Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not Going Back

Posted by Lara at 5:38 PM
I can remember a time, not too long ago, in the midst of my depression, when all I could think about was "getting back to normal." I talked often about wishing I could "go back to the way things were," or "be myself again." I was thinking of myself as a completed picture - a set object, already ordered and organized and fully designed and produced. Packaged neatly in a pristine box, I sat for years on a pretty shelf. Depression, it seemed at the time, had yanked me violently from the box, pulled me apart, and left me broken in pieces. Somehow, I had to get back into my box.

But ten months later, I find myself now seeing things different. I see me now in motion, constantly growing and changing. I'm not sitting stagnant in a box - I'm moving forward on the timeline of my life. Going "back" to anything from before the depression would be just that: a step in the wrong direction. I can't go back to the way things were, and I shouldn't want to.

That doesn't mean nothing is the same or similar to the way it was before. There are pieces of this newer me that look unchanged - I still love to dance, I still love little kids, I still love my amazing friends. My family is still by my side, as they always have been. I haven't moved to a new country, though I did move to a new apartment. Many things are the same for me.

But all that means is that I'm still me. It means I'm growing and changing, not disappearing entirely. I'm different, but not gone.

I was talking to my mom last night about some of the ways in which I've grown the most over the last year or so. Some of these changes can actually be seen in how I think about blogging - in general, in others' blogs, and in my own. For example, most of you know I keep stats on my posts, and one of the stats I record is the number of comments I receive on each post. These numbers used to cause me no end of stress and obsession. I used to hover by my mail, just waiting for comments, and often I would skim the comment itself only to get to my file and add one to the number of comments and see where that put my average. It was kind of disgusting, frankly.

These days, I appreciate the comments, not the numbers. I watch the numbers because they're interesting to me - sometimes I notice trends about which kinds of posts are most interesting or thought-provoking, or which days of the week tend to get the most comments, etc. But I do that because I find it interesting, not because I need to have the numbers. And when I read your comments now, I read them to see what you have to say, what you want to contribute to the conversation. Some of you may have noticed that I've taken to responding whenever and wherever I feel like it too, instead of routinely responding to everything at a pre-appointed time. It suddenly feels like what it should have been all along: a conversation. I don't need a number on an Excel spreadsheet to determine my worth as a blogger - I can do that all on my own.

Similarly, I don't need to be loved by the blogging celebrities anymore. For one thing, I realized that we really are all just people. The women at the top of the blogging game, they're just doing what they love, same as I am. Back in the beginning of my career as a blogger, I would hope desperately for a visit from Mom101 or Her Bad Mother or Mocha Momma, and on the rare occasion that they would leave a comment, I suddenly felt worthy. No offense to any of those ladies, but I now know that that's complete bullshit. Who are they to determine my worth? They'd be the first to answer, "Nobody." I value their opinions as writers and thinkers, definitely - I'm not trying to say they have nothing important to contribute. But I've come to better understand that when they don't comment, it doesn't mean they don't think I'm a good blogger. It means they're busy, and they don't read me every day, and that's not a poor reflection of me. Hell, I've had the chance to spend a number of hours now with Mocha (and sea monkeys, as can be clearly seen in the picture above), and I did not come away from our time together feeling like she thought I was a lame, worthless, wannabe "cool" blogger or anything like that.

My blog is going to be reviewed Monday by Diva Dee of Review My Blog. Honestly, this post isn't for her. If it were, what kind of growth would that be? No, I'm interested in her opinion too - if not, I wouldn't have submitted my blog for review. I'm curious what an objective observer, especially one familiar with many different kinds of blogs (from doing so many reviews), would have to say about my site. But I already know that her review won't make or break my blog. I seriously doubt any of you reading out there have been reading on condition of "No bad reviews!" If one bad review scares you off, then frankly, I'm not sure you were ever all that interested in my writing. Her review won't make me a good or bad writer - it'll just be one person's opinion about whether this blog is interesting to her or not, in writing as well as design, content, etc. I'll listen to what she has to say, and if she has suggestions for improvement, I'll consider them, just as I would from anyone. But I won't do them automatically just for approval - the only one whose approval I really need is my own.

So if I've grown this much just in how I think about my blogging, can you imagine the leaps and bounds I've made in my personal life too? Quality over quantity, understanding other people better, and seeking my own approval first and foremost: It's a big step forward.

There's no going back from here.

29 comments:

Smart Mom Type Chick! on 6:00 PM said...

Because my attention span is so short I have to read this post in sections! But anyway, I love your blog and I have been secretly stalking you for awhile. I spent my entire life worrying about what people will think if me once they find out that I was a mother at 17 and a high school dropout. I don't think about those things anymore. My real friends love me for me and accept me as I am. Even if they didn't I would still be me. Don't know if that relates to your post, but I thought I would share that!

tpiglette on 6:24 PM said...

Hearing this makes me smile inside. :) You are fearfully and wonderfully made, dear friend.

Major Bedhead on 6:32 PM said...

Good grief, Lara, you have more composure and maturity at the ripe old age of what? 23? than I do at the very old age of rhymes-with-shorty.

I have pretty much accepted that I blog for me, not for hits or subscribers or comments (although those are great), but it took me a while to get there.

Lara on 6:36 PM said...

major bedhead - close: 25. :)

tali said...

Yay! This is a fantastic post, and I like how it goes with your picture of the day on the other blog ... nice contrast =). It's so great to read and see the wonderful ever-changing Lara =)

BetteJo on 7:14 PM said...

Sigh-h-h. Good mental health at such a young age. I'm going to have to go back and read your depression posts. I have some of those too - not my best memories but important to talk about.

I blog because I enjoy it, and I don't really know who the stars are so I hope I don't develop the need to care!

Lisa on 7:18 PM said...

I can totally relate to portions of this post. I get seriously depressed about my blog sometimes, it's not what I wanted it to be (writing a post about that right now) and I often don't get many comments so I'm left wondering "what's the point?" But, then I remind myself that I do enjoy it and that there are others that do also. Maybe not a lot of others, but still, a few... isn't it funny how even in adulthood we still want to be the ones that sit at the "cool" table?!?

Seth on 8:02 PM said...

I blog because I enjoy writing, and blogging allows me to sit down and reflect on how the day / week / month went. Lara, it's been a joy to "travel" with you through the past several months through your writing. ... and in my humble opinion, YOU are one of the stars. Look at all of these comments!

Angela on 8:37 PM said...

I can relate to your post in some ways. And I'm glad that you recognize that blogging should really be about learning about yourself and about maintaining relationships with other people. It makes it so much more fun and worthwhile. Keep those posts coming!

Caffeinated Librarian on 8:39 PM said...

Amen, sister. I could give you a big old hug for this one right now.

yh on 8:56 PM said...

I love reading blogs. It gives me a good idea of who the person is and what they're like. And I think your blog is great! I'm glad I found it!

jittacatgirl on 10:29 PM said...

growing is good. i'm growing too. we're growing together. (not horizontally, either.)

Tense Teacher on 2:59 AM said...

I can completely relate to this post, and I think the situation you talk about -- trying to be popular -- happens to all bloggers pretty soon after we begin. You get a certain rush after that first comment, and you can't wait for more. Then you learn of all the different ways you can become one of the popular bloggers, and you seek them out. But here's the irony - the real popularity comes once you get past that; you discover that there have been some really cool people reading you all along, and hopefully they pass on the word about how they like your blog, and it just grows and grows. Now that I've stopped caring about the numbers and have started writing what makes me happy, my readership has grown.

Isn't that the way life always works, anyhow... just the opposite of the way you think it should?

Anonymous said...

Yay! Hurray! what an uplifting post.

CC

nutmeg on 6:17 PM said...

You

nutmeg on 6:17 PM said...

are

nutmeg on 6:18 PM said...

so

nutmeg on 6:18 PM said...

damn

nutmeg on 6:19 PM said...

cool!

(My Review!)

R U Serious?? on 9:24 PM said...

GREAT post Lara!! I have always loved you blog and the posts that you write day after day!! And I understand the 'comment' thing too. We all love receiving comments. On the surface, comments appear to validate our blogs and the work we put into them but like you, I post for ME!! My outlet for things going on in my life, my thoughts and of course a great forum for my rants!

So just keep blogging and growing!! We love you!!

PS: Again, I apologize for not posting here lately! Seems I've been stuck in Spaces! But I will soon!!!

Justin on 2:34 AM said...

Bravo. Proud of you :)

Theo on 2:16 PM said...

thanks for sharing this.

i can't tell you how much it means to me at this moment in my living...

Namaste'

Mrs. Chicky on 7:49 PM said...

That's right, sisah. You own your bad blog self.

Sandra on 5:43 AM said...

I have loved watching the evolution on your blog. Growth is good. And you are a strong, articulate, sensitive, kind, talented woman ... gawd can you imagine you in 10 years if you keep up the growth at this rate?!?!

flutter on 3:06 PM said...

Thank you so much for coming by my house today. I am so impressed with how thoughtful, articulate and graceful you are.

I think I am going to like it here.

mayberry on 8:03 PM said...

ITA with Major Bedhead! I'll keep reading, no matter what any reviewer might say.

Trina on 6:43 AM said...

And now we suddenly realize that all the women who said their twenties were a crazy time of self discovery were exactly right. Here's to another 70 or so years of it. Beautiful post Lara :)

fourthbreakfast on 1:55 PM said...

I love your "going out" hair! Sooo cute.

Did you take the photos of the goldfish in your banner? I'm very impressed.

Lara on 2:02 PM said...

fourth breakfast - thanks! i liked it too. :) and no, the template, including goldfish images, comes from finalsense.com. but i think it's cool anyway. :-P

 

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