Monday, January 21, 2013

Let's Get Real

I've been blogging/journaling since 2001, so this year marks twelve years. Twelve! Twelve years of writing about my life, or at least my version of my life. I find myself revisiting the past often, and the easiest way is to read old entries. Back before Blogging truly made its impact on the world, I was a Livejournaler. Were you? A lot of my friends were. It was a space that we used to reflect on our life, an outlet for expressing ourselves. With Livejournal (commonly known as LJ) I could be myself. And believe me, I was! All inhibitions were lost in LJ-land. I freely wrote about the mostly-mundane comings and goings of my life -- high school, band, classes, drama. Eventually it became a space to take those 100-question surveys, to post digital photographs, copy-and-paste AIM conversations (ahhh, remember the good ole days of AIM??), and mostly continue to beeee yourself. Sometimes LJ was used to manipulate friends, just another device to turn others against one another. LJ had its up and it had its downs, but for the most part, you can say that it was Real. With a capital R.

I think the biggest difference between the Blogosphere and LJ is the Friends list (in LJ-land, called flist or f-list). Way before Facebook days, this was the way to invite others to your inner circle. By placing someone on your f-list, you have granted them access to your personal journal. Of course, you could choose if your LJ was private or public (mine was public for most of its use and then turned to private), so your friends could read your privately published posts, and even from there you could be more selective by making the post completely secret or only allowing certain people access to your posting. It's awesome! You can write whatever you Feel (capital F), even air your grievances, and not worry about judgement, or comparing yourself, and you can control (big pro!) who actually sees it. In Blogosphere, everything is public (unless of course you make it private, and can also control who sees it much like LJ, but in general I think more people read a public Blog -- people you don't even know -- and if you privatize it, those folks aren't gutsy enough to "friend" you). In LJ-land, sure you "stalk" people, but it's more acceptable to add random people and not feel strange about it.

Case in point: this is how my husband and I met.

[Okay, so it was actually through Deadjournal, which is the same exact format of LJ, except it's called DJ - and in my mind that meant I could write about even more secret the courtship of myself and a certain older boyfriend, who also happened to be a non-staff band instructor (Dang, things just got Real.).]

So, J. and I met through the internet, technically. The Real story seems so long and drawn out, that unless we feel like we have time to explain the inner workings of LJ -- and DJ -- to the person asking, we usually just sum up our story as: We met through college friends. Which is partly true. Sort of. But that's another story, and not the point of this one.

While continuing to write in my LJ, I started this blog in 2009. If you have gone that far back, you know its original intent was to document my summer in Columbia (the summer before I graduated nursing school and had a two-and-a-half month externship at place I'm currently employed). J. and I were just dating then, and while "just dating" actually meant "serious dating," and a much different type of courtship than the aforementioned one with my non-staff band instructor, we didn't really know what was in store for our future. Around that time, Blogging had become more common, and I thought it would be a better public space to document my time here. I never really considered that I would continue to write in this forum (and if you go back, you'll see that I pretty much skipped the engagement and the wedding) until I started doing it with the intention of making it more photo-travel focused. There seems to be less photo and less travel that I had hoped for and it became a substitute in many ways to my Livejournal. But this type of Blog was never like my LJ and I often remarked that I wrote about negative things in my LJ (the Real stuff) and tried to display only the positive things here. That wasn't so bad, but it kind of made me sad that there was this disconnect -- that I didn't feel like I could be myself. But how do you all of a sudden start writing about really personal things, especially when anyone could be reading? The feel of privacy that you get in LJ-land (even though, I know, it technically is not private) is completely lost in the Blogosphere.

So you don't write about personal things. You create lists, you latch onto other ideas that your friends are circulating. You write about your glorious life and you pretend like everything is hunky-dory. When things really aren't okay, you log into your Livejournal account and vent there. The few friends that still use LJ comment and sometimes make you feel better, but really, it's the writing-it-out-and-not-caring-who-reads that makes you feel better. And knowing it's your old friend LJ that you are communicating with. Because sometimes the stuff you write about, you don't want others to hear. It's too personal, they will judge, and it's hard to look someone in the eye after that. (And that's when you can choose to make your LJ post completely secret so no one reads.... Okay, so I know that is maybe the point of a personal paper-pen writing journal/diary, but we're in the digital age, folks, and this is now how we communicate.)

When I stopped feeling comfortable writing about things on my mind, I stopped feeling comfortable with myself. And I think that's what partly kickstarted this losing battle with myself.

Is this part of the growing up process? Feeling like you have lost parts of yourself that you once had? Sure, it only makes sense. I am not the same person -- mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally -- as I was at the age of 14 when I began divulging my life to the internet. But there are parts of myself that I have lost that deserve to be back in my life. Parts that can be back in my life. Parts lost that I blamed on getting married. Parts that marriage doesn't deserve to be the scapegoat. Parts that I need back in my life.

I still don't know exactly how to get back to being Real. But I am going to consciously try to not care about what I post -- not care if my friends will read it, not care if it makes me look good/bad, not care about how wonderful my writing is, and not care if it's a topic that interests others. Few Bloggers do I follow that really meet this criteria but I am going to try. Try to figure out which parts of my old self that belong in my new life and how to make that happen. Let's get Real.

(For reals.)

[Real blogging here and here and here.]


M. said...

<3 happy to read this. Was just thinking something similar about LJ.

Tiffany said...

I had a livejournal in college... I must say, a lot of my entries make me cringe. I can't believe I just put all that stuff out there!!

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