When I started this blog it was with the noblest of intentions. And then I got greedy. Here, let me explain:
I was taking a graduate course and one of the assignments was for us to push our boundaries of our own creativity. We could explore something creatively that we had never done before or we could re-discover something creative that we used to do and hadn’t attempted for a while. We also had to keep a journal about the creative process behind our passion project. I decided on writing as my creative project (with a focus on poetry) for my passion project and decided to try and take my writing semi-public. The way I decided to do this was through a blog, which would also cover the journal requirement. This was a safe outlet for me–I wouldn’t tell anyone the name of my blog (I caved and told a few friends and my mom) and if someone discovered my writing that would be a bonus. But that would not be the reason for my writing.
And then came the followers and the likers. Slowly but surely each time I posted an entry, one or two people ‘liked’ it and I usually got confirmation that another person was now following my blog. And it wasn’t the friends whom I’d told about my blog. It was strangers from across the globe who liked my work. I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars, “You like me! You really like me!” However, with the new followers came a price. And what followed next was a huge roller coaster of self-esteem issues.
You see, I’ve never been comfortable having someone tell me that my writing or my work is good. I always find some excuse to diminish my accomplishments. When I won the Gold Medal for having the highest marks in the Faculty of Education, I told people it was because Education was an easy degree. So I started to think that perhaps there was some ulterior motive behind my followers’ and my likers’ actions. I would check out other blogs that had ‘liked’ my work–some were really good, some not quite as good–and what surprised me is that some of them had hundreds of followers. So I started to wonder, how did they get so many followers? And even though, I had talked myself out of the idea of needing followers, part of me wanted more. It was an interesting conundrum–I wanted to be validated by these strangers and yet I felt their admiration wasn’t genuine. Was I writing for myself or others? And if I was writing for other people, how could I get more people to read my blog?
For more on Sally Field and her misquoted Oscar speech, check out: