Checking In: It’s been a while

Oh hey there! Happy Friday!

So… you may not know this, but I disappeared for a while. I went from February 5th to March 15th without posting a single thing on this website. I know, I know, “big deal”, right? I’ve only had this site since 2016 and am I’m only starting to use it regularly now. Plus, I’ve posted two new things since that gap. I get it. But, this was part of a major commitment to myself to start having a real, tangible, presence as a writer. Blogging is probably the easiest and most beginner-friendly means of getting your voice as a human out there. And yet, as I have discovered, it is not in fact easy… Why? Well, mostly because life happens. When life happens, if your blog, like mine, is not a part of your income, it’s really easy to let it fall to the wayside.

Part of that, I think, is because we tend to treat blogs as journals. That’s pretty much what this post is about. Here in a moment I’m going to talk about what’s been going on in my life that stopped me from posting for that month. But I want to talk about what I’ve been thinking about in that time first. This blog is pretty much intended to be my personal social commentary platform. I’d like to monetize, and I’d like to start vlogging or podcasting, but all those things come with start-up costs and I don’t want to waste my own time and money (or your time and attention) with the monetization process until I can prove to myself that I can and will stick to this. Part of this is a continuation of my personal distrust of myself and my own motivation, but a lot of it is that I’m a pretty cautious person by nature. Social commentary is both socially risky and exists in a glutted market right now. In my social circle I can open up Facebook pretty much any time and get a LOT of social commentary from my friends. It’s valuable stuff, but that makes it harder to carve out a digital niche for the kind of content I want to produce. I still think that speaking up and out is valuable, I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise, but that also slows down the process of transitioning from creating content to making money from that content.

Why bring this up in a catch-up post? Well, it’s important to me to be transparent not only about what I think and what I’m doing as a content creator, but also to be transparent about the thought process behind it.  I want to monetize. I want to write consistently and to have this blog be a regular part of my personal internet conversation with the world. And, for a month this year (which we aren’t even half way into) I didn’t do that.

So what happened? Well… a lot. Early in February I got hit with a double whammy of a resurgence in the depression that comes with my PTSD. Late winter / early spring has been my least favorite season since I was a kid. Everything outside turns brown and gray and I live somewhere that usually stays muddy for months on end. We get just enough snow to stay in a pretty constant state of melt without getting to enjoy the soft white stuff blanketing the landscape. I also have a vitamin D deficiency significant enough that my doctor thinks I may be mildly stunted, which makes some sense since my brother is a giant. He’s also a redhead, and the recessive gene that causes redheadedness also comes with a change in the way our skin produces vitamin D, basically making it so that you get more vitamin D compared to the quality of sun you’re exposed to. It’s cool stuff. But he got the magical hair and the greater than 6 foot height and I got dishwater blonde hair and strictly American average height. Between the weather just being generally unpleasant, my PTSD, the vitamin D deficiency, and the fact that I live in the northern hemisphere, I am more susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically I get the winter sad, and it usually hits in February.

I’m also long-winded. I’ve been told. Please don’t stage an intervention.

This February I found myself questioning whether writing was a viable or reasonable path for me. I have a lot of people supporting me who think that going for my dream is a good idea, but I am plagued by the Gifted and Talented trap of constant imposter syndrome. People have always expected me to do well, and the fact that I have always done pretty well academically and creatively feels like a lie. Like most people, I look at the things I produce and can easily compare the actual product with my internal conception of what it could have been. That imaginary picture is always a better version than the final product. Because I can see those flaws there is also a part of my brain, lets call it the creativity-killing Gremlin, that thinks that the positive reactions of others are pitying lies. I was questioning whether I could justify trying to make money off a less than perfect end-result. I know how silly that is, I used to work for Comcast for goodness sake, and ain’t nothing there is perfect. I know. You know how I know? I spent eight hours a day hearing about how not perfect everything about Comcast is. But they are still a HUGE highly successful multi-media corporation that not only provides valuable services but also influences our interaction with fundamental parts of our lives, like the internet. Unfortunately the Gremlin isn’t great at logic, so reminding it of little things like ‘nothing is ever perfect’ doesn’t actually put it back in it’s crate.

Just as I was starting to come out of that funk, largely thanks to my wonderful partner and supportive friends and family, I was in a car crash. I was hit by another vehicle in a parking lot, my little Volvo hatchback was totaled, and I got a concussion. My partner was also in the car. Thankfully they are okay. So is the other driver. But, between the concussion and the suddenly precarious position I found myself in thanks to the totaled car, my depression came surging back. It’s been a few weeks now, and I still don’t have a car. We’ve looked at a lot of vehicles in our price range, but all of them have had some pretty major issues that would require urgent repair. I’m less in control of my own negative mental processes than I have been in a long time, in part because my brain’s ability to regulate it’s own chemical process is even more challenged than normal.

In the meantime I also have college. This semester has been better for me that school has been in a long time. I enjoy my classes, the material is interesting and the professors have new insight and analysis that fascinates me. My grades are also higher than they’ve been for a long time because I’ve been able to stay on top of my work and produce higher quality work than previous semesters. The concussion put all of that at risk for a while (although I’m mostly out of the woods now).

So, between my natural depression, college, a concussion, and the general stress and shakeup that comes with a crash like this, things have felt really out of control and impermanent recently. I had just recently put a lot of money into the maintenance on that car, my partner’s truck is older than either of us and needs some work before it’s drive-able. We also live about 40 minutes outside the nearest city, and there aren’t really any closer small towns. So we’re currently reliant on the transportation of our roommates. We’d carpooled for a long time, so it’s not really an issue, but our freedom to run errands, make appointments, or even just to do general chores is severely limited.

I talked earlier about how I think we tend to treat blogs like journals. I treated this blog like a journal because all of these other things became more important to me than posting here. I didn’t stop thinking about things I’d like to write and post, particularly in the political realm as the Democratic race for 2020 has started to heat up, but I didn’t write up those posts. Or, when I did start writing, I didn’t finish the piece, or decided that it had taken long enough to write that it was no longer relevant to the political conversation. I’m trying to second-guess myself less on those kinds of things. It’s literally impossible for one person without a research team to keep up with the 24-7 news cycle, so I’m trying not to hold myself to the impossible standard of by the minute relevance. I’m also trying to tell myself that the goal is to produce quality content, even if that content isn’t coming out immediately after something happens in our world. I also know that sometimes life has to come first. I’m not mad at myself for not posting, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge it. This blog isn’t a journal, and it needs a higher priority in future.

Wow this post got long. Thank you for sticking with it, and sticking with me, while I forage my own path toward this lifelong goal. I can’t promise there won’t be more bumps in the road. In fact, I can pretty much promise that there will be bumps aplenty. But I will do everything I can to be transparent and honest and real.

Whelp. That’s it for today folks. I’ve got ideas for some new content, so hopefully you’ll be seeing more soon. Let me know if you want me to talk about anything in particular in the comments, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

-R.

2 thoughts on “Checking In: It’s been a while”

  1. What are you writing for your classes? Surely some of it is interesting enough to put on a blog!
    On weeks that you're struggling to do entries, I know your work ethic, and I'm sure you're still writing or learning. Take some of those essays (maybe pare them down a bit) and post them!

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