The old me chose to freak out while doing things like golfing,
because people watching me perform made me nervous, because when people watch me perform I can feel nervous. I tried golfing years ago– alone on a near-empty course. I believed once I got ‘good at it’ I’d be able to let myself golf around others.
This new me went golfing last week with a group of people. Oh, I was nervous. And I’m still not ‘good at it.’ Which was the point. I wanted to practice keeping myself calm in situations where I still want to freak out about being watched. I got the highest (translated:worst) score of the group. But I got through it without panicking and running home. I thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors and visiting with friends. So I feel that I won the game.
Like golf, I’ve tried blogging before. I knew the temptations and snares it holds for someone like me. If I get lots of traffic,
it makes me nervous; I can get nervous. If I get no traffic, it makes me feel a worse kind of nervous; I can feel an even worse kind of nervous.
I am learning how to reframe thoughts so that I am the one responsible for my own emotions–hence the strike outs and rewrites in the above paragraphs. Plus I wanted to overcome my lingering fears regarding publishing my work; and a blog works well for that.
The first time I started a blog, nearly a decade ago, a website developer was helping me get established as a self-published author. She recommended I blog on a social media site for Christian authors.
I became quite popular there. I got ‘good at it’: personalized photos, consistent posts with a word count of 300-700, hyperlinks whenever possible. Linking to other bloggers. Asking lots of questions of readers. Commenting on other blogs often. Oh, I was nervous too. I just flat out ignored the performance anxiety and reveled in being popular. In reality, though, I wasn’t growing or overcoming a thing, and my ego was being puffed up and puffed up until…
It all fell apart.
My popularity online didn’t translate to a bump in sales, after the books hit the market. My followers were mostly other writers, short on funds themselves and hoping to sell their own stuff. I lost money, rather than making any. And I’d spent so much time online that I had a mess in my off-line life.
That original online presence is deleted now. Although I’ve heard that nothing ever gets truly deleted from the internet because there is a cave dug into a mountain in Utah storing all of it. Every shameful bit of it. Forever.
Speaking of shame, I have overcome a lot of it. But I also understand how weak I am as a result of surviving childhood abuse. I dislike the emotions that I feel when I’m being watched. Being passed over also brings up hard emotions for me. I love the truth. It burns a hole inside of me at times. Yet I still shy from offending anyone. I know I’m choosing avoidance there. Likewise, it is a choice to let sadness or happiness depend upon a wordpress view chart. So, yes, I am weak, but I am moving forward regardless because that’s the entire point of Philippians 4:13 and 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.
I am also mindful that I could get sucked into an online world of emotional sharing that seems safe but is anything but when I let it feed my insatiable hunger for love. All of which comes down to decisions about where I want to run when troubled. I want God to fill that hunger for love. My heart and my life feels best when that happens.
I am, overall, really happy with my life. I finally have solid relationships. I nurture them with face to face time. When I’m not sabotaging our marriage, I’m rediscovering being in love with my BHH and keeping a weekly date night. I’m figuring out changes in my work life so I have time to finish a novel. With my children grown, I find I do have a bit of room for an online presence as well. But I want to be careful with it. I don’t want a big presence. Hence if I’ve made myself known on your blog, it’s because I liked being there. Keep up the great work. I appreciate what you are doing. The fun part of blogging is that writers fuel other writers. I like that about it. Thanks for checking in here!
I also like real world feedback too. From the start of this blog, my BHH has read each post. (He never read my old one, mainly because I didn’t want to share it with him). Now I find that his comments are more gratifying than waiting for WordPress notifications. In addition, I have invited a few real-world-loved-ones to follow along, with the promise that they will keep my anonymous identity quiet.
It was, and it will be, my real life network who will pick up whatever pieces of me are left after I’ve lost another battle. I want to include them here too.
At its worst the blogging world can leave you with a mess in your real life. At it’s best, though, writing a blog can strengthen existing relationships and help you find your unique voice as a writer. I’m seeing that happen now in my marriage. I’m not sure my writing has improved in the eyes of others. Cue scary music in the background while my heart races and fear tries to enlarge my amygdala…
do others like my posts?
Hmm. ‘Does God like my posts?’ and… ‘do I?‘
I think so…and yes. Which means I’m winning here no matter what the score card shows.