Last night, I saw a whole bunch of posts from my fellow bloggers highlighting the best, most-read, and most-commented-on posts of 2013. Instead of feeling inspired, I felt defeated. That’s not typical for me. I’m one of those people who feels other people’s emotions strongly, so I rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I also often dismiss my own feelings as being selfish or wrong in some other way. Yesterday, though, I couldn’t feel anything except discouraged.
Morning brought a bit of perspective. Part of the problem yesterday was lack of sleep and overdoing it physically when I took my daughter out yesterday. A bigger revelation was that 2013 was not a stellar year for me. I don’t really want to relive it, even through my blog.
Instead of combing through my stats to find my best/worst posts or most frequent referrers or hottest topics, here is what I learned this year (and hope to carry into 2014):
1. Sometimes there really is something wrong.
I told myself repeatedly that I was fine, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I’m happy to be in a better place now that I have a diagnosis. Following my rheumatologist’s very sound advice, I’m now having more good days than bad. There’s always a low-level set of symptoms, of course, but I’m actually managing them rather than fighting them. It’s good, but chronic illness still sucks.
2. Internet drama isn’t healthy for me.
My biggest physical crash came right after a huge blow-up among some of my fellow bloggers. I had to block several people–not out of spite but because I simply could not have their tweets showing up in my feed at all, even as retweets or because others had replied to them. I’m not sorry; they weren’t people who were healthy for me.
3. People take things personally even when it’s not intended.
That means I need to be more careful with my words. I need to be clear when I’m not aiming a comment at a specific person. I made the mistake of critiquing one blogger and ended up with someone else angry with me because she assumed I meant her (she’d said a similar thing). I thought I’d mentioned the person I was actually referencing, but I hadn’t. I had a similar experience in a non-blogging context. It’s hard to tell when it’s my problem (I wasn’t clear, I was too harsh) and when it’s the other person reading into it something that doesn’t exist.
3. On the other hand, some people really enjoy drama.
And they need to be avoided at all costs.
4. Not everything needs to be blog fodder.
I can think of a whole bunch of things that I probably just shouldn’t have said. That’s okay; I can work on that. I just wish other people would do the same. I refuse to apologize for thinking that in some of the Internet ugliness there is not one person at fault but many, and even people who have been hurt by others can be abusive themselves. Some things that I found particularly disturbing:
- Hashing out problems on the Internet instead of with a competent therapist, including policing what everyone else’s healing ought to look like. Also: Meanness but claiming that it’s part of your healing to be an ass to other people because they remind you of someone else. People shouldn’t have to put warning labels on their personalities; we should be mature enough to just not engage with people we don’t like. Similarly, we should be mature enough to accept it if someone says, “I don’t really like you or want to interact with you. Please stop contacting me.”
- Outing your kid on social media. I’m all for being more inclusive, loving/accepting our kids as they are, and making it safe for them. But telling their stories–without their permission–before they’re even old enough to decide who they tell for themselves? Horrible. Do parents even get what kinds of problems they could be causing with that? No; just no. That needs to go away immediately. It’s entirely possible to talk about how we might respond if/when the time comes without telling the universe our kids have an Identity and what it is.
- Abusive behavior under the guise of “calling out” (no, I’m not talking about anything in the last month, so stop assuming it’s you). This is a Very Serious Problem among cis-het white people interacting with each other and presuming to speak for those who are not cis, het, and/or white but failing to include all voices or just friggn’ stepping aside and letting them talk about the issues.
- Twitter “parody” accounts that bully, harass, and mock people (rather than concepts). Yes, maybe even hateful public figures. Parody accounts are largely not funny, and too many people stand to be hurt. Not only that, they are often poorly written and don’t convey the sense of irony they think they do, even when those who run them are otherwise witty people. In my opinion, even the ones for public figures are unnecessary–ass-hats are entertaining enough without parodying them, and sometimes we need to see their real words in order to understand how they are doing harm. You want humor, even of the snarky kind? There are plenty of those sites and Twitter accounts out there. Go read those.
5. Having people unfriend you because of your religious beliefs really, really hurts.
I lost at least 10 friends in the last year because they couldn’t deal with the fact that I’m no longer a conservative evangelical. That includes a couple of people I’ve known for over twenty years. At the same time, though, my friendship with at least 3 people has deepened due to my openness about my changing perspective. I won’t name her here, but one friend’s private messages on Facebook have meant a lot to me over the year. I credit her with helping me learn how to pray again, even though she never said anything specific. Anyone who knows her is very lucky indeed to have her as a friend.
6. Getting braces off after 3 years is among the best things I’ve ever experienced.
I am still–nearly a month later–finding foods I can eat now. I’m still having small joys over what isn’t on my teeth. I’m still looking in the mirror and going, “Wow.”
7. I have no real idea what’s next.
I love to write, but the combination of illness and online tension pretty much sucked out my creativity. I noticed in the last quarter of the year that I had grown fearful and my writing was suffering. I didn’t have the mental energy to write much, and what little I did write felt lifeless. I even stopped blogging on Fifty Shades (though I hope to pick that back up in 2014). I also didn’t do as much editing in the second half of the year as I had been doing. I don’t know what that means for the coming year or my future in writing. When I started this blog, I never meant it to become anything much. “Blogger” is not my dream job. In fact, I have no idea what my “dream job” is. Maybe I’m not ready to figure that out yet.
8. New Year’s resolutions are not for me.
I’m making no promises for the coming year. I don’t know what it will bring. I’m working on a novel (which I’ve been previewing on my other blog). I’m writing a short story or two. I’ll keep writing this blog for now as inspiration hits, though probably not on a daily basis as I once did. The one thing I do think I’m going to do is step away from the “blogging community” (whatever that even is). I’ll keep the ones I like to read in my emails and on my “follow” list, but I’m not sure I’m going to get involved again. I got as hurt by that as I had been in church, and I don’t care to repeat that.
And there you have it. 2013 may not have been my best year, but there are things I will keep and carry forward. The rest is going in the “burn it” pile. I’m having a do-over in 2014 while I figure out where I go next.