I’ve been thinking a lot lately about beginning to blog seriously—attempting to write more often and more purposefully in hopes of gaining a regular audience. The first step in this direction, for me, was to subscribe to a few blogs that I liked and that had a relatively large and faithful readership and then read them regularly. I wanted to learn from the experts. (I’m pretty sure these ladies would laugh if they saw me calling them experts, but they are at least fellow journeyers who’ve made it quite a bit further down the blogging road than I).
I’ve learned a few things from this informal research over the past year. First, just write and write regularly. Second, be honest about what’s on your heart. Third, readers will respond strongly to things you never expected, but how many people read your post doesn’t matter that much anyway. Fourth, set realistic boundaries to protect yourself and your loved ones. Fifth, use correct grammar and spelling, but let your own creative voice as a writer shine through. The verdict: just be yourself.
The truth is that I really like blogging. I like having a forum to verbally process things, to capture moments that are especially meaningful to me, and to hone my writing skills. I have been writing on this blog for quite a while now, and I wrote on a xanga page before that (Ha! Remember that most ancient of interfaces?!). The blog post is a comfortable medium for me now. I have a feel for it. Some days as I’m sweeping the floor or cooking dinner or bouncing Lucy in her carrier attempting to get her to sleep, I’m blogging in my head.
But lately, I’ve gotten cold feet about putting myself out here on the Internet. Hence my long silence over the past four months. My fears were triggered in part by my post “Motherday”—which I just shot off in the wee hours on the night before Lucy’s first birthday. In it, I was pretty honest about my experience birthing Lucy and how I felt about that, how I treasured it and how it terrified me. But when it came time to post, I got pretty scared.
I wondered, “What if people think I’m crazy to write openly about birth like this? What if I offend someone? What if reading about my experience causes someone pain?” Posting something on the Internet feels so impersonal in many ways. I will never know exactly who my audience is. So I can never answer my questions.
But they’ve led me to face a deeper part of myself. It’s not just the Internet. I’m pretty terrified of putting myself out there in relationships in general.
I’m the girl who will hover around the doorway of a dorm room until you invite me in to sit down. I’m the girl who feels so dazzled by a friendly smile and hello (What?! Another human being remembers my name?!) that when you pass me on the sidewalk that I forget to say hello. I’m the girl who is terrified to call you on the phone because I might interrupt something important that you are doing right now, or maybe when you (or your family member, in the old days before cell phones, or your answering machine in these days) answer I’ll lose all power to make words come out of my mouth and make a complete fool of myself before you hang up, convinced by the silence that no one was on the line.
Unfortunately, I’m also the girl who lives so much in her own thoughts that people passing me in the hallway in high school were convinced I was giving them dirty looks, when I was only trying to work out this really difficult problem from the last class. I’m the girl who will text you from the emergency room to cancel plans saying that “I’m not feeling that well, can we reschedule?” Of course, I’m not this little girl anymore in many ways, and yet I still am. I don’t want to inconvenience you with my presence, my opinions, myself. I don’t want to impose on you. But there is a line somewhere between “not imposing” and “disappearing” and I’ve been on the wrong side of the line.
On days when I’m hard on myself, I call it an issue of selfish pride—I don’t want to risk people seeing the parts of me that are rumpled and dirty and imperfect. On days when I’m gentler with myself, though, I just admit that I’m an introvert and that it’s just harder for me to open up and to build deep friendships. I’m a family girl at heart, and I’m thousands of miles away from my family. I’ve also moved so many times (20, to be exact, and I’m not quite 30) that making new relationships each time, relative to the new neighborhoods and churches and so on, has taxed this introvert to the max.
I know the Internet is a limited interface to build relationships, even if I already know most of my readers in person, but maybe, just maybe, the things I write will be helpful to somebody, the way that the blogs I’ve been reading have been helpful to me. For example, one of my favorite bloggers Sarah Bessey chose fearless as her motto for the year this year and it has been so challenging and encouraging for me to watch her confront her fears and grow.
I’m tired of being afraid to put myself out there. I think it’s more exhausting to live in fear than to just throw in the towel and be myself. God’s had me in a vice grip in the past year to teach me that I can’t handle everything on my own, I need to get over myself and seek community. I’ll probably step on some toes (because I’m awkward that way). Feel free to yelp if it hurts. But I can’t keep it in anymore and stay sane. It’s time to open up and face my fears. It’s time to quit saying “I’m a writer” and then being too scared to put anything out there. It’s time to just write.
So here I go…