You know that line from the movie Notting Hill? The one where Julia Roberts, who plays a famous actress – real stretch role for her – tells Hugh Grant’s character, the manager of a small bookstore, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
First of all, I call bullshit. She’s not just a girl. He’s not just a boy. When most people become famous, odds are, they change. I have seen and known it to happen with some friends in my own life. They became more than just a girl or a boy and depending on their character, the people they need to surround themselves have to come with a pedigree I don’t have or serve a purpose I apparently don’t.
To them I’m just a girl.
But I do want to re-purpose that line for my own use and maybe change it just a little bit.
“I’m just a girl, writing a blog for anyone who will read it, asking them to understand me.”
You might be the ones calling “Bullshit” this time since I am using the word “girl” quite liberally here. But I wanted to tell you a little bit about what this girl, who is writing this post way too late at night, has learned about herself and her life over the years through the course of blogging. She’s not going to write it all today, but maybe she can start.
(Please don’t mind the use of the third person reference there. It’s 2 AM. Cut me/her/she some slack.)
Blogging about your life is a constant balance
I know you’re thinking, “Like, duh.” Of course with blogging, there is always the balance of time. Do I play with my child or answer the comments that are waiting for me after my last post? Do I try to work on the business model for the company I am launching or do I come up with new witty posts about what happened to me at Target the other day? Or today. Or on Saturday, just because I needed an extension cord. In pink.
That time balance is a constant struggle and I am not going to lie. If I was sitting on a seesaw and my family was on one end and the blog was on another, over the past few months, it would be clear that my family won out and I sat my butt on one end of that seesaw and pretty much stayed there. I needed to. Stuff was happening and it was a choice I needed to make.
But it’s the other stuff. The below the surface stuff. It’s deciding whether to write about the things going on in my life that are hard to talk about, but for whatever reason, seem to flow from my fingers with a power of their own as soon as I open WordPress. It’s about contemplating what daily struggles I want to share that I am having with my spouse, siblings, in-laws, friends or co-workers. It’s talking about the issues that I am really thinking about but can’t write because I know that there will be collateral damage in doing so. Hurt feelings. Irreparable damage even.
I can’t write what I think all the time because I don’t live in a vacuum and every word I put out there impacts the people around me.
Some people call it brave to put it all out there. I think I used to believe that. Now, I think that there is a fine line between bravery and needing constant validation from people around the internet, sometimes at the expense of my own family. That? I don’t see that as bravery anymore, but I do think it’s pretty freaking selfish.
I was at a conference once and Jeff Goines, the author of “Wrecked” was taking questions after a presentation on creative writing. I asked him how he draws the line between writing about himself and impacting the privacy of those in his life. He didn’t seem to understand the question and I struggled to find the words during that 10 second period to explain what I meant. But It think it’s something like this.
If I were to tell you that I battle depression, it’s not just my story. It’s also my husband’s. It’s also my children’s. It may become their teacher’s story, who may look at them differently or treat them because of a different lens they now have on. Oh, your homework is late? Is it because of what’s going on at home?
If I were to tell you that my husband has done something to me, something which has shocked me, it’s not just my story or his. Again, it’s the story of my children, our friends and our families as well. Perhaps even his co-workers and colleagues who might have seen or read the piece (Don’t worry, John hasn’t done anything to me. Yet.)
The reality is that over time, as a blogger, you start to feel that you owe it to yourself to be honest. And that you owe something to your readers. And while this may be true, I find that there have been a few times where I took this a little too literally and did so at the expense of the most important people in my life. These people – my family, my friends – don’t always understand my blog and they don’t get why I have opened up about some of my life. When I talk about the cathartic aspect of it, I think I lose them a bit there too. In fact, I am pretty sure my Dad would just say, “Get a diary.” In fact, I am pretty sure that after I publish this, my Dad will ask me why I had to say that he would say, “Get a diary.”
What I consider to be my story has sometimes been violations of the story of others. Especially when it has come to my family. What was hard for me to learn was that in my re-telling of the stories, they also saw many of the things very differently than I did.
But I got to tell my side of it, so it’s all good, right?
I guess I just don’t know anymore.
I think one of the reasons I have also taken a break from blogging was to figure this part of things out. I can tell all and really mess my children over forever or I can write with boundaries. And sometimes writing with boundaries is so hard to do that I just opt to not write at all.
And that sucks. The not writing just sucks.
Things in my life are finally settling down after what has been a very tumultuous few months. Some of it I can tell you about. Some of it I can’t. And I think that’s what I am learning. These boundaries with blogging are just never going to be that clear cut.
Thanks for sticking with me through my ride though.
At the end of the day, I’m just a girl. A girl with a blog. And I really want it to be a good one.
All my love,
P.S. If you are in the Northern VA/DC Metro area, there is a conference on October 26 empowering bloggers and small business owners being run by Femworking. I will have a stall there as Simply Om, my jewelry company dedicated to raising awareness and aid for women living in oppression around the world. If you haven’t signed up, please come out and check out my good friend, Jill Smokler, (Scary Mommy), as the keynote speaker. Hope to see you there!