I stumbled across an old blog post of mine the other day and as I was reading it, completely disconnected from the emotions I was spilling out into the public domain, I was taken aback by how brutally honest it was.
It was probably six or so years ago that I wrote it and I wasn’t embarrassed as I read it or struck by a burning desire to delete it (along with the countless other posts written in the same tone) but I was, shall we say, *aware* of the fact I wouldn’t share everything I wrote then, now.
Maybe that’s easy to say because a lot of the stuff I was feeling then simply isn’t relevant now, but I do know that as I’ve gotten older a filter has established itself. I’ve become more private. There are parts of my life that are a no-go-zone for blog content, despite the fact that I know they’d often make for the juiciest posts.
It’s extremely difficult to tread this line sometimes.
A big part of why my blogs of old became widely read was the fact that they were brutally honest. I know how important it is to talk about the stuff other people won’t talk about. I remember every comment or email or tweet from the people who’d say THANK YOU for covering a certain topic. I felt like I helped people simply by even mentioning certain unmentionables. (I *occasionally* helped people, I’m not making out I was some sort of Childline for young women finding their way in the world just because I’d talk about periods or shitty boyfriends).
Megababe Nat Wall blogged about this kind of thing recently (def read it) and she talked about the struggle between being fiercely private but also wanting to show off. She knows she likes to read diary-esque blog posts more than any other type (as do I, for that matter) but that it can be hard to be that type of blogger: to open up your diary to the world. Traditionally diaries are kept locked away and stuffed under a mattress of course, not posted publicly for the whole world to potentially devour.
As a blogger, I never try to paint some aspirational bullshit lifestyle that glosses over all the bad stuff. Honesty is the backbone of what my blog is about. I’d have no interest in doing this if I wasn’t being genuine 100% of the time when I’m writing.
But I know that there are things I choose not to blog about. Important life things that I think I could do justice to as subject matter, but I choose not to.
Initially, I felt like these choices were taken out of my hands and made for me. My husband categorically does not want to be featured anywhere in this blog. You’ve never seen him on here and whilst I may allude to him (usually to tease him, sorry baaaaaaabe!) a reader couldn’t piece together a great deal about about him.
It used to annoy me that I couldn’t post about certain things “because of him being so bloody private”. I don’t even mean particularly personal things, just innocuous things he’d rather weren’t public because they involved him. But in time I’ve come around away to his way of thinking. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve “had to” or because I’ve just grown up.
Ya see my default mode is to show off. I’m one of those girls who makes friends by sharing secrets. It’s not until hours later that it might dawn on me that it was weird to tell a stranger in a bar about MY BIG MASSIVE LIFE ISSUE. I see embarrassingly personal tales as the ultimate form of social currency. People love being treated to a secret…and perhaps I traded on this for a bit too long.
I suppose I just always thought it was ok because they were always my secrets to tell. My issues. My dramas. My feelings. (ME ME ME, are you spotting a theme here?). Yet how often is it just about us?
I’d love to live by the idea that you should “blog like nobody’s reading”, but people ARE reading. My family are reading. My in-laws are reading. My clients are reading. My husband’s colleagues are reading. (Hey you guys! I’ll never stop finding this weird!).
This stuff matters.
I’ve tried to examine why I really WANT to share certain topics and I worry about the answers.
Is it for attention? That’s not very healthy.
Is it simply to document how I’m feeling? That’s something I could do offline.
Is it because of traffic? Brutally honest blog posts get a tonne of traffic because most people don’t have the balls (boobs) to write them, but are increased pageviews really “a reason” to spill your secrets? Especially if you’re invading the privacy of the people who matter to you IRL in the process?
Is it because I want advice from other people in the same position? This, I think, is a fair enough reason to share something particularly personal. Where I have written very honest posts recently (like about coming off the pill, for example) the subsequent conversations have been invaluable. They helped me and they helped others.
As a natural extrovert it’s definitely strange to feel yourself self-edit. I realise most people gain this skill quite young (believe it or not it’s actually quite rare to want everyone and their sister to know your personal business, who knew?!) but I’m quite enjoying it. I like having little secrets that actually *are* secrets. I appreciate more the face to face heart to hearts I have (that’s a lot of hearts and faces) but I still see the importance in sharing certain things online, especially if you have a platform to do it and the conversations can be useful to others.
One thing I keep saying to myself when I’m annoyed I can’t post about something (god, how utterly self-indulgent) is that I can always write reflective posts in the future. I’ve been doing that for the wedding for example. I didn’t want to blog about it in depth at the time but now a year or so has passed I’m happy to bang on about it to all and sundry.
Similarly now that I’m over my jaw saga, I am tempted to write about it again. It wouldn’t have the rawness that writing something “in the now” has, but it would come with the benefit of hindsight. And hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Hopefully this doesn’t come across like I’ve got a tonne of secrets that I’m not sharing because I really don’t. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
I’d love to hear how other bloggers/oversharers have tackled this as they’ve gotten older. Maybe it’s not an age thing at all, I’m just aware that I’m in the type of relationship now where my worries, troubles and excitement are rarely mine alone. By sharing my deepest darkest secrets, I’m often sharing someone else’s too.
And fear not, the things I do share on here will continue to be brutally honest. After all, I don’t know how to use Photoshop and pretending to be someone else is exhausting 🙂