Recently I spoke a bit on twitter about how I was going to stop blogging because I didn’t think having a blog added value to my life, and how the pressure of having to think of something to write was making me anxious.
Then I re-read my old blog. I read the story of my life from the summer of 2010 until almost the present day. I found myself feeling so grateful that I had written it, it reminded me of things that I otherwise would not have remembered. It sheds a life on the person I was throughout my early twenties, and demonstrated why I write.
I was surprised to discover that my first ever blog was about things that I had recently made: a list with some photos. The story I had been telling myself was that I discovered my creativity in 2013 when I crocheted my way out of post-break up misery. In fact I was rediscovering myself after an unsuitable relationship made me forget what I thought and liked. We often believe that to be happy, we need to become a different person. But I think that true contentment comes from stripping back all the shoulds, coulds and other people’s expectations to find exactly who we really are: who we always have been. I am a maker. I make things.
My second every blog post was about feeling guilty about buying new shoes. This used to be a big neurosis of mine. I gave it power over me: “I am a shopoholic”. Repeating this myth made it come true. In the summer of 2010 I was trying to reinvent myself with clothes whilst realising that I couldn’t.
In a post titled “Is Shopping Really Empowering?” I explained that “You have been duped by advertising, because clothes aren’t a lifestyle, whatever Topshop might have you believe. Your personality is not created by what you wear, but what you do. And you will never really discover who you are through following the adverts promising a new lifestyle with a new dress.” Looking back I can see how much of a pep talk this was to myself.
2010 was a confusing time: I had left university, returned from six months in India with a new perspective on the world, just ended my first serious relationship, and started my first 9 to 5 office job. I used my blog to explore ideas around consumerism and identity as I was coming to grips with them myself.
I stopped writing so much when I started living more. I moved out of my parents house, I established my own life for myself. I entered that previously mentioned unsuitable relationship and we embarked on many adventures (driving from Durban to Cape Town, and then from Pretoria through Mozambique). This left me reeling, and I took a few months of writing and thinking to reflect on what I had learnt and who I was at the end of it. Answer: the same person I have always been.
Reading back it strikes me that I primarily use blogging to explore ideas about the world and my place in it. When I was considering the value of my blog I was approaching it in completely the wrong way for me. I don’t use blogging to build a brand, meet like minded people or update friends and family. I use social media for these things, but blogging is much more about personal introspection.
I write to make sense of ideas, of changes and of my life. Blogging is a journey, and it doesn’t matter to me if I stick to a schedule or if anybody reads it.
It’s particularly telling that I can’t think how to categorise this post. I write for well being: typing and organising my thoughts on to a page isn’t just therapeutic, it’s essential for my mental health. Writing is a creative habit that feeds my imagination and makes me want to write more and more. It is empowering: a do it yourself way of telling your story before somebody else tells it for you. And, of course, writing is self-expression.
I’ve been in a creative slump these past few weeks and I thought stopping blogging would help me. But I actually I’ve missed having this outlet for my thoughts. What I didn’t miss were the schedules and the pressure. So I’m going to drop those. But I’m not going to stop writing. I can’t ever stop writing.