A Walk in The Park

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.

I listened.

“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 …

9 comments:

  1. girl, i know how you feel. sometimes i find myself thinking the same thing and i have to just remind my self that i blog for myself, to make myself happy. i just need to remember that and make sure that it doesn't consume all of my time, you know. lovely post girl.


    love, rach.
    www.so--hi.blogspot.com

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  2. Beautiful and inspiring post. I am glad that you haven't quit blogging. Hope you'll carry this knowledge through every post now. :)

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  3. I read that post too. It really would be nice to get rid of the blog, I totally understand. I feel like I have to be a certain way to fit in to the blogging community. But then, I have made internet friendships that I wouldn't want to get rid of. There are people out there that I've never met who sincerely care about me, and I think that's pretty spectacular.

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  4. Wow! OK I'm so glad I found your blog. I have been in that place before. It's very easy to feel like just another face in the crowd screaming for attention, but it's so much easier to just be yourself and blog for you. The people you want to associate with will eventually find you... it just may take a little time.

    These photos are absolutely fabulous by the way. I especially love those birds in the last one... every time I see a flock flying in the air I am reminded of how beautiful the world is!

    So happy you got liberated! I'm just glad you didn't quit before I found you... :)

    xoxo
    Kristen

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  5. I loved reading this. I read bloggers talking about the down side to the internet world and I know it's going to be a battle not to fall victim to it. If someone says "follow and I'll follow back" I don't even look at their blog. It shouldn't be about the numbers of followers, or doing fake, meaningless posts you know people(but not yourself) will enjoy. Blogging should be about meeting different people with similar interests as you. Worldwide networking. Making friends and learning about each other. What a raw and honest post. Nice to meet you and thanks for visiting my blog :)

    -Arielle
    www.humblepievintage.com

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  6. This is a fantastic post. I've definitely had some of these thoughts creep up on me, you and aura put it so eloquently! I agree that it is so easy to fall into a trap of doing what you think will please others and 'emulating' other bloggers to get 'success' but honestly, the BEST blogs (whether they are 'successful' in numbers or not) are the ones that are genuine. Thanks for this, really made me think.

    WEMAKEPLANS

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  7. thanks for your kind words. i, too, had the strong desire to hit the delete button after reading aura's post. i felt naked after reading it - i put a lot out there in my blog. and i almost, for a second, felt ashamed for it.

    but i stepped back and realized that my intentions are good. bloggers who blog for followers or meaningless shit to give away grind me like nails on a chalkboard. aura definitely had something unique and pure and i think it's a shame her voice is now gone from the blogging world.

    i actually found your blog a while ago - through a comment somewhere, i don't think it was on aura's blog. i'm not one to read every single comment, but yours stood out with wisdom beyond your years.

    you're right, it is hard to find your voice and maintain it amongst all the shit that clutters the interwebs. i know you have a lot to say and a beautiful way to share it.

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  8. we put so much pressure on ourselves. too much. i have to constantly remind myself of what i want my blog to be for ME- a journal that i can look at when i'm lost and remember what makes me tick. something i can see when i'm lonely and remember to reach out. something i can peruse when i'm feeling lackluster and rediscover my inspiration. a collection of my experiences that i will hopefully be able to look back through and reminisce years to come. yes. these are the reasons i blog. for myself. when i feel like 'i haven't posted enough this week' i know it's because i didn't need to. well, i know that once i've drafted something i'm not feeling that great about, and then abandoned it. ;) aura's reasons for leaving are beautiful, to be sure. i have found some beautiful reasons to stay. i'm glad you have too. ;)

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