Reflection.

Reader Question: How do I navigate writing about my personal life without it affecting my personal life?

ME

A reader recently wrote to me asking how I’ve managed to write about deeply personal things without the result affecting my personal life. It was funny to me because I so rarely think about the potential for that. Although with certain pieces, especially those involving romantic relationships, the sense of risk can occasionally arise.

That said, I almost always go forth and post whatever I’ve written. So, how do I navigate my-life-meets-my-blog? Well, I think it’s a combination of things, which I will expound on here for whatever it’s worth…

  1. When I began, I was much more nervous about each new post. It was my first real entry into sharing my own sentences with an audience larger than a handful of family and close friends—frankly, it was my first time sharing writing with some of those guys, too. My nerves were partially related to the writing style itself (i.e. What if they think it sucks?), but I also felt vulnerable in fully opening up about my anorexia, etc., especially to people who didn’t have a clue I had gone through it. However, like I told this reader, I think I’ve always been a pretty honest and upfront person—which can be a blessing and a curse, but with my blog at least, I’ve found it to be a total blessing. I think that already-ingrained personality trait allowed me to bite the bullet and go for it, even though there’s definitely something scarier about seeing your secrets and more-hidden feelings in print, compared to just letting them fall out into a conversationand thus thin air.
  2. I had also reached a point where it felt almost necessary to open up. I wasn’t happy and felt like I had all of this stuff building up that I wanted to vocalize to an audience greater than the voices in my head, so I think the need outweighed the fear. That, and I had been yearning to generally figure things out (about myself, life, culture, etc.) and when you have an audience you’re more likely to continue doing so, I think.
  3. My family is very open and always has been. For example, I can talk comfortably about things like sex with my mother, my father, and my stepmother, even if they sometimes joke that it’s disturbing. This not only instilled in me a sense of ease with being boldly honest, but also made my immediate family a non-consideration when starting the blog. I wasn’t really revealing anything they didn’t already know, and even if I have a little bit since then, the revelations have been more beneficial to our relationships than detrimental.
  4. I always think about the people involved in each post—whether it’s a friend, a lover, or someone who has hurt me. My goal is never to upset anyone or tear anyone down—including people who have done those very things to me. I make a point not to name people who may be embarrassed and to be fairly vague with any descriptive details about them. I also don’t include references to them at all unless I think it’s absolutely necessary for fleshing out my point. Ultimately, I’m writing for myself and to help or interest other people—not to make anyone feel shitty, including people who I find to be, well, pretty shitty. My experience in reading other blogs, too, has been that extreme negativity (especially when only directed towards others) is super tedious and doesn’t make for much popularity. So for that kind of stuff I would say, save it for yourself or therapy and you’re golden.
  5. I gave up on the appeal of being some cliché, uber-mysterious lady for men to fawn over. A guy who I was pretty interested in for a time once joked that he easily knew everything about me, because “it’s all on my blog,” and my knee-jerk reaction was total annoyance paired with frustration (read: “Fuck, my blog has ruined my dating life!”) The reality is, though, that there’s a truckload of stuff that I never write about and probably never will. I also simply enjoy revealing the stuff that I do, it’s therapeutic and creates a more interesting dialogue, I think, than simply sugar coating my life 24/7, so I wouldn’t want to give it up. Lastly, do I want a man in my life that loves me for some alluring façade or for who I really am and what’s really going on in my life, flaws and all? All together now: the latter. So I’ve simply made peace with the fact that some guys will get it, and some guys won’t—and those that don’t just aren’t for me.
  6. As I hinted at above, revealing what I have on this site has been INCREDIBLY rewarding—which wasn’t even a consideration when I began. It was much more of a selfish mission at first than perhaps it’s become, in that I was really just trying to unload. I think that was actually great because it made my voice authentic—I wasn’t trying to make anybody else feel anything. I still don’t attempt that, but I am definitely more aware of the fact that certain topics, like eating disorders, can be really moving for other people. But they’re moving because they’re really honest, because I’m willing to be like “Hey, I’m not totally recovered even if it would be nice for you all to think that!” or just “Wow, I am really fucking lonely right now.” I don’t pretend to be perfect and I think that’s simply something I’ve found to be crucial in my favorite blogs. Aspirational blogs can be nice, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather commiserate a little with people and realize that I’m not alone. I guess whenever I really hesitate to post something (probably only once or twice, TBH) I keep that in mind. Not everyone’s going to like you or get you, that’s just life, and the benefits for me personally in doing this have far outweighed any drawbacks.

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