Friday, July 10, 2009

A Conundrum...and an [Embarrassing] Plea for Feedback

This post might seem a little strange since I always try keep this blog positive and to leave out my personal problems. I started this blog with the intention of finding a platform for my passions and creative curiosities and not as a place to complain, whine, vent, or divulge [though those type of blogs have their place as well]. However, recently I have found myself feeling strangely sad and alienated, and I was hoping to get some feedback from my wonderful readers, because I know many of you are also bloggers, writers, researchers, artists, and aesthetes...and maybe some of you have had similar issues or thoughts?

When I first started this blog [a year ago!] it was an experiment. I had no idea how long it would last or how devoted I would become. As it turns out, it has been amazing, inspiring, fun, enlightening...and tons and tons of work! I have made friends with so many interesting and talented people from around the world. Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand and could make all of my incredible blog-friends appear right here, all at once, and that we could all sit around drinking tea and chatting about strange, beautiful things!

I guess that is kind of where the alienating part comes in though: while I have so many fellow "virtual" compatriots, I don't actually feel like I have anyone in my life to share many of my interests with. Now don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful boyfriend and fantastic friends, but very few people I actually know look at or give me feedback on my blog. So, I often feel like I have this separate little box that I keep my passions in, and when I'm around friends or family, I just set it aside, because I sense that it is not of interest to them.

My boyfriend reminded me the other day that I did not start this blog in order to create a stronger bond between myself and the people already in my life, but rather as a way to cultivate a new community of people out in the world that have similar interests. While he has a good point, I guess I just assumed subconsciously that the people I am close to would automatically take interest, because it was something that was important to me. What I did not foresee happening was that I would become so passionately attached and serious [in a good way] about the work and ideas I share here every week or that my blog would become such an important part of me, my daily life, and my self-perception. Because of that, I find myself taking it personally that no one I know seems 'impressed' or 'interested' by what I do [this is a Leo trait, LOL!]. While that is slightly embarrassing for me to admit, I feel that it is a legitimate feeling and I have to at least acknowledge that it is there [if not, at least, to overcome it].

So, I guess my question begins here: have any of you had these same issues or these same confusing feelings of fulfillment on the one hand mixed with alienation on the other? Is it reasonable to want the people close to me to take interest and give feedback or should I just come to peace with the idea that this project is a separate endeavor from my day-to-day life?

I feel as if on one end, if I continue to maintain this blog and delve deeper and deeper into my particular interests, that I will just feel more and more sad that I don't have a person in my life to appreciate and share my ideas with, but on the other hand, I feel as if I ignore this part of myself that I will just become disconnected, fake, boring, and unfulfilled. What a ridiculous conundrum!

Thanks so much for your kindness if you read this...I look forward to hearing your thoughts!



caroline duke said...

i completely understand, tara. the same thing used to really bother me, as it's evolved into a sort of main hobby. but now i feel like i've carved a little community for myself with people who are way more fun than the people i actually know. ha.

then another part of me wants to meet up with all my blog friends and make them real-life friends.

i guess i can't really help you other to say that i've felt the same way.

OptART said...

Your blog is amazing! When I recommend it to others they always have wonderful things to say about you and your posts. I, for the most part, happen to be a non-commenter.:( There are plenty of us out there. My dear friend Val had a very similar experience to the one you are having when she wrote online for Yahoo Shine. Feedback becomes so much a part of blogging. Just know that you have many devotees that enjoy your dedication and the hard work that you put into your blog!

PIGNOUF said...

Courage Tara !
C'est une situation qui nous arrive souvent...:)

Christie said...

I love your blog and enjoy my visits here. I like you sometimes feel more attached to blog friends who share my interests. Of course friends and family in the real world are wonderful, but sometimes I feel if they would read my blog that they might know me better. They all know I have a blog, but seldom check it. I am especially excited about your blog since you live in Oklahoma. Which can at times seem to be a vast empty space as far as finding people with similar interests. Anyway keep on keepin on.

Poke Salad Annie said...

i know what you mean. i don't think anyone i know (except my husband) ever looks at my blog (though they all know i have one), and i've felt a wee bit alienated at times because of it. just know that there are many of us out here who do share you interests, and who find your writing fascinating and inspiring. i think it's better to share your interests and your talents via a forum such as this than not to share them at all, and i, for one, am certainly glad that you do! :)

Anonymous said...

Haha! I just spent a looong time writing a comment for this post, then when I tried to publish it, this message appeared:

Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters.

I considered simply sending it in an e-mail, but then I thought that if somebody reads your post and feels the same way you (we) do, they might be interested in my answer as well. Thus the numerous comments... (if you feel this doesn't fit in your blog somehow, I promise not to be offended if you deleate the following comments ;)

*clears throat*


Anonymous said...

Oh, darling, I know only too well how you feel! My blog, too, started as kind of an experiment, a way to "vent" my interest in fashionable things since nobody in my actual life care much about fashion. And meeting other people with similar ideas and interests through my blog has been wonderful, and has assured me that fashion is not a "foolish" or "self-centered" interest at all, really. Recently I've spent more time on my blog that on my music (though that's mostly because I've been ill, and it's the holidays), and I've been a bit concerned whether this will damage my future as a musician. I cling to the hope that when school starts again in August (on my birthday, of all days - I'm a Leo too ;) I'll be able to keep my blog as a hobby and focus mainly on my band.

Anonymous said...

(...)Anyway, what I really wanted to tell you, was that I feel exactly the same when it comes to my own friends and the people around me. Except for Boyfriend and my oldest younger sister, not one of my friends read my blog or has even brought it up in conversation. My two best friends in the whole world (both of which are girls, by the way) never mention it at all unless I tell them about a particular post I just wrote, thinking (or hoping?) they might find it interesting. They'll probably read said post, but never comments in the blog itself or says much to me about it. This usually makes me quite sad - I mean, I listen to them talk about their life, so why aren't they interested in mine? Other times (usually when I've got the mean reds or are very tired) I wonder whether they simply believe fashion to be a silly, superficial interest and think I should spend my time in a better way.

Anonymous said...

(...)Some days I think the reason they show so little interest might just be because they don't know how important my blog is to me, and how much time and effort I put into it each week. But in those cases my brain (or is it the heart?) always blurts out: "But I write in my blog several times a week! Surely that's a sign of how much I like it! And I talk about it as much as I can without feeling like I'm boring them. How can they possibly not know?"

I also know what you mean when you talk about wanting a little feedback - or even just a compliment - now and then. And when complete strangers can tell me that they like my blog, that they think I'm a good writer or take good pictures, why can't my friends in real life do it once in a while?

Ugh. Sorry, that sounded kind of whiny, I just realized. The worst part is that I don't have an answer for you - I still haven't figured out what to do, whether to think that me feeling hurt by my close friends' lack of interest is completely understanding, and okay, or whether simply to drop it and quit mentioning it to them any more.

Anonymous said...

(...)My current strategy seems to be to treat this the same way I treat friendships which feel... unbalanced (you know - you feel that you're the only one who calls, the only one who's interested in the other one's life, etc.). My friendship with one of the previously mentioned "best friends" feels like that at the moment, and this time I've decided that I'm not going to call her until she's called me, simply to see how long it takes.

To "translate" this into a blog-strategy: mention the blog now and then for a little while, perhaps explain a little about how it works (I found it hard to believe when I first thought about this, but I've discovered that a lot of people simply don't know what a blog is, or how social it can be, including comments and feedbacks and such). Then see if some of the people you are dealing with ever show any interest on their own accord, without you mentioning the topic first.

Anonymous said...

If they don't, I am currently debating whether to simply stop mentioning the blog to them any more (and probably also be forced to consider what this says about the person in question), or tell the her how I feel and try to explain that this is not just a silly waste of time, but a big part of me and my life. Hopefully this might make the other person understand, but then again, maybe not.

Right. This is without a doubt the longest comment I've ever written (take it as a compliment! ;), but I've had the same "ridiculous conundrum" for a while now, and was really relieved to know I'm not the only one. It also made me feel a little less silly/immature/self-centered, so I can only hope my comment might do something of the same to you. Bravo for bringing up the subject, kitten!

PS: Congratulations with your first year as a blogger! May there be many, many more ♥

This ends my ridiculously long comment.

Ana said...

Hello Tara!
I follow your blog since 2008. I'm a portuguese girl doing an MA in Arts and I must say that everyday when I arrive home after work and college I read your posts and feel quite inspired by the thinks you talk about. I do not have a blog, but I think it's the same about life isn't it? Sometimes we feel detached but we must keep going on. I'm not that mystical but sometimes I think that certain things in life are a kind of a mission that you just can't leave behind. I'm always looking forward to see what you've posted so, please don't give up.

P.S - Sorry about the english but I'm not a native english speaker.


Sam said...

Oh Tara! Do I know where you're coming from my friend!!! I have actually cooled off on my former "best" friend because of her utter refusal to engage in my online world. I don't expect her or others to check in to my blog every day - but at least look at it ONCE dammit! or ask me what I write about or ...something! Nope nothing - and I really find it RUDE!! I ask about her daughter, her man, her life with him - so why does she not reciprocate? I've had other "friends" who I have given my blog address to and I know they've visited but then they ignore me and my blog - what's that all about? Jealousy? Technophobia? ...I totally share your pain Tara a million times over! Fortunately, my boyfirend is an utter sweetheart and adores my blog but he is the single solitary person in the real world who does. I just don't expect anything from "real" world people now! Don't let it get you down sweetie, you are not alone! P.S. sorry about the long comment but you really hit a nerve there!

Braindance said...

I feel quite different about the friends and family dichotomy of this post.
I choose to keep my blog a private aspect of my life; I would be fairly perturbed if I knew my friends were reading it on a daily basis.

My blog is my personal homage to alternative beauty, art, stupidity, and inspirational people; I guess I am a closet narcissist, doing something, mainly for myself.

In fact, I have told only one friend that I write one. My husband knows, and I think he looks at it now and then. He gives me positive feedback on what he sees, what made him laugh and so forth.

One of my main reasons for keeping it private is the sense of freedom I get, the sense of having a platform to share all the images and thoughts I collect without having them dissected by people I know. I am a private type of character who benefits from the anonymity of a hidden identity.

I like to think that if my friends stumbled upon it, they then have an uncluttered decision to make, about if they like it or not.

I would like more feedback from the people who log in every day, the lurkers so to speak, but seeing has I am fairly guilty of lurking myself; I do not take it to heart.

Courtney said...

Your post has given me a lot to think about. I'm a little hesitant to post my ideas because I'm kind of projecting onto you and analyzing you . . . as if I know all the answers. So please take my comment with a grain of salt--and please let me know what you think about it.

I really relate to the anger of feeling isolated from friends, but also believing I'm acting childish for wanting their attention regarding what I'm working on. Sometimes it feels like I'm a big puddle of anger--anger towards others and then anger towards myself for even feeling angry.

There are many reasons for this type of situation, I think. One thing I've been paying attention to is my old thought that I used to have to play a different role depending on who I was around; I would be different as a student, a teacher, a daughter, a friend, a partner. And a different student with different teachers and a different teacher with different students and a different daughter with different parents . . . ad naseum.

I think I did this because I thought I knew other people's needs and so I tried to fulfill their needs without paying attention to my own needs.

I do think we need flexibility in dealing with different people, but I'm starting to really disagree with the idea that we have to be different people depending on who we are around.

What helps me is reframing the outside world as helpers instead of hinderers. When I'm the most peaceful I have the ability to ask myself what I want and then to explore how I can get those needs/wants met. And then I feel more comfortable asking others for help; and sometimes they can help and sometimes they can't. If I'm disappointed, I feel that and then keep going. If I'm gratified, I feel that and keep going.

No matter what, we keep going. Doing it with the belief that the world is on your side instead of against you, really helps. Because I think what is at the core is the insidious belief that we are not doing things right or that we are somehow too much for this world. I think that's a form of us not trusting ourselves because we aren't trusting that we can find ways to get our needs met. And, like you say, we first need to be able to name what we need and want before we can even do anything about them.

I think it can be really painful to believe that you have to separate yourself around different people, online and in person. It can be really painful to feel like an outsider even while knowing that everyone feels like an outsider at some points. I kind of think the best we can do is to be true to ourselves and speak up. And then to see what happens, in our selves and with others.

I think we'd like to think we're so in control of everything, when we really aren't! That realization is horrifying, but then kind of fun! But for sure painful, and so I hope you are acting gentle with yourself.

I admire you speaking up about these awkward feelings. I completely relate. And I completely love your blog; without you as a model, I don't think I would have kept my blog going.

Folly said...

A blog in many ways is kind of a private space where you can indulge yourself in any way you want. In a passion, in strong emotions, in a hobby, in a talent. Some people might find that quite scary, especially friends who thought they knew you or who don't quite know how to react to this side of you. That's not to say you're different from anybody else, as everybody has a side of themselves, or an inner part of themselves, that nobody else gets to see, or which has restricted access, you might say. It's a lovely thing that you trust your friends enough to invite them in to your blog and that part of yourself. I think it shows great self confidence and self esteem. Enjoy exercising that part of yourself, and treasure the friends who have the strength of character or whatever it takes to join you in blogland, but perhaps don't expect it of everyone. It wouldn't be such a special place if everyone crowded in!

Catherine said...

I feel you all too! I have sometimes wondered if my "real-time" friends don't feel a need to interact with my virtual life. They know the REAL me - the one with all the personal flaws and interpersonal mistakes. Hard as it is to own this, my virtual self is one I can "craft" - one where even my flaws can have a spin put on them. I'm not being dishonest or disingenuous, but my blog, on-line store, etc. are only one part of the whole me.

My real-time friends have a context in which to set me that de-glamorizes/un-spins my virtual self. In the end, I know that they are every bit as appreciative of my talents and work as my on-line friends, because they appreciate it directly with me, even while knowing the whole me. They get me all the time. And this gives me a wee bit of comfort when they don't visit my blog or store.

I don't know if that made any sense, but if it did, I hope it helps. Please know I highly value and admire your online interaction with me and the rest of the virtual community, and so appreciate your candid, heartfelt post today! It expressed the feelings of us all.

Anonymous said...

my only advice to you is this:
talk about what interests you anyway. like, when we are at a party or the dirty lake or some shit-hole bar, just start droppin' your passion on us like it's your job. i'm not kidding. it'd make for way more interesting conversation than what so-and-so's kid did last week or who-and-who's boyfriend is being a jerk. or which right-winger is blurting out something racist, fucked up, sexist, etc.
for real.
i love you and your interests and your knowledge and your passions.

ana b. said...

Hi lovely,

This is a sad post indeed. To sum up you feel as if the interests you lay bare on your blog are not shared by those who read it/comment but also by those who you are near and dear to in real life?

How do you know that your readers don't share the same interests? Is it a dissatistfaction with lack of comments? I find that the blogosphere is like a high school popularity contests - comments are like votes. But I have always thought that the quality of a blog can't be measured by the number of comments but by the relationships the author makes with other readers, and the authenticity and integrity of their voice. Your blog has always been outstanding in this respect.

I think it's interesting that you're questioning what it means to really know who you are or know who other people are. I feel that my blog friends know me in a way real-life friends and family do not.

As a practical option, I sometimes like to disable the comments section in posts. It takes pressure off.


Chrissy Foreman C said...

Hi Tara! It must be really refreshing to find out that many of us fellow bloggers have varying experiences with blogging also.
I have this insane passion to share what I know because I believe in my arty work so much, which was a major reason for beginning my blog in the first place.
I used to get a little upset that the people important to me didn't seem to show much of an interest in my blog as well, until I realised something ~ people need things handed to them on a platter to take notice. In my experience, blogs are generally 'followed' by fellow bloggers, not as much by non-bloggers ~ so now when I write a post I get excited by, I email it out to my loved ones ~ aka hand it to them on a platter.
I get great feedback that way too and I feel more of a sense of connection, because I'm sending it out to real people rather than posting it into cyberspace.
I've actually gotten paid work by doing this also, cause people get to see the stuff I do that they wouldn't normally see (because they're too busy with stuff other than my blog).
All that said, I LOVE your blog and visit regularly.

Wicked Darling said...

I love your blog! I am not one to post comments very often and I think that there are so many people out there like me...I just come here to read and look and soak up everything! It is relaxing and intriguing! I always find something new here to explore! Keep it up! Don't change a thing!

[Tara] said...

Caroline -- I totally feel you!! Dammit! Why haven't WE met up?? ;)

Lindsay -- I love you sis! Thanks for the comment [you should do it more!]. And you're right, for bloggers, feedback becomes so important, and it can be hard to put in perspective sometimes.

Pignouf -- Thank you so much -- merci!!! You have always been there since the beginning, I love your blog, and I appreciate you very much. Thanks for the encouragement.

[Tara] said...

Christie -- It is quite comforting [but a little infuriating!] to hear others have the same experience. Thank you so much for your kind words. You also always have incredibly interesting posts, and I'm always so happy to read my fellow Okie's blogs.

Annie -- You are right. It truly is better to have a forum online than no forum at all! You know I think your blog is one of the best out there...and those folks are crazy for not taking interest ;)

Airam -- I know I already visited your blog and told you thanks and how much your message meant to me...but, I again just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for your support, sympathy, and honesty. You really cheered me and made me feel happy to know people like you!

[Tara] said...

Ana -- Oi Ana!! Tudo Bem?? I'm so happy to hear I have Brazilian readers out there -- I love Brazil [I used to live there for a short time]. Your English is perfect, by the way, so no worries. Your words are so kind and I am extremely flattered and happy you dropped by to comment. You made my day!

Sam -- You expressed some of my feelings quite well! ANGER. YES. I don't feel nearly as embarrassed or needy now, just knowing that this is not an unusual issue! Thank you so, so much for sharing! We all need validation sometimes, I suppose.

Braindance -- Your comment made me chuckle -- I loved it! Thanks for giving me another view on the issue; it actually made me realize that despite the "public" forum, blogging can actually be quite personal and private on another level.

Courtney -- I cannot express to you how accurately you captured my feelings! You are good, girl! I, like yourself, almost always feel like I need to alter myself a bit depending on who I am around, because I feel concerned about meeting the needs and expectations of those people. This is something in life [not just regarding my blog] that you have made me realize needs to be re-assessed. Thank you my friend!!!

Folly -- I actually never thought of it like that: people who know me might find it strange, or intimidating, or unfamiliar, and thus not know how to apprach it. Thank you so much for giving your take on this issue!

Catherine -- this was a lovely comment and gave me some perspective. I know that you are right and just need to find a balance between reality and expectations...

Spring -- I love your comments! You always throw the F-Bomb out like no one's business and crack me up! You have no idea how many times I've been tempted to do just that same situation you described!

Ana B. -- No, no. I didn't want it to be sad...I just wanted to get advice and see if others had this experience as well. I try not to ever think about numbers of comments -- I do not wish to participate in any sort of popularity contest and the regular visitors to my blog are amazing, thoughful, and talented! My issue has more to do with my trouble translating the importance of my blog and my interests in the "real world" of family and friends.

Chrissy -- Thank you so much! This advice seems so obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in our blog-world that we forget other people just don't get it or understand. Your suggestion to "hand it to them on a platter" is excellent advice...and I plan to start right away ;)

Wicked Darling -- Thank you so much! Your blog is one of my favorites, and I'm so happy to have such fascinating visitors. Thank you for the encouragement!

bonjouritsjinah said...

Tara- well first off, I've been out of the blog loop for the past month and I have to say, the caliber of posts on your blog are really super lately.

Second, I do understand how you feel. I've accepted that my "in real life" friends don't participate in communities through the web the same way I do and I can't expect them to.

I will say that I have had positive response by attending more blog related events (where people understand!). And I mentioned my blog once at work (where I work with all women) and over the next few weeks several girls would mention one or two things they read. Maybe they do read and you just don't realize it!

rachael said...

I can totally see what you mean about your friends not bein' hip to something that you feel deeply for. Mine don't know tonnes about my writing, art, photography, etc. and they don't even know about my new blog. MAybe our friends don't have to know everything? Our blogs are just one part of us, as you said. :)