Posted on September 17th, 2021
(I’m not quite sure how to do this, so I’ll begin at the beginning and write what comes to mind. This WILL be a little disjointed (too many years and too much stuff crammed into a single entry), but I’ll probably expand on a lot of it over time.)
The first website I ever made was basically a personal blog before the word “blog” even existed. It was back in the Geocities era; I wanted a place to share my thoughts and the stories I wrote as well as occasional art. While updates can be sporadic at times, I’ve maintained a version of that in some form ever since.
It was such a neat idea back then, albeit a bit scary. Except it was far less scary than now because it was so new (read: many fewer concrete examples of how awful things could get) and people were generally friendlier for reasons I’m not sure of. And even as things changed, the good generally outweighed the bad.
I made those early sites because, like most creative people, I wanted to share my creations, and this new means of doing so was really cool and exciting. Frankly, it also helped me feel a bit less lonely, especially when other people actually responded. It was especially important to me for my last years in/first years out of a certain religion with cult-like tendencies; the internet was an anonymous space where I could be myself.
I created because I want to; then I shared because I could; then I just really, really wanted people to like me and give me a sense of self-worth (seeing as how I had none of my own) and that’s where it all went screwy. When you give other people the power to tell you who you are–to create, define, validate and destroy your sense of self–it’s never going to end well. Especially when, deep down, you just don’t like yourself that much. Creating became synonymous with pain.
After a while, I mostly just stopped. Part of it was simply life getting in the way, but the rest was growing anxiety combined with “it’s just easier to say stuff on Twitter.” When putting out bite-sized thoughts becomes a habit, it becomes harder to engage with things that take more effort, especially when you know that that effort might get no response at all or only lukewarm/negative ones. You get accustomed to existing in this little corner where you can be fairly sure nothing unexpected will happen, where everyone seems okay with you and/or you’ll be safely ignored.
I got used to being mostly invisible and found it rather nice. No pressure. No risk. No real surprises. No driving myself crazy with worry over what others thought/might think/might say or torturing myself with feelings of inadequacy, at least for that one thing. But right now (at least for now), my need to create and share is just a little stronger than my fears surrounding doing so. I miss the sense of purpose and connection it gave me; I miss giving that spark inside of me (which never really died) someplace to go and maybe—just maybe—to shine.