Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Slap in the Face (Behind My Back)

This is part two of an essay I wrote last month about why I blog. Part two deals with what I blog. Like part one, this was written when I had only one blog. I hope it isn’t too confusing that I’m posting on this blog, while usually referring to another one.

I never intended for my blog to become what it has: a bunch of newsy postings on what my family has been up to. Sure, I wanted to do a LITTLE of that, but one of the most exciting reasons to blog (for me) was the chance to EXPRESS my deepest thoughts, strongest opinions and heart-felt difficulties and struggles. Things that often don’t get expressed. The problem: how to do that with an audience THAT KNOWS WHO I AM. I am disappointed that in all my posting, there is little that resembles a thought-provoking essay on a pertinent issue or a true expression of what’s going on in my mind, let alone HOW everything is going for me and my family. I wonder: if a stranger were to read my blog, would they get a true picture of me and my life? Or would they just see a bunch of “aren’t we happy?” posts and pictures?

I so often have ideas on things to blog about or thoughts I’d like to put down and really hash out, but it seems that all I end up actually doing is the occasional “this-is-what-we’re-up-to” post, something perhaps only my mother-in-law would enjoy seeing (and I only sent her a link to the blog a few weeks ago, after recognizing that was all my blog had become).

In some ways, I am disillusioned with blogging. I have read many-a-stranger’s musings and frustrations with appreciation; relating at least somewhat to what she is going through. But when it comes down to posting my own strong opinions or impressions or difficulties, I am guarded. (Perhaps I need to start an anonymous blog!)

A friend of mine once expressed an interest in blogging, but what made her not as eager to do it was the fact that when you blog, your life is out there for anyone to see. My timidity is not so much toward the generic “anyone” stranger as much as it is the “someone” that I know. So much of what I find helpful on other sites is an expression of struggle and real life difficulty that I can relate to. I just don’t know how to have a blog like that that both reflects my real life and is still sensitive to any readers I actually know personally. The only area that I feel pretty safe being totally “real” in is that of my day-to-day struggle with my children. Fast forward a decade or so, when my kids are older, and I don’t think I’d even feel comfortable expressing much of that.

And I don’t want to be the Pollyanna blogger who has a perfect life and glosses over failings and struggles, painting a picture of themselves that is (surely) far from accurate (I love to hate these blogs. I don’t have a beef with optimism; I just don’t see that it serves much of a purpose to “be” a person who doesn’t have problems. What about the rest of us? Do you have any suggestions for how we underlings can go about our lives?) The truth is that you can pretty much be anyone in blogdom: even someone that doesn’t remotely resemble the real you. I want my blog to be a true expression of me, not something that only highlights the fun or good times, or my rosiest view on something. I don’t want to share a measly, “hardly-worth-mentioning-it’s -so-small” struggle here and there only after I’m over it, either. Nor do I want to tread so lightly in an attempt to not offend that my blog loses any semblance of personality (as seems to be tempting for well-read bloggers—one of the things that makes me hope my blog remains tiny and insignificant). These are all things I don’t appreciate in other blogs, and I don’t want to do in mine.

Lest anyone (who has a blog that I read and knows me) misunderstand: I am not talking about you. I speak more generally of blogs I’ve read where (not knowing the woman personally) I get the impression that she’s hiding something amidst all the fabulous goings-on. Perhaps we all know someone like this. It is precisely what causes me to keep my distance from a person in real life. That sense I have of not being “safe” with someone, because they don’t struggle like I do. Who needs a friend like that?

In typing this, I am impressed with the realization of how much more gracious others have been. I was once very much that person who only let a small part of herself show. It is really shocking to me to think of how many people were my friend years ago when I was so incredibly guarded in many ways. I hope, but do not know, that I was just guarded: not that I put on an air of having it together. But maybe that’s what being guarded looks like either way: snobbish.

Okay, now to get on with my ungraciousness: I have been there, done that. Having been on both sides, I can say it really does nothing but make others feel like bumbling idiots if they don’t know better, and those who do just wonder, “You really think I believe that load of baloney?” I have no desire to be that super-spiritual person whose admission of weakness is just another way of showing how wonderful she is: “Well, my biggest struggle right now is that I’m not reading my Bible nearly enough. I am really tempted to stop after an hour; I’ve been on my knees about it since Thursday.” After a few decades on this earth, I have finally wised up and steer clear of these people in real life, and in no way do I want to be one of them in blogdom.

I’m sorry if I’m way out of line here, but I can’t help but wonder if homeschooling has (or at least had) this air about it in general, because now that I think of it, I don’t run into this much now that I’m so far removed from that culture. Perhaps I will begin to see it again if we decide to homeschool very long. (“You let your girls wear sequins? My lands!”) Or maybe it has to do with a public eye being trained on you. I imagine it’s fairly similar for a P.K. (No, not a promise keeper. A preacher’s kid.)

HOOO-EE! I think that’s about enough of that. What was lurking in there, anyway? I think I just crossed the line from newsy blogs to seriously opinionated and potentially offensive. A little help here?


Rachel said...

I hear ya, loud and clear, totally agree. As a pure MESS myself apart from Jesus Christ, I long for encouragement in daily life from people who feel they are also messes. I mean, aren't our trials meant at least in part, to give us comfort by which we can comfort/counsel others with the same we have received? I think any sort of idealistic thinking can only hurt others, because even the BEST, and MOST "together" mother is either, a. that way after years of struggle and learning what works best for her role, b. (and I definitely don't discount this does happen sometimes) given extraordinary grace from God to be the way she is without much effort - and isn't that true in either scenario that it's grace??? Thank God when we have it all together (sometimes) and when we are falling apart, we are His and saved by grace! Happy REAL Blogging!! Hehe, ~Rach

ann said...

Hey Sarah! I, personally, am not offended in the least. I couldn't agree with you more about being transparent and not feeling "safe" with those who come across as having it all together. I like hearing about your little "everyday" things and your deep thoughts. Isn't a blog your blog? My sister and I have had this discussion quite a bit. We don't want to offend, but if you feel strongly about something, isn't your blog an outlet for that? I love to read what you write, because it's honest and real. Hope this helps:)