There is something in the air, something shifting in this little corner of the universe called Blogland (Blogville? Blogania?) A lot of questioning, examining, exposing, exploring. What is it for? How authentic is this community and how real are the stories we share? Why does it so often end up feeling like high school? I have seen this discussion on a number of blogs as of late and I've had it with many friends. As uncomfortable as it can be to shine a light on the less pleasant aspects of this community, I always believe that any conversation aimed at honesty and seeking the truth is a productive, healthy thing.
That is my intention in sharing some of my stories and opinions here - to contribute to the discussion that is already in progress, in a way that I hope is a meaningful. I am here to tell the truth...not to judge, gripe, wallow or criticize...but to honestly share my experiences in this sometimes peculiar world.
This is basically a brain dump of snippets from my blogging experience, in no particular order of importance.
I feel like a bit of an oddball blogger, like I don't fit neatly into any particular kind of category, hardship, struggle or journey. My purpose for keeping a blog is to seek the truth, explore my questions and share my journey in a way I hope is inspiring to others. I must admit that I believe if I struggled more in any number of ways, I would probably have a wider audience. Having said that, I actually have no idea what my stats are. I can't remember the last time I checked them - oh wait, it was actually a few weeks ago, because I was trying to track traffic from a recent first try at advertising on another website. I am sitting here trying to remember the numbers on the stats list and I am drawing a complete blank. In a nutshell, I don't care about stats. I don't blog to be popular.
I am pretty terrible at keeping up with other blogs, and I have rather prickly feelings about the obligation to leave a comment just because I've stopped by. I am a lurker most of the time. If I had all the time in the world I could probably make blog reading a full time job, as there are so many out there with interesting stories, discussions, images and explorations. But I get overwhelmed fairly easily by the sheer volume of blogs, so I tend to stick to very few regular reads.
See the list of blogs under "Community" in the right hand column of this blog? There are at least a dozen - no, probably two dozen - other blogs that I am also familiar with, have heard of or otherwise know about but have not added to my list. This is not because I am trying to leave anyone out, but because - and this relates to my previous comment - I just feel like all the linking and connectiong has to end somewhere. I sometimes worry about how people will interpret this, this not being on the list. Will they think I am trying to intentionally leave them out? I start having these guilt-driven thoughts, and it makes me feel very small.
If anyone reading this believes I have not been made to feel left out, excluded or not cool enough for the cool crowd, you are very much mistaken. I have felt all of these things from people I put my trust in, and it has not been fun, to say the least. These experiences have inspired me to pull away completely and distrust everyone. My work there is to not allow that current to pull me too far out to sea, so far that I'm disconnected from everyone. They have made me feel taken for granted and like a total sucker, as if I somehow got pulled into someone's tractor beam and wanted so much to believe in the possibilities of our connection that I didn't see the truth of what our relationship really was (which may not necessarily have been bad, but not as geunine as I thought it was.)
In my quest to believe the best story I could believe and my fierce desire for a meaningful creative community, I have, at times, allowed myself to get tugged along much further than I should have allowed. It is not in my nature to be overly-cautious or mistrusting, but I am learning that I need to pay much closer attention to my intuition in these situations. There are many tiny details that are the source of the truth, and it is all too easy to ignore them when rawer emotions take over. This is a lesson I've had to learn over and over again in my life, in the blogging world and beyond.
I have found some of my dearest friends through blogging, and have always trusted that I will meet the people I am supposed to meet in person. I have never tried to force a face-to-face meeting; when it has happened it has always been an organic process. After an intense, mind-blowingly beautiful connection with three fellow bloggers about a year ago, my view of the blogging community was dripping in pixie dust and I began to cast my net far and wide. Now, many months later, I am starting to see the cracks and the mud, the less pretty sides of this world. I have had a pendulum swing in one twelve-month period, and I think I'm basically back where I was before this gathering last year, in a bit of a love/hate relationship with blogging. I am feeling more reserved, more hesitant, more careful about reaching out too much. I'm choosing not to place any judgement on this, but to allow it to play out the way it needs to play out, and to trust that I will eventually find my way to a place of balance. Beneath any hurt feelings and disappointments, I believe this is a powerful, beautiful community that has created a lot of joy and goodness in the world. I believe this with all of my heart.
The last comment I will make has to do with my own particular voice in this world. As I said, I don't know what my stats are but I can tell you they aren't earth shatteringly huge. Still, I know I have a certain readership and know that audience is building because of my book (thank you!) and I feel a huge sense of responsibility around that, a responsibility I am honored to have. I will always try my hardest to share my journey in an authentic way, to share the joys as well as the struggles, the beauty as well as the frustrations. At the end of the day, no one is putting a gun to my head and forcing me to expose myself in this way, and I believe it is my job - my duty - to hold myself accountable to what I write about and claim to live by in my blog.
I can explain my intention this way: if someone is reading my blog, and then we meet in person, I want that person to recognize me face to face. In other words, I want that person to see the same person in the flesh as they see here in words and pictures. This is different from the need to feel seen; this is about wanting my blog and my self to be in alignment. This blog holds me accountable, and that just might be my favorite thing about keeping a blog. In aiming to write and share authentic stories about my life from a place of integrity, I find my way to like-minded souls and hopefully add a little extra sparkle to the world along the way. If I create a powerful, positive story in this space, I damn well better have the actual experience to back it up. Anything less is totally without meaning.
I am so appreciative of the honest voices out there that are offering a more well-rounded view of this community, warts and all (this one and this one are creating some interesting discussions.) Even though it is almost November, it feels a bit like spring cleaning, and I have faith this discussion has the potential to lead us all somewhere positive.