>Where do I go from here?

>

This will be my 2,045th post

I have been struggling for sometime now with the great quandary many bloggers know and have known: should I continue blogging and, if so, why?

When I started blogging, I felt I had a voice that needed to be set free. SO many things in life frustrated me and I felt the need to speak out against the status quo. As an “anonymous” voice on the web, I believed I could be the voice for people that shirked many of the modern day conventions to live their lives free of the restrictions set by others.

I wanted to be out and proud about every aspect of my life and be a visible part of the “minority within the minority” that doesn’t always easily find his place among his peers or community.

I never expected to discover another community within the blogosphere. To meet and get to know and interact with people all over the country (and even world) who also had a voices and identities on the web. And I definitely never expected to make real friends (or enemies, for that matter) through blogging; nor did I think any of my real life, local friends would find their way onto my corner of the www.

Blogging has surprised me by what it has brought into and taken away from my life. People I would never have met and experiences I would never have had but for my blog. Time spent plugging away at posts or uploading pictures, sometimes with excitement, sometimes with anxiety sometimes out of a sense of obligation to my followers.

Sadly, with all of that pleasure I have experienced and the wonderful people I have met and interacted with through my blog, it has also brought me pain I might never have known, as well; some relationships that began here ended here; some pre-existing relationships became tumultuous because of things I expressed here. Some recovered, some didn’t. Strangers attacked me anonymously here, as I became a target of other bloggers and identities who did not believe I had a right to exist and live my life as I have chosen to and chastised me for expressing my views that differed from theirs.

Much of this, although not all of it, I anticipated. Anytime you put yourself out there, as honestly as possible, wearing your heart on your sleeve, people are bound to take advantage of that and see it as a weakness. They will criticize you for your beliefs and way of life for living in a way that does not validate their own choices. Your visibility threatens their way of life and beliefs, because you represent an “other” way of being that is not reigned in my public approval, social conformity or religious sculpting. But I stepped on that path the day I came out as a gay man and refused to remain in the closet, to any degree, for anyone. I further placed my self on the fringe, abetted by my blogging, as I declared my zero tolerance for bigotry, hatred, judgment and violence; outed myself as a nudist, atheist and non-monogamist; spoke my truth even when I knew it was not what others wanted to hear and would put my good standing with them at risk.

I have also admitted my own weaknesses and shames on here; my fears and paranoia. I have acknowledged, in my self-proclaimed “bravery”, my fear of judgment and reproach by both those I care about and strangers alike. I have admitted when I’ve done wrong or harm and when I’ve struggled, both mentally and physically, with the challenges life has thrown at me. I have documented my success and failures with my weight, exercise, marriage, friendships, jobs, finances and social life.

But I find it harder and harder to use my blog for its original purpose. As I have made enemies, they have tried to use this as a window into my life to hurt me or keep track of me for whatever reason. As I have made friends, I have hesitated more and more to express things that I feel or think for fear they would be hurt or offended or misunderstand. As I have come out more in all the aspects of my life, I have worried that friends, family and co-workers may or have stumbled onto my blog and discovered things that, although I’m not the least bit ashamed of, I am NOT comfortable sharing with them given the nature or preferred limitations of our relationships. And despite my making every effort to express my own personal views without insulting or offending others, there just seems to be an inability for people to hear what I have to say, even expressed as my own concerns, beliefs or worries, without taking offense and misinterpreting my words as judgment or telling others how they should be or think or live. I have always tried to use “I feel” and “I believe” statements and adhere to the idea that what is right FOR ME isn’t necessarily right for everyone. I have, however, been very vocal on other blogs when I see a lack of that same courtesy; when other bloggers have made statements that people who live or believe differently than they do are somehow wrong or immoral or bad. And because of that, I have lost followers and been made to feel unwelcome on other blogs.

I have also struggled to create content worthy of my readers, followers and fans. My day to day life has grown into a repetitive monotonous tale of hanging with friends and trivial meaningless drivel, with a variety of health issues and concerns mixed in here and there. Although it is my life and it keeps me entertained, engaged and happy, I can’t help believing it is just not the stuff others find joy in reading; and I’m certainly not pretty enough to keep you all entertained with pictures of a handsome face or great body. (Although we should all love ourselves as is, right everybody?) I don’t go on many adventures these days and those adventures I do go on, although they may perhaps be interesting to some, are probably not fit or appropriate to print here. Other bloggers’ lives are far more interesting in their professions, travels, involvement and activities than I ever have or could be. My one claim to fame is my Undie Monday segment, and even that seems to be waning in content and comment as bloggers lose interest or part ways with me.

This blog has been an amazing tool of growth for me and I have no regrets, overall, starting it and keeping it going for so long. It has helped me to come out in so many ways, to grow stronger and more honest as a person and to shed some light on some alternate ways of living that others may find shameful or wrong but I find freeing and healthy and wonderful.

But I am left wondering: why continue? What do I have left to say and/or what do I have left to offer anyone with my words? True, I have developed a circle of friends in blog land, but those that have grown to be more than “just readers,” I’ve connected with through e-mail, Facebook or in person, so I no longer feel those relationships are dependant on my blog to stay alive and thrive.

I really am struggling to find a purpose to blog anymore. A reason for plunking away, day in and day out, especially as I feel less able to share as openly and honestly as I have in the past. I have become aware of more and more cross-over between my blog life and my “real” life and have learned that that it IS possible to be TOO vulnerable, TOO honest and TOO open when people close to you are privy to your innermost thoughts and feelings; not to mention that there are those out there just looking for ways to hurt you and bring you down and I’m not sure I want to hand just anyone that kind of information or insight into my world and mind.

And, finally, to be brutally honest about something I have alluded to but not said bluntly to date for fear of repercussions, the recent loss of two very important friendships formed through blogging has also contributed to my hesitation to continue blogging, as they were staples in my blogging world and very special people to me and blogging and our friendship is so intertwined, that the loss of one has inevitably impacted and tainted the other.

I don’t know if there’s a place for me in the blogosphere anymore and, e
ven if there is, if I want to be here. A part of me can’t imagine leaving this behind, as being a blogger has become such a part of my identity and a vehicle for expression I get nowhere else, despite how meaningless and boring the content may seem to others. Another part of me can’t imagine continuing without a stronger purpose or reason and without all the connections and support I once had.

And so I remain conflicted.

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20 Responses to >Where do I go from here?

  1. Ultra Dave says:

    >Personally, I think you should continue in any way you want. People come and go in our lives. Things change. People change. Do what you feel like doing. It's your life, your blog.

  2. mikeyd54321 says:

    >Well most of what I had to say was alreday said but I did want to tell you I enjoy your blog and would miss it lots…especially undie Monday since that is how I found your blog (I know one of your undie Monday models :-). Like other have said you need to blog for yourself not because you feel obligated to blog. If you want to take some time off or just post once or twice a week for a while when you feel like you have something you want to express.Oh and don't worry about the haters they will always be there. I do undersatand about not wanting certian peopel to have that kind of access to your life though. Its a tough call but i hope you stay.

  3. Kyle says:

    >Sean whatever you do, do it for yourself and your happiness. Feed your heart and soul. Like so many, I love your posts and would miss you if you were gone. I'd miss having an ideological brother to lean against. Don't let the blog bring unhappiness or extra work into your life. Life is too short. Whatever you decide I'll be happy with, because you made the right decision for you. (Of course we live close enough to visit, so maybe I'm full of shit.)

  4. Bear Me Out says:

    >It's always risky, and our motives are never pure. I'd sure miss you. And I'm so glad your blog brought me to a new friendship and a big adventure.When I read this quote by Albert Camus, I think of you"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."The wonderful freedom you live has helped me. Maybe others. But I know it comes with cost.

  5. Thom says:

    >Just for the record, I'll miss your blog if you decide to stop blogging. Also just for the record, meeting and getting to know you is the best thing that happened to me as a result of blogging and reading blogs. 🙂

  6. >Sean – I often feel the same way and tell myself to blog what and when I feel it, not based on what others want or need. So if you need time away from blogging to see if you need it in your life, take it. But know you will be missed as I love the honesty of your posts and feel I have grown to know you through your blog.

  7. Dyl says:

    >As you know I've put mine to rest this week. I had a similar train of thought as yours and others have already given great advice and options about what you could or could not do with this.My own decision came from all the changes taking place and realising that the blog was no longer something I needed to do for me; and as others have said it should be something you do for yourself not for the audience (even if you like having one). It should certainly not be a chore or 'hard work'. My god, there's enough to do in life without giving yourself extra – unless you're getting something positive back from it.I ultimately decided my blog was not something I wanted to continue but there is perhaps space and reason for another, different blog at some point in the future. So if Idle Eyes no longer suits you that doesn't mean you'll have to leave the blogosphere forever.I agree the other avenues of communication are not at all the same and if at some point this is something you wish to revisit there is nothing stopping you from doing so; that's the great thing about the internet.I'm glad to have 'met' you and I would certainly be living in your pool if it weren't for the thousands of miles between us 🙂 Can you imagine going to the comic shop together and discussing the latest issue; slating Matt Fraction and regaling Gail Simone?That's not an option nor has it ever been; your blog has let myself (& others) have an insight into your life for which I am grateful.Based on my own recent experience I suspect you've really already made up your mind.I'd say I'd miss you but we have a good laugh on FB (I'm now remembering our recent noodle conversation) so missing you is the furthest thing from my mind.As long as you post your pull list and thoughts somewhere and discuss your pool parties it'll do for me. Maybe one day you guys can pop over here or vice versa. 'Til then I look forward to continue knowing you in whatever form.Be happy Sean. xx

  8. Ur-spo says:

    >Sean -My thoughts are near to Kelly's – Go back and substitute "Life" for the word "Blog".Everything about Life fits your marvelous thoughts and ambivalence. Life is a marvelous thing, evolving and changing and yes, hurting. We don't know where it is going; the original ideas seem lost in the shuffle. And perhaps that is best.So I hope you will continue to blog, as you, your blog and life are all aspects of the same marvelous tale, a work in progress.Or so I hope.

  9. Breenlantern says:

    >Cubby: Sorry, but your interpretation is absolutely not what I was saying and kind of makes me sound like petulant child, to be honest. If you "know me" at all from reading my posts, you will know how much the loss of friendships can and do impact me, especially ones that I thought were better and stronger than they turned out to be; and ones that also were heavily tied into my blog and blogging experience would clearly have an impact on my experience as a blogger. However, that is only part of the bigger issue: does blogging serve a purpose for me anymore and, if so, what? Because if I can't be 100% authentic on here (and for the reasons I mentioned, I'm not sure I can) then I really have to wonder why do it at all. BUT, I do appreciate your feedback.Victor: Despite how this may have come across, I wasn't pandering for compliments or responses telling me to stick around. None-the-less, I am very flattered and appreciative by yours (and everyone else's) feedback and it will definitely play a part in whether I continue to blog and, if so, how and what about.Anne Marie: You KNOW that was in direct reference to you! As I said, for all the negative this experience had brought into my life, there are also undeniable positives that I am grateful for (meeting you and others are those positives) and they DO outweigh the negatives, for sure.Kelly: I agree to a lot of what you're saying, but let's all be honest: if blogging was solely about keeping a record of our own personal thoughts and lives, we'd keep a private journal off line. All bloggers, to some degree or another, must have a desire to share their lives, thoughts and experiences with others and should expect or may even crave feedback…else why even give people access to our thoughts, let alone complete strangers? I think there is a certain type of emotional or psychological exhibitionism to blogging, regardless of our reasons for doing it.Vrong/Tai: Thanks, sweetie! Very flattered you think so.Walt: Agreed. But that is partially the dilemma. What am i getting out of this anymore?WCS: Stop being so que sera sera about everything or I'm gonna fly to France and beat your transplanted America now French ass, got it?Raybeard: You had me at "almighty hole" 😉

  10. Raybeard says:

    >Your well-articulated conflict is fully understood and it would be impertinent to intrude on it for my own selfish reasons. Suffice to say that I cannot improve on the above comments – and that if you (my first-ever blog pal) were to stop there would be one almighty hole in my life. While you are deciding what to do, know that there are LOADS of cuddlies (beary and otherwise) just longing to hug you. XXXXXX

  11. wcs says:

    >Whatever you decide will be right. For you. And if it's not, you can change your mind!See? That was easy. ;)But seriously… nah, I can't be serious.

  12. Walt says:

    >My two cents – Blog for yourself. Don't worry or think about what anyone thinks of what you write. If they want to read it, they'll read it. I do my blog 99% for me and for me only. If anyone wants to check in, cool, but I'm mostly just writing for my own sake.If you don't have anything on your mind or anything you want to write, don't. It's not a job. You don't get paid for it. Do it for your own satisfaction and let the world be damned.Okay, maybe that's my 3 cents, not 2.

  13. >Without your great entries, the blogosphere will be sad for sure.

  14. Kelly says:

    >blogging is like life (as you have pretty much laid out in your post)…in life you make friends, you piss them off and you loose them… in the blog world you make blog buddies, piss them off and you loose them… in real life some x-friends will trash you behind your back to others and on blogs they trash by signing in as anonymous… its part of day to day living… there days we dont feel like dealing with friends or blogs, but other days we cant live without them… dont make yourself blog everyday… blog when the urge hits… you see on my blog there are days i post several times, then there are weeks i may blog once… i dont depend on stat counts and comments anymore, as many of my blog followers aslo follow me on FB… for me blogging is a way to keep a scrapbook of my life. I take lots of pictures… i post them here (so when laptops crash and eat my files) so i can look back and see what has happened in life…and when i die, if i am famous, someone will have my login info and print and publish "rambling along in life and death with a stern point of view"… of course you will have to read it on the iPad…

  15. anne marie says:

    >"several of my most ardent readers are non-bloggers" – awwwwww, were you talking about little ole me?perhaps you can do what jim's stuff has done…don't post everyday, perhaps 2-3 days a week. my spouse posts 2 days a week at http://arteejee.blogspot.com.I personally would miss you if you quit writing altogether. your thoughts help me understand a way of life that I would not get to experience every day. and I DO loves me my undie monday hawt boyz!I betcha dr. spo and kelly and raybeard and thom and the princessa, etc. would also miss your wit and wisdom!and without your writing a blog, I never would have had the opportunity to know you exist, much less get a chance to meet you in person (be still my heart)!smooches! oh yeah, and fuck the haters!

  16. Victor says:

    >Although I haven't commented on your blog for a long time I have not deserted you. I still check you out every day.All of us lead repetitive lives and I have found, as no doubt most others do, that the longer you blog the more likely it is you go through periods wondering what you can blog about that your readers haven't already read multiple times before.I admire you greatly. Keep strong and true. You have very fine qualities.

  17. Cubby says:

    >I need you, Sean, and I need Idle Eyes. And I'm sure I'm not alone in that. How could you not know this?Idle Eyes is like an anchor store at a shopping mall. If the anchor store closes, all the other little stores are doomed. It will just be a matter of time.I look forward to reading your thoughts every day, sometimes several times a day. You'll always need an outlet like this. If you don't have Idle Eyes, then what will you do? Facebook? Twitter? You can't express serious, cogent thoughts on those fora. They are meant for quips and short anecdotes.It sounds to me like your logic is this: You don't want to continue blogging because you might form an important blogger friendship and that friendship may end badly someday and you'll be hurt, so it's better to just avoid forming blogger friendships in the first place. Is this right? You'd rather pick up your marbles and go home than risk losing one? That's so unlike you. Think of all the other great marbles out there you'd be missing out on.I hope you think on this for a long while before you decide to pull the plug. I stopped blogging involuntarily for 3 months and it about did me in. I know the same thing will happen to you.

  18. Breenlantern says:

    >Thank you both for your input. I absolutely value all of my readers and followers and, in fact, several of my most ardent readers are non-bloggers. It still amazes me that anyone would follow me, let alone care if I'm gone!

  19. raindog469 says:

    >It may seem like minutiae with the occasional tease to you, but I feel like I've gotten to know you a lot better over the last year through your blog. The move to Twitter and Facebook made by so many bloggers in the last few years has been a shame, I think, because you just can't express that much in a sentence or two. What I see in people's Twitter updates and Facebook statuses are titles to blog entries that never get written.When you do blog your frustrations about your interpersonal relationships, usually I don't have any idea who you're talking about, because yours is the only frequently updated blog I follow and the tangled social web locally is still kind of mysterious to me. But I can see how it makes you feel and that seems more important than the details of a disagreement or falling out.Of course, blogging was meant to be a two-way street, and I haven't updated my own blog in two years and counting, since I was blogging about a life I don't have anymore. So my appreciation might not do as much for you as if it were coming from a current fellow blogger, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.You pride yourself on posting every day, as health allows. It is something to be proud of; I burned out pretty fast when I tried to do that. But maybe just writing for yourself on your own schedule would be enough.If you do step back, I hope you'll do so with an eye toward blogging when and if you feel like it, and not swear it off altogether.

  20. Y | O | Y says:

    >As anyone who blogs knows, it's HARD WORK! Having just passed the 2,000 post mark myself recently, I pondered the same questions that you pose here.I decided to get back to blogging for me rather than what I think people want to read. Otherwise it becomes a job, and a crappy paying one (free) to boot! I had prided myself on never missing a day of posting. I let that go, too.The blog should serve you, not the other way around.I'm sorry that you've experienced attacks on here. I guess I've been lucky that way. The blogosphere is a odd duck and friendships formed here are unique. Take the good, leave the bad.For what it's worth, nothing you have said has been off-putting to me. In fact, when you lament about people being offended, I'm baffled. Perhaps because I've been around the block (w/ a shitload of therapy). As long as something doesn't impact me directly, I'm really "live and let live."I'm sure you still have plenty to say; it just may not be the same as when you started out.

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