On anonymity and vulnerability

I have waking-nightmares about being seen naked and about being surveilled.

***

When I started keeping a digital diary in the late nineties, I wrote openly, and I didn’t for a second stop to worry about a teacher or parent finding my journal. Not that I would have really minded so much if they did. I was young and comfortably wrapped in my imperfection.

Blogging and the loss of anonymity

It’s a cliché, these days, to say that nothing shared online is private. Back then, the space was an ocean, and my urge to put feelings-on-screen just as deep.

As much as I’ve always liked the smell of fresh pages in a paper journal, and loved the idea of writing a diary that was completely private, it was never more than just that—an idea. What I really craved was the audience, even when the audience was silent.

It was like the writing didn’t matter if no one was reading, and I’m clear on what that probably says about my ego.

As the years passed and the online space grew (and closed-in on me), I started sharing less and less and then almost nothing. The posts were still published, the pixels still glittered, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I’m older now, and tied to hundreds of photos, a name, a place, a career and my family. These are all good and beautiful parts of my life, but I’m not sure at what point I got it in my head that I had to give up the writing and the wanting.

I am a constructed by blocks of life that comprise an average woman living an average life making grilled-cheese sandwiches and watching prime-time television.

At some point I became afraid to write. I became afraid to be exposed and I think I even became afraid of facing myself.

  • Brian Gardner

    Crissy, you are not the only one. Trust me. I go through this kind of conversation in my head practically every day of my life.

    There’s an ebb and flow of my emotions that I try to capture — what is appropriate, and what isn’t. What might make people think less of me, and what won’t.

    When I decided to finally take a stab at being completely honest and transparent, I had to do so by ghostwriting a guest post on my own blog which was a way I tried breaking the ice.

    Heck, I wanted to test the waters so badly I even admitted that I peed sitting down. Just to see if I would be judged or not.

    The irony is that I had more people admitting they did the same thing, than those who laughed at me.

    The lesson I learned is that more folks relate to you (us) than you think. More people want to have the courage to be bold in their failures and non-successes in life.

    You and I have been extremely blessed with an audience that looks up to us. That’s an opportunity for us both to make the world a better place by encouraging others to do the same and be true to themselves.

    Keep writing, people are reading.

  • http://7onashoestring.com Staci Salazar

    Yes! This! I began blogging looking for a place to simply share my thoughts. What was going around and around in my head. I felt safe online as I began to write. As the readers came, I felt transformed into what they needed me to be. Now, I long for the writings of the past. I want to get back to me. Back to the essence of why I began.

    Thank you for being vulnerable. For being honest. I love reading your thoughts. Looking forward to more.

  • Kristen @ My 3 Little Kittens

    I completely understand what you are saying. I started my blog after my dad passed away. I needed an outlet to just write. I had so much to say, so many moments to share. However, I quickly found the need for an actual audience and my insightful posts weren’t doing it. A lot of my great writing is from my early days and I need to bring new life to those posts for sure.

  • Stacie

    I understand how you feel because I feel it too. I’m always cautious of my words online. I used to write in a journal when I was a teen and young adult. I wrote without a care of how it would make me look or whether it would offend someone. I just wrote and it felt good. The online space is very critical. It’s hard for people who are sensitive putting themselves out there. I learned there’s a hater in every crowd and to not let those people get you down. I think your an inspiration to many people, me included.

  • Tiffany C.

    I have a hard time being totally honest about myself, always afraid of wing judged, but I also think there are a lot of people out there that could relate to me. Your writing is great and it’s nice to visit a space where i know you’re 100% honest, and not afraid to admit your faults. None of us are perfect.

    I started another blog over a year ago so I could share my thoughts and get back to why I started blogging in the first place.

  • http://MyBabyBirds.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    I struggle with this – needing an audience and being afraid of the infamy. I’ve talked openly about infidelity in my marriage on my blog, and while it’s therapeutic, it’s scary. We’re all human though. We’re all weak and flawed.

  • Danielle S.

    All throughout high school and college I wrote. But not online. I was always scared into thinking that I couldn’t have that vulnerable piece of out there in the open. Now I wish I had started blogging sooner!