Turning the lights back on

I haven’t posted anything at all on this blog for about a year, now.

Reason number one is probably a combination of laziness and forgetfulness. But also, I don’t really know what I want this blog to BE.

It started off as a way to document my travels when I first studied abroad, and then somewhere along the way it morphed into an outlet for me to blog exclusively about my photography pursuits. For months, it’s been literally nothing—which is another option in itself, honestly, but recently I’ve been feeling like I want to use this again.

I struggle a lot with the “weirdness” of the internet. I regularly exclaim to people, “Wow, isn’t it so great that any time we have a question we can just look it up on our phones and know the answer immediately?” That’s awesome, and I’ve managed to educate myself exponentially more than I could if I didn’t have this wealth of information conveniently at my fingertips 24/7.

I also read a lot of articles and personal blogs that discuss topics I find relatable and inspiring. As a result, I’ve found writers and bloggers whom I follow regularly, reading everything from their creative writings, personal experiences, philosophies, venting sessions, tutorials, jokes, reviews, and more.

In this way, the internet makes me feel less alone in the world. I physically live in a place where I don’t share a lot in common with the “average” citizen, and that really gets lonely sometimes. I love having a window into the worlds of others that lets me learn about their individual experiences and daily lives.

On the other hand, the vastness of the internet bewilders me. Almost every time that I post something personal online, I’m quickly filled with regret. I begin to worry about who might see it, to wonder whether it could be used against me somehow either professionally or personally, and ultimately, to question why I posted it in the first place.

Online expression is unique and kind of weird–can we just all agree on that?

If I post a picture of myself, I ask myself if I’m seeking attention or compliments, and I worry that I’m opening myself up to be sexualized by a whole bunch of people who barely know me. If I post something about my accomplishments, I worry that I’m bragging. If I post something controversial, I worry about coming off as too opinionated or about isolating friends/family who disagree with me over an issue. If I post something sad or venting, I ask myself what I hope to gain from telling the world my problems.

But the fact is that plenty of people post pictures of themselves (and their lives), talk about their accomplishments, express controversial opinions, and vent about their problems online every day. And I don’t think poorly of them for doing so at all. On the contrary, I’m  curious about other people and I like knowing what people think and do, so I appreciate most things that people share.

With that in mind…

I have a lot of difficulty expressing my emotions to people. I have a close-knit group of friends and I’m very social in general, but I struggle to connect with people in emotionally-intimate ways. Most of the time, I express my negative emotions only when I’m alone. I’m the queen of nonchalantly mentioning to my good friends, “Oh yeah, I cried in my car the whole way to work today. Emotions are a crock of shit, right? You want another beer?” And that’s pretty much the extent of my emotional expression.

The fact is that I am a very emotional person, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve bottled everything up inside of me instead of letting it out, even when I was a little kid. Expressing my emotions is something I have so little practice doing that I don’t even know where to begin trying to change that about myself.

Luckily, I’ve always had writing.

Writing is one of the only ways that I can let out the things I feel inside, and also a way that I can work through them. If I want to say something heartfelt to someone, I’ll probably make the person a card or write a note and stand embarrassedly to the side while he/she reads it, rather than verbalize it directly. I’ve also kept journals and similar things for years, but nowadays I write in them very sporadically, struggling to fit time for it into my schedule even though I know it’s good for my well-being.

Moreover, journaling is sort of like hitting a tennis ball at the wall by yourself. You’re free to explore the minutiae of the sensations in yourself and experiment with them to produce a better, more accurate hit, but it doesn’t give you the challenge or sense of satisfaction that playing with another person does.

I’ve just lived a very tough year, hands-down the toughest of my life. Around this time last year, I feel like I started tumbling down into a canyon. At first the slope was gradual and the terrain gentle, and it felt deliriously fun, like when I used to roll down grassy hills as a kid. But the sandy ground gave way to sharp stones and some sudden drop-offs, and it quickly stopped being fun anymore. In May, I found myself unbelievably far at the bottom, beaten and miserable.

Since then, I’ve been climbing out of this hole alone, and it hasn’t been easy. Mostly I’ve been climbing out by finding a new purpose in life—a new career path, a renewed thirst for knowledge, a more confident assertion of my intelligence.

I often use this progress as a distraction from addressing my feelings, which have yet to heal. I love talking about science, psychology, and my future career while studying hard and trying to get into graduate school, because these are such concrete, measurable things to focus on. My to-do lists buoy me up and urge me forward, and I’m grateful for them.

But I avoid any discussion of my personal life, because I am still essentially living in a state of devastation. I experienced more trauma and violence this year than ever before in my life, and my heart is very worn out from it. I feel like my inner experience is still so messy, ugly, and fraught with hurt that I can’t bear to invite anyone inside at all.

Well, if there’s one thing I know about mental health AND personal progress in general, it’s that you absolutely MUST do things that are uncomfortable if you want to grow. You SHOULD be scared, but you should do the things that scare you anyway, because living life within the confines of your fears will inhibit your progress and get you into the habit of seeing fears as a facts rather than feelings.

It is not a FACT that I cannot express myself to others. It’s a fact that I have difficulty with it, and a fact that I’m afraid to try doing it, but my fear is not representative of true threats that exist. And, the rewards I’d earn for facing this fear look like they could be great.

So, here’s what I’m thinking.

I have lots of thoughts and ideas stewing in my head all the time. I’m also perpetually caught in the middle of several projects, artistic or otherwise. I’d really like to be able to share my life, my endeavors, and my feelings a little more.

I’d like this blog to be sort of a catch-all for anything I feel like posting about. Photography projects, fashion exhibitions, art attempts, album discussions dissections (because the world just won’t be the same without me explaining precisely why Preservation by the Kinks is a fantastic representation of the follies of political extremism WHILE ALSO carrying some fabulous musical motifs throughout it!), bits of my creative writing (maybe even my POETRY, gasp, vomit, probably not),  bits of my philosophies, reflections on neuroscience topics, and just MAYBE some genuine feelings interspersed in there, too.

I have to get the hell over the whole, “but why am I internetting?” thing and recognize that I’m grateful for other people internetting in ways that are helpful and meaningful to me. This big ol’ confusing information superhighway is such a ridiculously powerful resource, and I’ve been trying to make my 24th year all about using my resources to their fullest potentials, so it would be silly to neglect it.

Anyway. Thank you for reading–and I mean that. It feels good to shout into something that’s slightly more substantial than a void.

And I guess… watch this space? We’ll see.

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