About a year ago, a friend of mine hurled some words at me during an exchange that weirdly escalated into an uncomfortable misunderstanding and it stuck with me like an annoying fly all these months later. I wanted to ignore it, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t even directly related to what we were arguing about and it was an offhanded remark, maybe even a cheap shot, but there was some truth to it. It made me examine some of the reasons why we blog and put ourselves out there in social media. Is blogging a creative release? Yes. Is it self promotional for the business? Sure. Is it a way to connect with people and form some sort of community? Yeah, I guess so. But is blogging also narcissistic? Probably, to some extent.
But here’s a tougher question, and the point that was being inferred by my friend’s remark: Am I relying too much on the blog and twitter for validation and approval from others (mostly strangers at that) rather than seeking acceptance from within? Is it to fill some sort of void, an emptiness, a loneliness, to declare that I am here so I don’t feel invisible otherwise? Um…ouch.
I think it goes without saying that it feels good when someone likes or retweets a post or leaves a comment. Let’s not mince words here; it’s an ego boost, however small (“somebody likes me!”). When it doesn’t happen or starts happening less, you start questioning yourself – your words, your work, your product. I’m not that self confident that I’m immune to this. Far from it in fact, and I hate that at this age I still struggle with some of the same insecurity around friendships, socialization and acceptance that I dealt with in middle school. I’m asking you, as a
42 43 year old woman, why does this bullshit still happen? Aren’t we past this? Or does all of this information saturation on social media make it too easy to fall into old traps of insecurity and comparisons?
Clearly, I have a lot of work to do on myself. At this age, again.
I was changing one of the lights in the bathroom the other day and the bulb slipped out of my hands and shattered to pieces in the sink. It immediately took me back to high school. Why? One of the more memorable and challenging assignments in junior year drawing class was drawing a light bulb. We had to put a light bulb in a padded bag, smash it, spill out the pieces onto a surface and draw exactly how it landed. You could choose your perspective from where you wanted to draw, but you couldn’t move the pieces. Sounds like some metaphor for life, doesn’t it? It’s funny, but I just stared at the broken light bulb for 5 minutes thinking back to a time when I used to have so much more focus to study and draw that intently for hours at a time, uninterrupted. Where has the focus gone? In those days, the world was smaller and I only sought validation and approval from my little circle, not from thousands of strangers. It feels a bit unsettling to realize this.
So, I don’t want to blog for the wrong reasons (wrong for me, that is). I want to blog because it’s still a creative outlet and it still helps promote our business. As for the rest – self confidence, self acceptance and validation – I’m just going to have to spend time with myself without some of the distractions and noise of social media to tackle that one, despite the fear of feeling disconnected or irrelevant.
Sometimes criticism hurts because the truth hurts. But sometimes criticism can make you face something that you didn’t want to see before.