I had a Yahoo blog when I was 12. Every weekend, I headed to the local library to use the computers. I figured out all the tricks and hacks to access MSN without actually having the software downloaded, so I could talk to my friends with a 13 hour time difference. I would type up entries for my Yahoo blog and catch up with what my friends were up to on Xanga. I moved a lot as a sixth-grader, and wasn’t able to visit the library to update my blog any longer. I remembered my last entry vividly. I had just swapped the main colour of my blog from a cream to a dark purple. It was about how much I hated change in my life, and how reluctant I was to confront all the changes. It’s probably a little dramatic. I’ve wanted to re-read old entries to reflect on the irony of how much I’ve changed over the years, but I couldn’t find the blog anymore. When I looked up my old username, all the search results were about dating life from suspicious looking websites.
I’m not sure when it happened, but I’ve grown to internalize my thoughts. Maybe I became increasingly self-conscious of them, worried about others’ judgement and opinions. When a thought is publicized on the internet, it feels more real and tangible than an abstract floating thought in my head. Subsequently, it’s easier to scrutinize the way a thought is expressed when I can see it in front of me. Is that a run-on sentence? Am I making silly grammatical errors that true Canadians wouldn’t make? Is that exactly what I think or is something lost in translation between my thinking to writing?
Or maybe, it’s the feeling that I am not being authentic when I share my thoughts with others. I should chew on my words and spit them out only when it felt like I made a concise point. It’s a lot easier to ramble when I brain dump in my blank Moleskine. A lot easier when my hands are simply moving to the rhythm of my thoughts, without judgement and comparison. What does it even mean to be authentic on the internet today? It feels like we have to exude authenticity on every social media platform, when everything is meticulously produced, inherently performative. No one purposely creates bad work. Does pushing out authentic work automatically mean that it’s “good”? Clearly, I have more questions than I do answers.
I had 323 drafts on my Tumblr during my most active years on Tumblr from 2013 to 2015. They consisted of pep talks, procrastination tactics, existential dread and mostly rumination on mistakes I’ve made in the past. The urge to flush out my feelings was strong, and I am glad I have a digital archive to commemorate the glorious and confusing days of my teenage years.
My never-ending quest for answers planted seeds of doubts during my early 20’s. If I never shared anything, I would never be criticized for the work I enjoy making. The more astray I felt, the tighter I gripped onto my ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Because an unsatisfactory opinion of my work meant a direct critique of me as a person. I no longer want to limit myself with restrictive beliefs that may have served me in the past. This year, I want to grow and expand into a more confident, solidified version of myself.
So I am learning to play. I am learning to document my thoughts and feelings as it feels right for me; learning to publish things that are imperfect; learning to rediscover the courage in myself that published blog entries more than a decade ago. And most importantly, learning to thrive in changing currents.