Allow me to take extreme liberties here and suggest that I am living a Batman sort of existence.
According to my job and coworkers, I’m just a boring accountant. Little do they know that late at night, I morph into a blogger.
Of course, there are clues, if someone is looking for them….
A suspicious interest browser history list...
The clacking of my keyboard…
Sneak peaks at the NY Times health section in between spreadsheets…
Incessant blog chatter...oh wait, I never stop talking. That's not a clue.
Alas, while my blog is not a secret, I’m not exactly putting “blogger” on my resume.
It’s not explicitly against the rules, and it’s not as if I’m leaking private information or bashing a colleague, but there is still some fear that if work found out about my obsession --- err, I mean hobby, than I would be in big T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
I had already started writing this post a few days ago, but yesterday the New York Times published a story about bloggers. It’s most notably a profile on Heather Armstrong of dooce.com, a blog that I have never heard of before yesterday - perhaps, because she is a “mommy blogger” and my angle tends to slant more towards healthy eating, exercise and a general childless existence.
So what’s dooce.com all about? LIFE. From the outside looking in, there is nothing particularly extraordinary about dating, getting married, having sex, getting pregnant, becoming a parent and raising a family. We all play out some variant of this equation in our own lives.
What makes it good – great – no, awesome, is that it’s honest. The story of finding a husband can be all roses and champagne, or it can an all out extravaganza, with tears and self-doubt, plus humor, lust, frustration and every other human emotion invented – including love. And Anderson bares it all.
She candidly talked about her post-partum depression and openly criticized her coworkers, and it worked. Her blog went viral the day after she got fired – fired because of her blog bashing. And you can’t deny it, though I’d rather not lose my paying job over my “volunteer” job, don’t you want to read her post about when she got fired? Come on, admit it. I know you are heading over to her blog right now to look it up.
It’s not just the shock value of her blog that made it popular though. It’s the fact that it’s real; that she isn’t afraid to write ugly or scary thoughts. Though I have yet to experience the joy (I typed job at first, Freudian slip?) of motherhood, it would seem to be almost sacrilegious to admit that being a new mother is anything but life-shatteringly wonderful. But that’s not the story Anderson shared on her blog. Instead, she wrote about a depression so deep and dark that she considered suicide. And people listened. Because she was vulnerable and helpless and raw – the complete opposite of me.
From where I stand, I like my blog to come across as a source of authority. After all, I’m the oldest of four and my type-A personality loves to be right, even when I’m wrong. To top it all off, I’m a raging perfectionist. The last thing I want to do is let the whole world know that something isn’t right.
It’s easy to cultivate a specific image on my blog. I write it, I edit it, and I publish it. It’s mine from start to finish, but that doesn’t necessarily make it me. The things that really irk me, my biggest fears, my hate, frustration, anger, resentment, all get edited out. The thing is: I don’t want to share every secret on my blog. I don’t want you to know what happens in my bedroom or my bathroom. Those are for me to know and only me.
But I can’t deny that Anderson is on to something. That authentic dialogue is the only voice people will actually hear. There’s a reason that Jessica Simpson and the Jersey Shore became so popular and captivating and that’s because they’re not filtering themselves - even if that means risking pride and reputation.
And so while Anderson’s honesty makes her a relatable human, I don’t think that all her readers are waiting breathlessly for her next big burst of life because they want to know just what it’s like to be a mommy or a wife or a sister or a person.
We already know all about that.
Her readers sit, at the edge of their seats, the mouths slightly ajar, afraid to blink for fear of missing her next word, because real honesty takes a superhuman level of bravery. And it’s the bravery that we admire, because it’s not easy to put yourself up for judgment and criticism.
I’m taking notes on dooce.com and on some of the other great blogs out there. The ones where I hear you talk about your period or lack thereof, and your birth control or your eating disorders and your depressions, and I am listening to what you have to say with awe and amazement, hoping fiercely that one day I can put it all on the table too.
Right now it’s all about the baby steps. It took a lot of guts to just write a blog. And then more to post it on Facebook and actually ask someone to read it. Still way more guts to post a comment on someone else’s blog and to openly talk about it as an important part of my life, and not some ancillary activity. But I’m getting there, day by day and post by post. I’m trying to find my voice and to tell you the pretty and ugly of running and living in New York City and of just plain living. My filter is still on, but it's getting less and less action as time goes on.
I can only hope that one day, I’ll get over my fear of being judged and just be me.