Sunday, June 15, 2008

Post-blogiversary thoughts

My blogiversary - two years! - passed on May 22, while I was in Paris. I didn't take the time time to mark it then - I couldn't, really - and though I meant to do it when I came back, I haven't gotten to it.

Part of the reluctance to mark this blogiversary stems from the fact that I am feeling uncertain about the blog, I must admit. This has nothing to do with any of you, lovely blogfriends, or with the blogosphere or blogging in general. It comes entirely from me, not from any exhaustion with blogging or other bloggers. It's more like I'm tired of myself.

You see, when I began this blog, I tended to write weightier posts. I stopped feeling the need to do that after six months or so, when I felt I could relax into just recording my life.

But now I'm wondering, what is the point? And feeling intermittently quite embarrassed to have all this emotion out on display - I've blogged my breakup with R and getting back together, Mr. K's death, emotional teaching times in 2006-07 at Dream Uni, some severe unhappiness this past winter, and other crises. All in raw, charged ways. And when I think back, I feel quite unnerved about how much of myself I've laid bare. You see, in Real Life, I've often been told that "I hold my cards close to my chest." From what others tell me, it appears (and this is surprising to me, because it's not how I experience myself, as I'm sure you can imagine) that I often project a kind of detached calm. I realize that if this is the case, I do it because I don't like to be spectacularly emotive. You know, I'm good with emotions in very intimate situations, but not good at feeling on display with them. Crying in front of almost anyone else is a horror for me.

Yeah, but this blog has become precisely that spectacular, emotive theatre. Oh, not all the time, I know - but certainly it has been a lot of soul-baring. And I worry that it's all just self-indulgent, narcissistic...why do I put this out there for the world to see? It makes me feel slightly queasy about myself...I don't much like receiving lots of attention in RL, so why would I draw it my way, here?

I am perhaps being hard on myself*'s true that I've blogged here for support and company and - dare I say it - friendship. That's been important at some crucial times. But I feel as if I'm expecting people to respond to me, demanding something of them somehow, and that makes me uncomfortable.

I suppose all of this is brought into relief, in a sense, because right now I'm going through something on a personal level that I can't imagine blogging about. Though I know it would make some fascinating reading, there's no way I am going to put it out there on a blog. That recognition has made me question why I've put other things out there in the past, and whether it's been for purely narcissistic reasons...Am I reluctant to put the new thing out there because it doesn't necessarily demand sympathy but shows me in a much more complex and possibly harsher way? Yuck. That's terrible.

So in the wake of the blogiversary, I'm thinking about the blog and even thinking about ending it. I'm torn, though, because I've made so many good connections through it and I don't want to leave behind this community...And also because I like the way I can talk about work on it. Yet I don't think I want to make this solely about work.

So I'm not sure. I may wind it up soon, I may not.

And this here has been another self-indulgent post, brought to you by Hilaire.

*Especially because I don't read others' quite personal blog posts and think they're being self-indulgent, ever. So why am I so suspicious of myself?


Brigindo said...

Well I, for one, would be very sad to see you end this blog. I've never experienced it as "spectacular, emotive theatre." It has been raw and soul-searching at times. It is also incredibly honest and real and I appreciate that in any kind of writing.

It's interesting to think about what we will and won't blog, even under conditions of pseudonymity, but ultimately we are presenting a portion of ourselves, not our total selves to the world. Perhaps this is a venue for you to express those emotions you usually downplay. Don't we all need someplace to do that?

So for what it's worth I don't find this blog to be self-indulgent or narcissistic (and yes there are plenty out there) but I do understand why you would worry about this and why you would be uncomfortable having it all "hanging in the wind." Please do what makes you comfortable but know how much you'll be missed should you decide to call it quits.

Maggie said...

I would be terribly sad to see your blog go away! What you're worrying is "narcissistic" is, to my mind, being *human,* and that's what I love about your blog, and find so much to connect with! I've found so much solace in your ruminations about your relationships, your teaching, and your future.

For the record, I am also not a person who puts a lot out there IRL-- or at least not terribly deeply. I find that my blog gives me a "safe" format in which to do that (ironic, I know)-- to be raw in a way that I almost never am in real life.

What Now? said...

I don't think of your blog at all as "spectacular, emotive theatre," but it may function as a way for you to enlarge your sense of self, to be emotionally vulnerable in a way that you're usually not IRL ... and I get why that would feel uncomfortable, but also why it might be a real source of ongoing growth.

But of course I'm biased, since I'd hate to see your blog end!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Well, I enjoy reading your blog, so would love to see it continue. But I can sympathize with the concerns because I'm torn about my own blog these days. So I'll just say that I hope you decide on what will work best for you.

Psychgrad said...

I can relate to a lot of what you're saying in this post. Actually, the post I wrote today has some similar themes in it. But, I think you've shed light on some of these same questions I've had for myself. I tend to hold my cards pretty close in RL too. I rarely cry in front of people and when I feel like I'm going to cry, a full on battle begins whereby I work to resist crying. Maybe blogging is particularly helpful for people with these characteristics. Emotion have to be expressed in some way.

Selfishly, I hope you don't stop blogging. When I open my Google Reader and notice 200 unread posts, I scan through for certain blogs that I want to keep up to date with. Yours is one of them. So, even if there is a narcissistic component to blogging about your own life, others do gain enjoyment from it. That, or we're all just messed up masochist who can't resist coming back for more posts. :)

JustMe said...

first, happy blogiversary!

and second, i agree with everyone else, i love your blog. and though i am a newer reader, i agree with what the others have said -- i don't think you're self-indulgent at all in your blog. i think in some way, it is sort of inevitable that we are only show certain aspects of ourselves on our writing. and i agree with brigindo, we do need a space to express our emotions. i find it cathartic to deal with my feelings through writing, but at the same time, there are somethings i can't bring myself to talk about because it's sort of like living it again, you know? if you are worried about leaving your raw emotions "out-there" , you could always not keep a long archive online, and save it elsewhere. i guess what i mean is that i too, selfishly, hope you don't end your blog, but i will understand if you decide to, or make changes to it, etc, b/c i struggle with that too sometimes.

dbm/gaa said...

Ya'll are speaking to my blog research...if you aren't careful I will contact you for interviews!

Hilaire said...

As usual, you folks are right on. Thank you for all your comments. I am feeling better about keeping this going, at least for now.

Brigindo, you are right to remind me that I need to feel comfortable with this as not a FULL transcription of a life, but a partial one. I always think this in relation to other blogs - but somehow expect that I have to be fully giving an account of myself or else I'm being unethical.

And Maggie and What Now and Psychgrad and Justme - you all are right to highlight the various psychological benefits that come with this...I need to remember this. It's certainly true that I've derived some comfort from writing here. I shall think, too, about the less obvous kinds of benefits that you mention - trying on different aspects of myself, "enlarging" my sense of self, feeling free to be open with "strangers", etc.

NK - I'm also comforted to hear that you're experiencing some similar ambivalence - though I'm like you: I'd hate to see your blog end! But as you said to me, I hope you will do whatever makes you most comfortable.

DBM/GAA - We are going to have to have a talk about your research this summer! I'm very curious!

Belle said...

Ditto to the comments above: is part of this your Canadian-ness?

I love reading about the bits/pieces of what you share; value your blog and your mind, and would hate to see you vanish.

Please don't. (I'm selfish)

Dr. Crazy said...

Happy belated blogiversary!

I'll say, I went through this after I'd been blogging about a year and a half - the feeling that I was too raw, the feeling that I was uncomfortable with what I was choosing to write... What I ended up doing was moving locations, keeping my name, and reconfiguring what I wanted the blog to be. Obviously I still write some personal stuff, and I write mundane boring details about my life, too. But I've also developed a more topic-driven part of my blogging persona, so I write about the profession, about teaching questions, about research... I guess the thing is, a blog is what you decide to make of it. Over the course of two years, we change. Our reasons for writing change. And it's ok if you turn this space into something that feels more comfortable for you *right now*. You don't owe any of your readers anything - we just like reading whatever it is that tickles your fancy.

I'd be sad if you stopped blogging. And I also agree with everything that everybody said above. The thing with blogging is that it is an undefined writing space that forces us to figure it out as we go along. Sometimes there's static. I think that's part of what makes the genre interesting, even if that static can be painful or irritating :)

Hilaire said...

Dr. Crazy - You're so right, of course, to stress that I am in control of this forum and this process. "This is what I make it." I think I'm just not surr what I want to make of it! :)

Belle - Is it part of my Canadian-ness...Now that's an interesting question...I know there's this apparent Canadian understated/deferential thing...But of course, since I'm in it, it's really hard for me to see it...So I'm not sure!

medieval woman said...

Ugh - I am FINALLY getting your posts on my bloglines - so I'm a bit late to chime in with this.

First, happy blogiversary! I'm so glad you're here.

And I understand completely about looking back at old posts and thinking about them - but none of yours are at all self-indulgent. It's an interesting commentary on the way we are, I think. There's an intimacy you form with a blogging community that can be a little eye-opening at times. Did you really just say that? Could I say that to someone's "face"? It's a simultaneously intimate and distant relationship.

But the question is, when you've reached out and blogged about those feelings and heard back from people - did you take comfort from it? Did you feel better? If so, then it was right.

The best thing about blogging over the course of a long time, I've found, is how elastic the entire experience can be. The blog doesn't turn off or reset itself if it's left unattended for a while. The same for the blogging community. It's like a big potluck - you come and go as you please. Sometimes posts are incredibly potent, powerful, and "weighty" - sometimes, it's months of fluff. I've made a concerted effort to avoid apologizing for long blog absences or for the lack of things to say. Because that's life. And blogging should be like a good relationship - we should like you when you're intense and glitsy and when you're kicking it for 7 months in sweats and nothing's going on and when there's stuff going on and you just don't want to talk about it.

All this is to say - I very much hope you will still blog. I like hearing about your life, whatever part of it you want to share...

sexy said...