It has been far too long since I last had a bubbling thought in my head that I suddenly and desperately felt a need to articulate into sentences and form some kind of random brain-dump blog post on.
So here I am, writing and thinking and hoping some kind of sense will come of it.
Today’s random subject? The changing face of my blog, of my online presence and I guess, on many levels, the changing face of the content all of us are putting out.
When I started blogging and sharing the inner workings of my brain in WordPress tabs, there was no-one but the people I was friends with on Facebook to read them.
I’d whip up posts as quickly and without much thought for the consequences as I would have done a MySpace ‘Bulletin’ back in 2004, and then I’d share the link to my 567 friends. It would get maybe six likes on a strong day, a comment from a supportive uni friend along the lines of ‘Love this! x’ and I’d be over the moon if I had more than thirty page views.
It felt a lot like I was talking to an empty room. I’d get no feedback and little conversation from it. It was like writing in an open diary. It had little impact on my mood, my health or my life. It was something I just did because I liked to create, like a slightly maturer version of all the pretend magazines I created as a kid.
And then, as we are all well aware, the online world caught momentum and pace and quickly grew into an incredible space where there were hundreds and thousands of people writing and talking about every life situation and subject imaginable. It created communities! People started making money from it! Brands allocated marketing budget towards it! Blogging, Instagram, YouTube, it became a thing.
And it’s only been over the past few months that I’ve realised how much of myself I share online anymore. I still share the fact I can’t eat a slice of toast without getting jam down my top. I still share the intricate details of my period arriving. I still share my top snack recommendations, the clothes I buy, the make-up I try and the times my kid wakes me up. But I don’t share my brain – my thoughts, plans, ideas and moods – at least not in the same way I did three or four or five years ago.
This digital space has changed so incredibly quickly, and most of it has been for the good. We are all more aware of each other, supportive of each other and kinder to each other. But it also means the things it felt OK to say or share five years ago have not necessarily dated very well. I think the majority of my ‘list’ posts are probably too cringey and ‘fuck why did I think it was OK to say that?!’ to read back now.
I guess on some levels, these changes make me feel as though I’m not being true to the woman who started this blog, who gained a following for being ‘relatable’. I feel as though I am betraying her, as if the more the numbers grow, the further away I get from who I was.
But the truth is very simple: I am protecting myself.
I’ve learned a lot in my journey to better mental health and a better sense of self-acceptance – of which this blog has been a huge part.
I’ve learned that actually, sharing a photo of myself in swimwear on Instagram gives me one of the biggest mood boosts. I’ve learned that trying to pin your self worth on whether you’ve lost or gained followers overnight is a fucking terrible idea. I’ve learned that I am INCREDIBLE whether or not I eat the cake, or weight nine stone or thirteen stone. I’ve learned that feeling shit is inevitable, some days are just utter write offs, but it’s important to resort back to the simple things that bring glimmers of happiness on those days: beige foods, good company and hot tea. I’ve learned that people will always judge you based on knowing 10% of your life, but so long as you’re not constantly offending your inner circle, you’re doing OK. I’ve learned that my worth isn’t based on how many hours of work a week I put in, and that laziness is far from the worst insult.
But I’ve also learned that self preservation is really, really fucking important.
Whether that’s cutting people out of your life, putting up walls where they’re needed, or simply, sharing less of yourself with the world.
I don’t write as deeply online as I once did simply because I value myself and my happiness above the need to press publish.
In many ways it’s selfish because I know that crippling honesty from someone else is exactly the kind of thing that makes you breath a giant sigh of relief and go ‘AH THANK FUCK IT’S NOT JUST ME’.
But after five years of writing blog posts, I now write every single one with a Daily Mail commenter in my ear,which is a hard trait to shake.
My life is too chaotic (hello parenting and running a business and trying to go to yoga, cook fresh homemade meals, have a social life, not forget birthdays, clean, wash clothes and smile at strangers in the street) to have the brain space to accommodate the kind of comments which are just written to spark a reaction. I don’t have any of myself left to hand over to strangers online who don’t want to achieve anything but to make me question my worth.
I’ve spent days and weeks feeling utterly crippled by the weight of people’s nastiness online and gradually I have realised I no longer want that in my life anymore and actually, I don’t have to have it in my life anymore.
In growing-up and becoming happier and more content in my own skin, I’ve also realised that we all have so many more choices in our day-to-day life than we give ourselves credit for. Don’t like something? Change it. And so I have.
I am still me, I am exactly the same person. Maybe just someone who is a little more savvy and a little more mature and a little more aware of the world around her.