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.