(That picture is ironically giving more away about me than this blog post suggests. Note - I was playing dress ups with Mum's glasses (my vision is 20/20), and no one ever sees me in my dressing gown. You are now.)
When I blog, I look inside myself. I reach for the shiny bits, the full heart – bursting with love for so many things - and the darkness. When I blog I come to know myself. I work things out and pick myself up. I stretch myself. I create opportunities. And I make connections. I find myself through words.
Sometimes writing is therapy. I shed my skin in a literal way, and I shed my skin through writing. My blog is an extension of me - another body part, if you like. So it’s no wonder I feel like I grow thicker skin, shed my skin and feel fiercely protective and proud of my words.
The irony of spending so much time inside, writing about myself for the outside world, is that I am now connected to more people than ever. I love meeting people this way – connecting with like-minded people and also those I'd probably never meet if it weren't for their words on my screen.
Lately, I find myself retreating, giving away less of myself than I used to do. I used to be all about writing about the every day, and writing the very personal. There was a time I felt that I lived to blog. I’d go to concerts with a notebook, not immersing myself in the glorious music experience, and stay up all night to ensure my review was the first online the next day. I’d share a lot. But I don't want for the day to come when I tell one of my closest friends to go read about me on my blog.
I've always been about putting the best of me on show. But I have had the urge to put less of me on show. I've become more self conscious of baring my soul online. Some call blogging brave, others call it stupid. Many call it narcissistic. I don't want to give so much of my soul away anymore.
I've been blogging more about the issues that matter to me, employing some of the journalism skills I was taught, seeking others' opinions, and writing with the purpose of future paid publication. I'm more vocal that way.
Recently I experienced verbal abuse because of my skin by a taxi driver. I wrote about it on my blog – it was the most personal piece I’d done in a while – and then I was asked to write a piece about it for a national news site. I received an apology, and my story was then picked up on a national news site. My story and picture was top story for two days. The response has been quite positive. But there were readers who were nasty. They judged me for my reaction. I wanted to jump in and say, "but you don't know the whole of me". They read a short story about me and arrived at my blog out of context. And then I remember, I haven't given them everything. They only know me in two dimensional form from a 300 word news story.
(There's more - contact received that has truly scared me - but I won't write about that here.)
People read my blog with no back story. No context. Others know every word I write. And then there are those who will defend me because they know me as a whole. They know more about me than what I share on my blog.
This post was originally written for the Voices of 2013 blogging competition, which I am a finalist in.