This New Year has been slow to start. I feel like we are all coming out of hibernation and blinking at this new year, that is frankly, starting out a little rough. Writing is crawling along slowly, 500 words or so at a time. I have about 14000 words left to hit my word count goal for this draft.
The blog has been dormant for a little over a month. I hit a point in the revisions of the story I’ve been posting here where it needed more work than I could give it with the holiday shuffle going on. I’ve solved a couple of problems, though, and I should resume chapters next Tuesday.
I have had thoughts that I played with turning into a blog post here and there. I start them over and over again, and realize that no one really gives a crap about what I have to say. This is only partially a self-esteem issue (which I think all writers have when it comes to putting their words out for other people to read), but it is also the way things work right now. Everyone has opinions and place to air them. Everyone wants to be heard, and we are all shouting over each other. No one is listening. No one cares. We are waiting for our turn to reply, not listening to what the other person is saying.
I’m as guilty as the next person. I recognize when I am biting my tongue to keep from interrupting and only waiting for the other person to pause for breath before I jump in. As I don’t see a whole lot of people in person these days, aside from my family, I’ve been able to curb that tendency pretty easily. Online though, that’s been harder. It is so easy to offer an opinion or a comment that is wholly unsolicited and inappropriate. Some may argue that is the point of social media, to engage in a conversation with lots of people. For me, it’s ceased being a conversation. It is just throwing offhanded comments out and hoping for a response, and all too often that response is formulaic, or a simple button push to like something. (Of which I am certainly guilty.)
No one cares that I’m getting my windows replaced on Monday. No one cares that my daughter got a haircut. No one cares that I cleaned my kitchen. I don’t need to share these bits with the world. No one needs to know my political leanings, or who I think should get an Oscar. Partly because these are mundane details that don’t need broadcasting, and partly because everyone is so wrapped up in what they are broadcasting.
I saw an article posted on the Book of Face about how if you have problems with all the people in your life, you may be the toxic one. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Am I the toxic one? Am I the problem? My history certainly points to that.
I don’t think I’m the only problem. I don’t think it is possible for me to be the only problem, from a purely statistical point of view. That would make me possibly the most horrible person on the planet, and given my relative lack of heinous crimes, I’m going go with that not being the case.
I ran into someone I know casually at the grocery store a few weeks back. I said hello to her and her child, and it was clear that she would have rather been anywhere else than talking to me. There was actual distaste involved in her expression. To my knowledge, I have never done anything to her to cause that kind of reaction. We never really hit it off, or became friends, but I have never injured her in any way. I was a bit surprised, and it certainly made me rethink every interaction ever had to try and figure out what I had done wrong. In the end, I came up with nothing. So what prompted that reaction?
I’m left wondering if we, as a population here in the U.S. (or at least in the Pacific Northwest) have completely ceased to be able to relate to people in general. I certainly don’t need every interaction to be deep and meaningful, but every time I try and engage with someone, I’m left with the feeling that I am not meeting whatever expectations they have, and therefore am not worth their time. And on the flip side, if I am attentive and listen, then I become a receptacle for everything they need, and I am rarely afforded the time to even tell them how I am.
So, what is the problem? Me? Social Media? Everyone else? The region I live in? A likely combination of all these factors?
Social media certainly has changed the way we interact. With a few clicks you can know an awful lot about people, and make a snap decision if they are someone you want to be friends with or not. No further effort required. I am not trying to bash social media – there are a bazillion think pieces on that – because I have made some very wonderful friends on social media, and as someone who doesn’t get out much (or at all), it can be the only way I converse with another adult. Not that the 3 year old isn’t a brilliant conversationalist, but sometimes you want to talk about anything other than Daniel Tiger or who pooped last.
I don’t have an answer. Some might tell me I need to put myself out there more, and that’s probably true too. But if I’m being really honest, I’m tired. I’m tired of performing for someone else to like me, and that’s what it often feels like. But the times I was just myself didn’t work out either, so, again, I’m at a loss.
I return, over and over, to the idea that I need to be comfortable being with myself before anyone else is going to be interested in what I have to say, or what’s going on with me. That I need to sit alone and do the things that are important to me, and slowly work out how to be friends with other people. And maybe I never will. Maybe I will continue to be the problem. Who knows? I do know that as long as I feel like I have to meet other people’s expectations of me, I will always fall into the trap of performing. Until I believe that what I have to say is important, no one else will. And maybe, if I keep writing, and I keep sharing it, something will resonate with someone who feels the same.
So, I am going to sit here, and gather the momentum to get my words out there. I am going to work on this thing that is very important to me, and continue being with my little family. I’m going to work on being a friend to myself, possibly for the first time ever, and go from there.