I am a woman of very few talents, but I have always been good at getting along with other people. Not because I’m particularly charismatic–I’m not–but because I am good at figuring out what others want from me and then working hard to deliver just that. When your goal is to have other people like you, you learn rather quickly that conforming to their beliefs and expectations is important, even if that means hiding the parts of yourself that you know won’t meet with approval.
It took me a long time before I figured out that being my real, whole, self was so much more important than pleasing others. And it has taken me even longer to break the habit of caring so much about whether or not other people like me. Honestly, I’m in my late middle age and it’s still something I struggle with.
It still hurts when I meet someone new, and after a few minutes of polite conversation they excuse themselves and hurry away in search of someone more interesting to talk to. It still stings when I hear friends talking about a social gathering I didn’t know about because I wasn’t invited. And I still feel a bit ashamed, like a child who has been scolded, when I voice an opinion and someone tells me in no uncertain terms that I’m dead wrong.
The downside of social media and blogging is how it can feed into those insecurities, what with those little “like” buttons that let me know immediately how many people approve of a particular post. WordPress takes it a step further with its stats on how many views and visitors are generated each time I publish something. It’s easy to believe that the value of a post is determined solely by the number of likes and views.
Last week, I published a post that had 1,225 views, followed closely by a post that had exactly 102 views. I spent approximately the same amount of time and effort on each one, and felt that I had written both posts the best way I knew how. It’s tempting for me to study the more popular post to see what made so many people like it, and there was a time in my life when I believe I would have done just that. Thankfully, in many ways I’ve moved past that mindset and plan to move forward as I’ve always done, which is just writing about what interests me and working on each post until I’m satisfied with the result.
Blogging can be hard for someone who still struggles sometimes to find the courage to let her true voice be heard. I have to remind myself now and then that all I really have to offer in this blog is my own perspective and my own thoughts. Sometimes my words will strike a chord with lots of people and sometimes with just a few people, and it’s good either way. The important thing is that my words are an expression of my true self, rather than something I filtered heavily in order to attract the maximum amount of approval.
In many ways, my blog has helped me finally find my own voice. And if I am lucky enough that my words help someone else, that’s just icing on the cake.