I was afraid I couldn’t be myself

Listen to me read this post:

Gentle reader, I have been working on curating this website for the past several months. The reasons I took it up again—

  • I felt confident I could create a delightful space that I’d be happy to tinker on
  • I really enjoy tinkering with websites, especially my own
  • I need the outlet to write and create and share, because otherwise all my existential angst ends up on Facebook
  • My mom doesn’t need to see that on Facebook

There is a lot of advice out there about starting and maintaining a blog. I know because I’ve read it all. I have also blogged a fair bit over the last decade—both personally and for brands.

When I was in college I had a personal/lifestyle blog. I was young, pretty, took good photos of myself and my world—Pinterest perfect (though Pinterest wasn’t even a thing back then). That seemed to be enough to garner a bit of a following and make some friends online. I found out I liked tinkering with my website.

Later, when I was a very young mother, I spent a lot of time sewing and knitting, so I started a craft blog. I have a propensity for tedium that crafting requires and I was good at taking photos of the finished product. I shared patterns and started a shop on etsy.com. Again, I enjoyed tinkering with my website.

Then someone suggested I start a blog about my New Agey obsessions—tarot and divination, dream interpretation, astrology. My longest running site was the Sassy Sibyl—through which I met a ton of amazing people, found opportunities to teach at conferences on each coast, self-published three decks of cards I created myself, had a huge list and Facebook following, and scored a book deal. All this came to a screeching halt when a health crisis put me in the hospital in 2013 though, and I never regained the momentum or energy to start it up again. I missed tinkering with my website.

When I was freelancing, as a writer and editor, dabbling in WordPress, I threw up one of those ultra-branded funky static-front-page websites that are supposed to appeal to female solopreneurs. You know the sort—professional photos, cool color palette. In-your-face copywriting. It wasn’t my favorite self, but look, I really needed the work. I’m grateful I found a full-time/peace-of-mind job, so I could stop all that nonsense before I started blogging six-figure business tips. 🙂

Throughout it all, I’ve been writing stories, poems, essays, and publishing here and there, keeping those worlds as separate as possible. I’ve also started and then abandoned many, many more websites and projects. I’ve had the domain name here, my name, and it’s largely languished in my Dreamhost account because—well, this is the confessional part—

I’ve spent the last ten years writing online. And the whole time, I was afraid to be my whole myself.

I was afraid, because every bit of advice on the internet will tell you this—that you need to have a niche, a focus, in order to put together a successful website. And in each of the instances above, I was able to produce a successful website… but none of those successful projects ever felt true to the whole of me. I felt like I had a fractured online identity, especially when I was the Sassy Sibyl. I had fans and friends completely devoted to my work, but I couldn’t share some of my stories with them.

I was afraid that if I wrote about parenting, it wouldn’t be safe to publish about my struggles with mental health. I was afraid that if people knew that I own approximately 200 tarot decks, they wouldn’t take me seriously in WordPress. I was afraid that I’d get laughed out of the herbalism conferences if anyone knew I love romance novels.

A switch just flipped in my head recently though. I’ve been following the wrong advice. I’m not creating a brand, I’m creating a body of work. I can even let go of the idea of a successful website, because there’s no agenda here. No conversion needed. I’m not a product I’m selling.

The thread that connects everything I do is words. I am incapable of processing, learning, or expressing myself unless I write it out. I think I’m good at it. And I’m compelled by some horrible inborn defect of character, surely, to share. (Sorry.)

And I’ve reached the point where I feel like it’s important to me to begin pulling in and capturing that body of work, else it’ll be lost forever, save the pieced together bits available on the Wayback Machine on archive.org. I don’t want to lose anymore words because my life circumstances have changed. The words are my life, or will be, in the end.

So I recovered what bits I could from the Sassy Sibyl website and threw them in the archives here. I’ll have to work harder to find and restore the rest, sadly. And I’ll continue to hammer out, over the keyboard, what I’m reading, learning, doing—because I can’t not.

I’m okay with not knowing where this is going, because where it goes, I’ve decided, is not the point.

Yours always,
M—

PS: If you’re a write-it-out person, we should connect. Have you ever felt like you have a fractured online identity? Does your Insta-life match your real-life? And if not, does it bother you?

PPS: I embellished a point above. My mom is blocked on Facebook.

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