I used to have a blog. A blog I used for journaling and collecting things I loved and thought others would love. At best, I considered it therapeutic, an expression of myself and my likes. At worst, I thought it silly and flippant, a pathetic attempt at imitating the bloggers I loved that lived professionally-photographed, carefully-constructed and edited, charmed lives.
It originally started as a way to rant and catalogue my experiences as a senior in college. The “is it just me?” theme was always there in my thoughts and posts. I journaled about classes, friends, social settings, roommates, my relationship. I think back now to posts that cryptically discussed people around me and all the frustrations I felt towards them. Much of my writing was immature. But there were also real tidbits of my feelings and life present.
I dedicated posts to those people who hold the special places in my heart: my mom, my dad, my best friend, my boyfriend (now husband). I poured my words and thoughts into paragraphs and posted them eagerly online with grand visions of page views and comments and adoring readers.
It was exhilarating channeling my anger and annoyances into the keyboard, too. Publishing to the ever-public internet the idiocies of people I interacted with without their knowing. “Ha!” I’d think. “I’m so much more observant, more clever, so beyond.”
Over the next couple of years, the blog evolved more and more into what I considered “lifestyle” and was really my way of trying to emulate all the Blogger and WordPress and Tumblr famous people. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of sincere posts about recipes I tried and loved, struggles I endured while trying to find my first “real” job after graduating, moving, things that inspired me. But there was always a general falseness in the tone of my posts, something I couldn’t recognize as me. I was trying too hard to carefully-construct, to edit my own online version of a charmed life.
As I looked back through old posts, I felt embarrassed and weird about them being out there in the inter-webbed galaxy. After moving to Atlanta shortly after getting married, I started this little space. The old blog gathered dust. Each time it cropped up in my head, I’d feel guilty and a bit shameful, then I’d repress it. It was like the sad little Digi-Pet keychain I loved so fervently for a few months in elementary school that would die from lack of feeding and attention quicker and quicker each time I’d half-heartedly restart it to try again at being a good mom.
When we unexpectedly moved back to the DC area, I tried one last time, posting about the move with promises of resurrection for the blog. Then, sometime last year, I deleted it. Just like that. Blogger asked me “Are you sure?” clarifying for me that once deleted, it would be obliterated from this world forever. I didn’t even hesitate. Delete.
I off-handedly mentioned this to my husband some days or weeks later. He actually stopped what he was doing in our kitchen and looked at me as though I’d sprouted a foot out of my face: “WHAT? You deleted it? All of it??”
“Yeah,” I shrugged.
“But all those posts! All that writing! Those posts that you wrote about us when we were dating!”
“Excuse me? Are you serious right now?” Suddenly, doubts flooded into my brain clogging its nooks and crannies and shaking the confidence and assuredness I’d so calmly adopted about the whole thing.
“Well, because I was done with it. And I have a new blog.”
“But that one’s not really personal. I like that journaling stuff you did.”
“Please explain why, over the past years, you never mentioned that?”
“I don’t know. I thought you knew.”
I stared at him in comical disbelief. Thoughts like “MEN: WHAT THE FUCK?” swirled around in my head. But then I forced myself back to clarity and certainty.
“The thing is, I wrote a lot of stuff about people around me, friends, roommates, etc. that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving out there, even if I never mentioned them by name. I also felt like that old blog was a great learning experience, but its continued existence was kind of weighing me down.”
And there you have it.
Today, I started thinking about all the things I’ve written over the years. The stories I made up when I was young, the “perfect” score I achieved on the Florida writing test in the fourth grade, because I was lucky enough to receive a prompt that allowed for fiction, the little notebooks I filled with poems, the countless diaries and journals I bought and started and never saw to the end. I thought about the essays I half-assed in college and all that wasted time and opportunity with incredible professors I admired that I could’ve been wringing every last drop from. Those drops are something I thirst for now, sometimes. I thought about the papers and excerpts and teacher comments I’d saved for years, because I was proud of them, that I threw away, because I thought “Stop it. You are not now, nor will you ever be, a writer. Throw it out.” Why did I do that?
It doesn’t matter that I’ve never had serious aspirations to be a writer. Those were my words, my thoughts, little snippets of who I was in those moments, and I’ve trashed so much of it. When I scribble words into the blank pages of one of my planners or feel an urge, one that’s bursting, to start filling a notepad with sentences or a blank document with keystrokes, I am too harsh, too cruel to myself. I look back and scoff and mock.
How awful. Why would anyone do that to themselves? The world’s fucking tough as it is, why can’t I be kind to me?
So now I sit and come to peace with all those stupid little words and sentences and self-important “observations” about the world. I can’t keep berating myself for writing them anymore than I can keep beating myself up for getting rid of them. It has to end somewhere. Even with this blog, I look back to earlier posts and just have to learn from them: be more genuine, be more me.
All that I read and write now is done so through a lens of all that came before it, and it’s all affected who I am and how I see the world. There’s no shame in that, and, really, it’s rather lovely to think about.