It is now a year since I started my blog. The last year wasn’t that easy. Don’t get me wrong- it was by no means the hardest year I have ever had to deal with- it just wasn’t plain sailing. This time a year ago I missed America and had to do a job I hated (which is over now, thank goodness!) and really just felt a bit lost. So, the blog was supposed to be a way of funnelling my energy into something positive, and I think it worked.
What did I learn?
Don’t try and curate something that isn’t real
In November this year, Essena O’Neill, an Australian social media star, quit social media. She described it as “contrived perfection made to get attention”. I can absolutely see how that happens. There are times when I have considered what I am writing and almost changed it to be more palatable. However, I have kept it. I think my most…uncomfortable…post was this one. I debated it, and chose to publish it. Not as a message to anyone in particular, but because it was how I felt at the time. To NOT post it, would be an attempt to curate a life that wasn’t mine. To NOT post it would be a failure to acknowledge our (my!) flaws and foibles. I turned 30 this year: I have to be ok with my weirdness and flaws, because I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere soon! So, plenty of food, plenty of travel and some uncomfortable commentary. It’s not curated for anyone. If nothing happens in my life (or if I am in a place where I just can’t write) there is a gap in blog posts. Definitely true in May and August of 2015, where I was struggling a bit! And that’s ok. There is no point making the thing a chore where you feel like you have to post. If I have something to say, I will. If I don’t, you’ll get radio silence!
Write it for yourself, not for others
I never really wrote it with the intention that other people would read it. I know that sounds stupid. However, it was a way of me writing down some of what was in my head and some of my experiences to funnel my energy into something creative. The reality is, over 4000 people have visited the blog. Small in terms of most sites, but it still surprises me. What’s even more surprising is that 800 of those people kept coming back. It’s easy to get into thinking “what would people like to read?”, but that was never the point of this. I have to do that all day long at work- think about what other people would react to- so the point of this exercise was just to blab out what was in my head. The minute I start to write the content for others, it’s more like a job. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do that, or am not open to that, it just wasn’t the point of the exercise.
Don’t put it all out there
I came to realise that, sometimes, I put it all out there. For anyone who knows me, that’s true on the blog, and it’s true in real life. And it gets me in trouble! When I was talking to somebody about my holiday and they said that they had read about it already, I recognised that I had overshared. The blog is fun, but it’s no substitute for talking to the people in your life. Now I just try to pick topics, restaurants or events to focus on. That’s a pretty recent learning. Also, other forms social media are probably more suited to a running commentary, like Twitter and Instagram.
People get embarrassed about reading it
It’s out there. However, people get embarrassed about reading it! Some people have said “so sorry- I was just stalking you”, or people who have mentioned something about my life and I’ve said “I didn’t realise I told you about that” and they come up with some lame excuse…it’s ok to say you read it on the blog! I wouldn’t publish it into the ether if I didn’t think somebody might read it.
Keep doing it
Writing the blog has helped me enormously. It helped me recognise that life AA (after America!), had plenty going on. It helped me focus my energy outside of the workplace- which was a first for me. It helped me gain some control when I felt like everything was out of my control, and it helped me find a creative way of expressing myself. I am not a good writer, by any stretch of the imagination, but the process of writing down thoughts can make you feel accomplished. It can also help refine your thoughts- if you’re like me and have a million things zipping around in your head at once, that you can’t quite organise. Eventually, that helps restore your confidence in your thoughts and ideas. So, I’ll definitely keep doing it. If the 800 of you who come back and read this thing keep doing so, I’d be glad to keep writing you my uncontrived, slightly edited (just so I save something for face to face conversation) rhetoric. And if you know me and read it, it’s totally fine to say so. It doesn’t make you a stalker.
Thanks for reading everyone x