know that, by the time of my last post, I almost felt violated just by hitting “Publish.”
The great relief that I used to feel by getting it all out of me was gone, and I felt more like my soul was being forcibly stolen, rather than me sharing it willingly.
Maybe that statement is a little dramatic…maybe not. But I didn’t think about that then. Even if I had, I doubt it would have made me feel it any less.
I felt violated and pressured by this blog because, all of a sudden, people had expectations of me. No one was ever pushy or obtrusive intentionally, and their actions likely would not be described in those terms by any objective party, but with all of the stress that I was feeling in the rest of my life, any amount of perceived pressure from my blog was too much.
I wanted this blog to be mine. My thing that was just for me, just because it made me happy. I wasn’t worried about getting tons of traffic or one day turning my writing into a business. I just wanted to have fun with it. I wanted to share ideas, thoughts and experiences with the world, or just have them down for myself. I didn’t want it to be a job, or an obligation.
So I just stopped trying. I left the blog alone and stopped getting it all out.
Since taking my leave, I have noticed all kinds of discussions going on in comments sections and opinion pieces (and even blog posts themselves…^ see?) all over the internet about the nature of blogging. Are all bloggers just narcissistic attention-whores who need the validation of strangers to feel “popular”? What if a blogger unwittingly becomes an advocate, a spokesperson, a poster-child for this cause or that, giving themselves an unwanted label and an accidental “brand?” When does it stop being about the blogger, and instead start being about the expectations of their readers?
Ultimately, it all comes down to that choice…am I doing this for me, for my readers, for advertisers? If I’m blogging with some great goal in mind, some greater purpose, how much of myself am I willing to give up to reach those goals? With or without advertisers, with or without haters and nasty comments, with or without groupies and giveaways and fans and followers…the choice is still the same. Who am I doing this for?
* Another side note…does anyone else look at that last sentence and think “FOR WHOM am I doing this! FOR WHOM!”…because really, I know that no one talks like that, but my English teacher freshman year of high school would have dropped me a whole letter grade if she saw me ending a sentence with a preposition, and it still makes me a little uneasy to do so.
I thought a little about these topics while on my hiatus, and how they relate to my situation. I ran away from it, rather than dealing with it. This is what I am trying to do now, to deal with it and fix it, so that I can enjoy it again.
When I made the mistake of abandoning this blog last Fall, I didn’t realize how it would affect me. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed writing, and I didn’t realize the positive impact it has had on me since I started. Writing here makes me happy; it helps me get out thoughts and feelings that I might otherwise not get out at all; it feels like a connection to the world (that I have recently started to miss, having been working at home for going on five years now); and it makes me feel like I am creating something, producing something, that I can be proud of.
* Another preposition…we’re down to a C now.
So, that brings us to the choice I described above. I had to think about what *I* want out of this.
And what I want is to have this space as mine, and to continue to share it with anyone who wants to read it. I am flattered to have anyone interested in what I write, and I hope that anyone who does read it will enjoy it. I do not want to discourage anyone from reading it, or from talking to me about what I write here.
The problem that I had with writing this blog really had little to do with what anyone else said or did. No one did anything that drove me away. I felt violated because I stopped caring about what *I* wanted first, and therein lies my mistake. I let myself forget that it was ok for this to be just for me.
I spend almost every minute of everyday for my children, for my husband, for my clients, my family, my friends. I am happy with my life, I would not give up the blessings in my life for anything, and I gladly accept all of my responsibilities.
However, I need my time…my “me time.” I am lost without it. If the last few months have taught me anything, it’s that I have to take responsibility for my own happiness, which rests heavily on my need to be just me for a little while, at least every once in a while. And this blog helps me fill that need. This is my space to be selfish, to be silly, to be emotional, to talk about the things I’m interested in.
I want to continue writing here (or start back, however you want to look at it). I want to do this for me, and I want to welcome anyone who wishes to join me. I may make some changes around here soon, and I may not, depending on what mood strikes me.
…but whatever I do, I’m happy knowing that I’m doing it for me.