I speak as one who has been burned by Google before. I was an avid Google Reader fan who was disproportionately angry about their decision to discontinue that service (I know use Feedly for what it\’s worth) and ever since then, I\’ve been weary about Google\’s almighty decision to unplug me from the things I use, including Blogger (which hasn\’t been updated in some time and looks as though it\’s been neglected long enough for Google not to support it anymore. That\’s sort of what started this transition, but it became much more than that. I wanted a place where I had freedom. I wanted a place where I could be messy. I wanted a place where I could be authentically me. I wanted a place that could be whatever it is I need it to be whenever I needed it. Enter WordPress and my new domain name.
Not only that, but after some thought, I decided to use this new space to hold my entire blogging life in one space. That\’s right, my friends, I have not only imported my most recent iteration of my blog from Blogger, but I have imported my long-running Xanga posts that date back to my Junior year in high school and span throughout the beginning of college. It\’s got everything. The messiness, the typos, the high school / college woes, the drama, the immaturity, the total mundaneness of my everyday life and a personal account of what I chose to share. I have spent the last several months going through each and every post I have written and at least gave them a general category and some tags so that I would be able organize everything in a somewhat meaningful way and that process was both brutal and insightful.
For those of you who think, \”This sounds interesting! I want to read some of Karen\’s past posts from when she was in high school!\”, I feel like I must warn you that many, many of the posts are dreadfully boring. Even as I trudged through the posts, I couldn\’t help but think how dull I sounded. A lot of what I chose to talk about were very mundane aspects of life (what I did that day, what I should be doing) and for whatever reason I felt no need (even through the beginning of college) to worry about punctuation and typos. Frankly, the poor writing is embarrassing and as bright and mature as I felt at the time, my work does not reflect that. Some of it is ok, particularly when I ponder life-questions I grapple with quite regularly in my life (and in my blogs under the Introspection category). But some of it is downright awful. There is a time period where I talk about a soulmate for example, and I cannot for the life of me remember who I was referring to at the time. Not a clue. I also noticed that during the part of my life I was most depressed / anxiety ridden I wrote a lot more, so a good number of posts are uncharacteristically somber.
An Enlightening Experience
So much of reading through my old posts was an exercise in self-compassion and concrete evidence on my progress. I oftentimes think that my anxiety disorder (for example) is never going to get any better. Ever. I feel like I\’m the same scared little girl that I have always been. I have been known to berate my \”lack of progress\” and scathingly criticize every misstep or mistake I\’ve ever made. I was once told in therapy that I was the most self-critical person my therapist had ever met (ouch!) and though I might not seem like I have the capacity to be cruel on the outside, internally, I can punish myself harshly and deeply for \”not being better\”, \”not trying hard enough\”, \”not showing progress.\”
However, reading through all my old posts made me very aware of how far I actually have come. Yes, I still have a ton of existential crises on a regular basis, but many things have in fact gotten better. I worried at length about never being able to be in love again (particularly after a hard breakup) and whether I would be alone forever or if anyone would ever love me. Looking back on that now with my husband by my side, I realize that it was possible for me to love again and for someone to love the craziness that is me. In so many ways I am so much more stable now than I was back then. Therapy, medication and committing to doing my inner work has made a huge impact in my psychological well-being and helping me have a much more fulfilling life than I ever thought was possible.
Reading through my past has also helped me with self-compassion. I wasn\’t able to see it at the time, but my thoughts and fears and questions and struggles were not unique to me and my situation. As I\’ve gotten older (and more mature?) and especially since studying sociology, I can see things on a more global scale. For a long time, I felt really broken and damaged. I felt like something was wrong with me that caused me to [insert undesirable behavior/thought here]. After years of therapy, it seems like everyone feels that way to an extent and that we are coping with whatever resources we have. I see my past struggles not as internal flaws, but as less than effective coping strategies that were just trying to keep me afloat during difficult times. I wasn\’t struggling because I was broken or sinful or flawed or damaged, I was struggling because I am human and the game is rigged before we even step up to play. Maybe there isn\’t anything wrong with me after all. Maybe, I\’m just responding to an environment that has set me up fail. Those are the thoughts can shatter your life (in the best way possible).
Going through the past was altogether painful, embarrassing and hugely illuminating. I made the choice to import my past onto my new \”fresh start\” because who I am now is because of where I\’ve been. I want this place to be a reflection of my life in it\’s many stages for whatever purpose I need it for. I put it out there because I don\’t want to be ashamed of who I was so I don\’t have to be ashamed of who I am today. My hope is that this place will evolve as I do, wherever my adventures take me.