For too long now I’ve been allowing myself to fall into a trap. The kind of all-consuming trap where the edicts of others who know how to navigate the world of blogging well, have left me feeling like a caged animal. “Do this!” they proclaim while pointing out all the ways it helped them to grow as a blogger. Emphasizing the importance of branding and finding your niche – distracting me from developing actual content and focusing too much on image, and putting me in a neatly ordered box and stacking me with others in boxes just like mine.
I am not a brand. I am a person.
I do not fit properly in my box. I’m too big for it. Are boxes the new boots?
I’m an individual (just like everyone else) and even if there ends up being similarities between me and another? The differences will still be enough to tell us apart.
For so long I battled with the idea of finding a niche for myself, and even when I found it, there were those who had the audacity to inform me that my niche was “too broad” and I needed to narrow it down some more.
I don’t have time for such narrow-minded thinking.
I have announced on both Twitter and Facebook that there were changes coming to my blog. I’m going through and sorting some things out at the moment, but in a few days time, this post will be the first post on my blog. That’s right. All previous posts will be gone.
I’ve decided I need a clean(ish) slate right now. One where I haven’t been worrying about SEO, niches, “am I a train-wreck blogger?” (because I know now that the answer is “yes” and I just don’t give any cares anymore), popularity, reach, and how many people I’ll offend this time.
I need somewhere that is a safe-haven, and not just for me. I need to be able to feel free sharing creative projects, ideas, and experiences. I also need to feel that I’m helping and encouraging other creatives to feel like they can do the same, and like they aren’t alone.
And Merlin’s beard! If I go on trips to places like Bendigo and take photos of the journey home (I was in Bendigo yesterday for a funeral, it didn’t feel right taking photos while there at that time) then gosh darn, I’m going to share them with you here!
From now on I will be openly fangirling at crazy levels (and not listening when you tell me to share more than just posts about Adrian Ivashkov (this is my blog – not yours! Get your own if mine is a problem for you)), I’ll be sharing my creative projects and their development, and I’ll also occasionally use this blog as a platform to discuss my battles with mental illness and to document my daily life. I’m going to post when I like, and however often I feel like it. My personal branding can take a long walk off a short pier.
When I first hinted at the possibility of my making these changes to my blog, the comment I heard most was along the lines of “don’t get rid of your event recap posts!” which I had already planned on keeping in some capacity anyway. I will be deleting those posts, but not before moving their contents to pages so that they’re still available to read. The events I’ve recapped have all been a fun part of the journey I’ve been on, and have seen the formation of some wonderful friendships that I treasure – they deserve to stay.
Some posts that are coming down, will first be saved to my computer. That way if I ever feel like re-hashing some of my ideas, I’ll put some more thought into them and be sharing them less as a means to maintain an online social presence and more because I feel it’s something I consider to be important.
What about my book reviews? Yep. Those are coming down too. I’ll be editing them and gradually re-sharing them, mixed in with new reviews too of course. At the moment I just have an overwhelming sense of “I can do better”. Because in spite of what gets preached about blogging – this space isn’t about you. This space is entirely about me, and I’m so grateful that you’re along for the ride and want to be a part of my life.
If I ever have a brilliant idea for a business? Then I have an idea about how to navigate the online waters. I myself am not a business though, and it’s time I stop feeling the pressure to operate like one all in the name of writing a blog!
So now it’s time for me to step back and return to my blogging roots. The ones where I share art, writing, and aspects of my life. The ones where sharing those things make me sick to my stomach, but it’s somehow different. It’s not because I worry that people will hate me or what I do, but rather because I’m letting a piece of myself go – I’m putting myself on display and making myself vulnerable – and I’m throwing myself into the void and hoping someone will like what I do.
Worrying about hate, versus like. Seems like the same thing really, but I assure you: it’s not.
So. Here’s to letting the sun set on the chapter of my life where I worry about people hating me!
All cheesiness aside, it’s time now to let you into my life and to allow you the chance to start getting to know me. Even the trivial things like how these photos of the sun getting closer to the horizon were actually taken just near my house.
A lady from the Bendigo assembly of my church passed away last week, and my mum is close friends with one of her daughters. So she was going up to support her friend, but didn’t want to go alone. Not long after I volunteered to accompany her, my dad managed to get some time off work to go as well, but I decided I would still go because I knew the family as well.
The service was lovely – inasmuch as a funeral service is of course. It’s always sad for the loss of someone when you care about them, but funerals at my church are always so full of hope and it was definitely a celebration of the life of a woman who was determined and full of life.
Strange, entirely out of place thoughts, have the tendency to strike me down at times when they shouldn’t. Like yesterday when they began showing the slideshow of photos from the life of this lady.
When my generation start dying in their older age, all the photos will have already been seen by all on Facebook (and whatever follows Facebook). No one will really engage with what our lives were about because we don’t ever keep any of these to ourselves. Further to that, they’ll all be selfies. We’re all going to be trying to present ourselves in the way we want people to view us, rather than letting people see who we really are. Rather than letting people get a glimpse of our lives.
A thought further driven home for me when after the service, my mum’s friend handed me some photos she’d found of my parents when they were younger – younger than I am now – and I’d never seen them before. I’d never even known about this particular point in their lives. It was lovely too, because the memories of that time were enough to make my mum’s friend laugh.
I would like to note: I am not opposed to selfies – not even slightly. I think there is an art to them, and they’re the new media equivalent of a self-portrait, and those things have been around in some capacity since the beginning of time. But so many of them look the same. So few of them show the other important people, or events, in your life. They also don’t show how other people perceive you – and that’s important too.
I know for me that there are about 10 years of my life now, where there are very few photos proving that I exist. Initially I was depressed and cut off from pretty much all of my friends – and that was at a pretty important age too. I was alone and so full of hatred for the world. But mostly for myself. As result, I wasn’t ever involved in anything and I slipped out of existence as far as visually preserved memories go. Then later with the rise of the internet for people who weren’t already nerdburgers like myself, and my slow return to having friendships, more and more was being shared online. I loved taking photos, and letting people be a part of my life – I wanted to share that online, including photos of my friends. They didn’t like that though, and all cringed and got irritated when I busted out my camera. Understandable. From there though, I found that if I ever was in photos, people were cutting me out. I’m too fat. Not photogenic. Not as pretty as anyone else?
Whatever. I don’t care about that so much anymore. Only the part where there is very little proof of my existence in this time of my life.
As a society though, we’ve gone from hating having photos taken of ourselves, to taking regular selfies. No matter my appreciation for the art of them, there is no denying there is also a lot of vanity behind them. They also illustrate our constant grappling for control in our lives. Because people still don’t like having photos taken unless they’re in complete control, enabling them to get what they perceive to be the best possible angle of themselves.
I want to find a life worth living. A life with purpose I can be passionate about. A life where I can connect with others and not have them look at me like I have two heads. A life where I can be a crazy fangirl and not be made to feel like there is something wrong with me.
And just like everyone else, I want to be remembered.
Not for my selfies. Not for my achievements (if I ever have any, because at the moment even just in life, I keep having my failures slammed in my face and reminding me that I haven’t actually had any achievements yet). Not for my art.
For the lives I impacted with fun and positivity. For the laughter I had, and inspired in others. For my crazy ideas. For my infectious bouncy hyperactivity when I get excited about something.
These are all things that used to have a funny way of being preserved in photography. These days though, our lives are perhaps a little over-curated. Bring back the candid shots!
Just my two cents, and if you’ve made it this far? Congratulations! And thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to put up with my crazy and get to know me.
Here, have some more car-in-transit-window-shots of the beautiful corner of the world I live in as a token of my appreciation.
Actually, this photo makes me sad. Those trees have still not really recovered from Black Saturday. There are a lot out there like that from those terrible fires and it makes me tear up. That said, in there, I can also see hope.