My Blog Is an Introvert, Just Like Me
This is a long one, but I want you to read it, so grab a coffee (or wine, if it's after noon, and you are so inclined).
Image: randya38 via Flickr
In middle school, there was a girl named Phaedra. She had curly brown hair with giant bangs teased sky-high and shellacked with hairspray. Our generation of eighth graders singlehandedly put a dent in the ozone with all that Aqua Net; me included. Phaedra had thick, shiny braces on her teeth, brown hair, blue eyes, an outgoing personality -- and she was popular. Everybody liked her.
In high school, several queen bees ruled the roost. One of them was Lena. She was smart, pretty and sweet. She had an upperclassman boyfriend, one of the cutest boys in school; she had a big house. Everyone thought her dad was cute, and she even had a car. Everyone liked her too. People just flocked to her and wanted to be her friend.
I was never that popular kid. I was always on the fringe. I wouldn't exactly say I was a nerd -- OK, I definitely was a nerd up until 10th grade, but somewhere around that time things started to improve for me. I was already in varsity gymnastics, but I made the cheerleading team. I joined student government. I ditched glasses for contacts and started to get a handle on what to do with my hair. By my senior year, I could call a lot of those "cool" kids my friends -- including Lena -- and I even made prom court. To this day, I still can't believe that happened. I didn't have that outgoing personality that draws people in. I was quiet. I wasn't the star anything. I wasn't loud enough, confident enough, smart enough, different enough or pretty enough. I didn't have the right clothes. People didn't flock to me the way they did to them. I mingled with them. But I couldn't BE them.
I've been blogging for about four years now. At first, I was totally oblivious to the whole blogging industry that was exploding around me. I started seeing bloggers post about comparing themselves to others, feeling inadequate, and reading a post and wishing they could have written it. I was like, what are they talking about? Then I came out from whatever rock I was hiding under and realized that there were some really popular blogs out there gaining thousands of followers and that blogging was moving in a new direction.
Somewhere along the way, I started having some of those feelings myself. It was a feeling that I couldn't quite put my finger on. And then it dawned on me that some of those old feelings of wanting to be accepted and liked that I had in high school had resurfaced but substitute high school for the blogging world. And it was kind of weird to realize this, because as an adult I thought I had put those emotions behind me. I work full time; I pay bills. I have a greater awareness of the world. I have a full, happy life with fulfilling relationships. I have a mortgage and a husband. Why am I concerned about being popular and liked? With coming up with a really witty status update that will stand out? Ain't nobody got time for that.
The blog world is full of popular kids, cliques, and social hierarchy. And it can feel very competitive. I'm not saying any of it is bad, or good, or even intentional -- but it's there. I think it's just the nature of the beast. Here's the thing: I've never been, and will probably never be, that cool kid. I didn't win prom queen my senior year in high school, and I'm certainly not winning any popularity contests in the blog world today. Popularity was important to me as an insecure teenager, but it's not what I'm after now as a slightly less insecure adult blogger.
I ran for class secretary my freshman year of high school. It was a really bold move for someone like me. I was terrified of the whole process, and I still can't figure out what possessed me to do it. And I failed miserably. Not only because I was an unpopular nerd, but because I was too afraid to "put myself out there." I didn't want to put up too many signs. I didn't want to hand out candy with a vote for me tag on it. I didn't want to ask people to vote for me. I was running for a class office, but it was almost like I didn't want anyone to know that I was. The more people that knew I was running, the more would know when I failed. Plus, I couldn't actually let them know how bad I really wanted it, because that would make defeat even more embarrassing.