My Problem with “Fitting In”

I’ve spent this last year relatively distance from blogging, where it has normally been a day-to-day priority. This may be due to a shifting in my online persona. I only started using this blog and username across social media about a year ago, and I’ve found it hard to find my passion this year. Book blogging has been a solace and a personal inspiration for about six years and this year has been a sudden break from that. I’m not condemning my choices since I’ve probably needed this break to find myself and in all honesty, start over. Start over with renewed passion and focus. Start over knowing why doing this fulfils me and acts to enrich myself, rather than being a passive staple of who I am.

I’ve attempted to reflect on why I needed to start over. I started book blogging on Tumblr because the knew the platform well, having been on the site for about three years before actively focusing on books. Initially, there was nothing wrong with my motivations; I started book blogging because its naturally what I spend my time thinking and talking about and I wanted to share that online. It helped hone my love for books. Knowing how much I love books and reading has solidified a large part of my personality and has led to me knowing myself better. I thank book blogging, especially the booklr community for this.

The reason I felt I had to take a break from the tumblr book community (which meant all blogging for me), was that I felt there was no place for me. This is just my opinion but book tumblr popularises the generic. I mean this in the sense that my most commented posts where about popular series (i.e Harry Potter, Divergent, Hunger Games) and that if you were reading or posting about books that everyone was reading then you may as well not exist.

This was obviously not the environment for me but it made me feel like maybe I don’t belong anywhere in the book community. I thought maybe my tastes in books are too varied. I don’t fit into a box easily. I read a mix of new releases (both YA and adult) but it doesn’t even compare to the amount of books I read that are “backlisted”.

I don’t exactly want to condemn the book community for creating an environment that focuses on the same series/authors and that rarely leaves the Young Adult section of the bookstore. But this is a reality for the online book community and it leads to a feeling of isolation to those who wish to be be included in a space that is dominated by this type of media.

I’ve felt like it doesn’t matter if I spent time writing a review for an exquisite piece of translated fiction because it only has a Goodreads rating of 3.3. I’ve also perpetuated this feeling of exclusion to prevent creative choices such as creating reviews or pursing booktube videos that focus on my specific opinions.

I’m aware that this is internalised isolation. It obviously matters to me if I do or don’t create content online, so I shouldn’t be focusing on how it will be received to prevent the initial creation. It has been a major part of my life for such a while and I don’t believe I’m ready to let it slip away. I want to focus on defying this definition  I’ve placed on the entirety of the online book community. If I am more than that definition (e.g. reading backlisted books, non-YA books), then I definitely am not the only one. A community is not defined by any one individual or even by a sample. A community is the culmination of difference, and stepping outside the conformity that I’ve conceived to be inherent in the book community is intrinsic to fortifying and experiencing 21st century book culture.

My voice still matters (even if its just to me) in this community. I want to focus on my content; the real reason behind my desire to feel included in the first place. I will be included in this community by virtue of contributing my voice, and that is the focus I want to bring into the new year. I don’t want to forsake being me and creating content I’m proud of for a perception of exclusion. I want to be unequivocally me.

 

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Inconsistent Blogging Doesn’t Nullify the Title

I have always been this way. It’s hard to change and I’m constantly trying not to judge myself too harshly.

I am a inconsistent blogger.

I know, the SHAME. I’ve been blogging for years and years, yet I can never stick to a schedule or even post somewhat consistently. Even with this blog that I created at the end of 2016, I haven’t posted since New Year. As more time when on, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t kept up with blogging like I had wanted to.

But then I realised something. I arrived at an epiphany. It doesn’t matter. I can blog whenever I feel like it, even if the mood for it happens in between months. This is my blog and my life, and I’m entitled to be inconsistent.

I read a lot, and whilst this is great for my Goodreads goal, it impacts on how I prioritise my time, and blogging, as the consistently neglected, always falls to the wayside. This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy blogging, or that I’m not a blogger, just that, for me, my blogging happens in waves.

So is this me stating another unrealistic goal? Am I saying that I’m jumping back on the bandwagon that I keep missing? Not really. I would like to make writing and blogging a higher priority. But there will be no unreasonable promises coming from me. I will not make 2 posts weekly ad infinitum. I will not resign myself to an unsuccessful schedule that will just enforce shame around an activity I enjoy.

Though I am a blogger, just on my own terms. Those being – whenever I feel like it.

Looking Onwards in the New Year

Last year was a difficult one, but like many others we have made it through to see the beginning of a new year. It would defeatist of me to surrender to the horrible things that dominated the news last year, and coming out of 2016 I have made it my mission to not let life defeat me. I struggled deeply with mental health issues and there were some pretty difficult and scary points of the year for me. I don’t mean to linger on them but it is helpful to reflect that I’ve made it through. I decided mid-year to keep trying even harder to help myself, and that meant putting myself out there. I started socialising more, studying harder, and facing my fears and seeing doctors again. This led to making friends, meeting Ross, achieving amazing results at university and finding both a pill that works for me as well as a psychologist. I can safely say that whilst this year has been difficult, I have preserved to my benefit and it makes me immensely proud.

Since a lot of the positive changes in my life were made in the second half of last year, my resolutions are more a continuation and commitment to the choices I was already making in my life. Whilst I’ve achieved some great things, I can always keep improving myself and now I know how far I can go, so I don’t want to stop.

Health

I want to keep improving my health, both physical and mental. I would like to avoid binge eating and to exercise is whatever way I can a few times a week. Exercise can be difficult for me when my chronic fatigue is acting up but I feel confident that I can actively work around it this year and hopefully that will help in the management of it.

Life

I want to maintain my good grades, as well as embrace more opportunities for involvement at university and professional activities. I also would like to keep up with journaling as I have found this almost therapeutic and deeply helpful in staying in connection with myself.

Reading

My Goodreads goal will stay manageable at around 100 books because I don’t want to focus solely on quantity or numbers. I want to read some sequels in series I’ve already started. I also want to keep reading more non-fiction because this was an amazing goal from last year that I really enjoyed. I’ve started a new way of picking books to read that is awesome for me and I would like to stick to that.

Overall, I just want to keep working on the things I was working on last year. Life doesn’t end and begin again with each new year. We keep growing and changing all throughout life and this new year is just a divider between one stage and the next.

Here’s to focusing and drawing power from the amazing things in our lives, and to the happiness that lies in this new year.