I almost quit blogging.
I almost quit thinking about it. I felt like giving up. I nearly logged into Dashboard and went through the motions—the simple, yet slightly hidden steps necessary to erase two and a half years’ worth of memories and scribbles and pictures and words and images and comments and ramblings.
I nearly did it.
The feeling intensified after Aura, a blogger whose posts I have followed since 2009, “Jumped Ship.” She was beautiful. Her words were beautiful. Each post was filled with dozens of images of her life in Oklahoma, her travels about the country, her family. She was enriching, engaging, inspiring. I held to each of her words, my imagination soaked in imagery.
She spoke the truth.
“The land of blogs and Twitter and Pinterest are places where some people spend hours searching for inspiration, direction, and a pretty picture of what they want their life to be. But they are also places of dishonesty, self-denial, and jealousy. There are so many voices out there, that sometimes it becomes difficult to hear your own over the loud hum of ten thousand photos telling you what you are supposed to wear and eat and think. An open invitation to compare yourself and fall short. It is overwhelming, and over the last few months I have had to question where my own voice was heading with this outside influence.”
It’s relatable and understandable, her thoughts. With each new branch of social media, we are forced to embrace a piece of our pasts—pieces that we have attempted to forgive, box up, rip out, grow from, learn from or forget. When confronted with our actions, we are shamed or embarrassed. We shudder to think of how we turned our backs on change and instead ran with open arms to that which we found most comforting.
It is easy to be caught and stuck, wriggling and squirming, in virtual webs. We spend hours on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and excuse our “stalking” and “researching” and “learning” and “browsing” and “buying” and “shopping” as necessary addictions.
I, too, spent late hours scheduling posts. I would “research” images, browse blogs and biographies for “inspiration” that was, and still is, unnecessary. I scheduled memes, three a week, for months ahead of time. I stalked photography sites for stunning photos, not bothering to breathe for a moment, pause—just for one, two, three seconds—and truly examine what I was looking at.
What I ended up with was a collection of meaningless posts; information that was not special to me. I was not proud of what I was doing; I was exhausted and overwhelmed, eager to please non-existent followers and a blogging community that had already cemented itself in comparisons. Obsessed with numbers and giveaways and posts and tweets, I became discouraged, and saw in myself only insecurities and short-comings.
I wasn’t happy with my voice because it wasn’t my voice that I was using. It was the voice of others—of the dozens and hundreds and thousands of other bloggers, photographers, writers and thinkers—that I was trying to emulate.
I was taking a walk in the park when I realized that things to change.
In fact, they already had.
I had packed my car full of belongings, clothes mostly, and driven 12 hours to Indiana with the hopes of securing a position. Soon after, my hopes, though not crushed, were humbled. Again, I find myself in an unemployed, vulnerable position—one that gives me time to peruse the likes of social media.
There are so many wonderful things—photos, ideas, words, beliefs. There are wonderful people as well, but sometimes it is necessary to sift through the selfish “I’LL FOLLOW YOU BACK IF YOU FOLLOW ME” requests. It is disheartening to see these queries, because you are quickly and bluntly reminded that it is not the content, but the numbers, that individuals consider.
In her last post, Aura wrote that “life lived when not a single person is looking is quite different than this online world. Things move a lot slower, quieter, and more simply. Days are longer, we speak softer, and somehow all those lost minutes of the day come together to form an extra hour or two to focus on the things that really matter.”
In the park, these words brushed across my forehead in the breeze, became tangled in my curls. They bounced off my cheeks, swirled around my feet as I crunched across leaves and wet grass. Days are longer. Simpler. Slower. Quieter. I stood near the banks of Riley’s “old swimmin’ hole” and watched as a mother and her two young sons paraded about the playground. Up the slides. Down the slides. Run. Run. Race up the steps. Jump. Run. Fall into the mulch. Giggles and laughter and smiles. Happiness.
I smiled, looking at my boots, damp with morning dew and delicately spaced between geese feathers. There were several of the birds in the water, elegantly gliding and speaking to each other in a comforting, glottal language. The trees were yellow, golden with sunlight and cloaked in a mystical, mesmerizing fog.
Children laughed. Ducks waded into the water. A leaf fell. A highlighted, ringing pitch of sunlight brushed past my ear. I watched another golden leaf drift downward, slowly, floating for just a moment before settling onto the ground with other forgotten, aged leaves. Simpler. Slower. Quieter. Peaceful.
It was so peaceful.
I knew what I had to do.
Gone were the inane posts, the pessimistic thoughts from my first months of blogging. Gone were the negative associations, the pointless ramblings, the repetitive Wednesday-Friday memes.
Two-hundred and twenty posts … gone.
… it was liberating …