Thursday, February 13, 2014

Identity Crisis

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
--Wayne Dwyer
I love talking about the shit that makes me crazy—overblown writers, skinny women on premium cable, motorists who can't seem to figure out what to do with cyclists—but I also love talking about feelings and emotions, and it's sometimes jarring to toggle back and forth. Over the past nearly five (!!) years that I've been writing this blog, it's gone from being a clearinghouse of snark to something a more personal. To be honest, I'm having a hard time reconciling the two.

When I'm most in touch with myself, I become aware that writing is part of my skeletal structure: in a lot of ways, it's what holds me together. And writing this blog, with its teeny audience and never-changing layout, has been instrumental in transforming myself. I've gone from feeling like a fraud to feeling like a perfectly valid member of the creative society. I've used it to set goals and to follow through, which was incredibly valuable when I took on a long project like writing a novel. It was a balm when I hated my job, because it helped remind me that I was more than my 9-to-5 self. Plus it's always been fun. I love coming up with my next topic, with goofy turns of phrase, and terrible punny titles. A large part of me relishes the work of it all.

But in my earlier blog posts, I wanted to write about things, like pop culture and clothing fads and stuffed-shirt writer-types. Now I want to write about feelings, like love and fear and jealousy and gratitude. Or I want to talk about life, like family, goals, and friendships. And you know what? It's hard to combine that pithy, know-it-all voice with a more vulnerable, more questioning topic. I know it can be done (see: Lamott, Anne), but I'm slightly uncomfortable with the shift. I feel like I spent four years building up one kind of blog, only to realize maybe I was stuck in it. I hadn't given myself enough room to shift. I can't talk about hipsters forever. Nobody wants that.

So, what to do? I need to keep talking about feelings, because they feel a lot more important and pressing than the work I was doing on, say, skinny jeans. And I don't want to lose my voice—my self-aware, sarcastic, critical, brook-no-bullshit voice. But can I apply it to the "what does it all mean?" questions. I mean, is that allowed?

Because it a lot of ways, that would be the most honest thing to do: to take this blog and its voice—my blog, my voice—and start talking about the stuff that actually matters. But after treating every last goofy thing like it's the end of the world (let's now talk very seriously about the importance of really good gifts, you guys), to turn my attention more important stuff is like saying nothing that came before matters very much.

And it does. It matters to me. Or, you know, it did. I have hundreds of blog posts to prove it.

But it's also not who I am anymore, or at least not as much. I struggle with change, and this has been weighing on me for the last few months. I want to talk about the different ways I've changed in the last few years—going from steely to more vulnerable, from anxious to incrementally more relaxed. I trust more. I have deeper friendships. I have so much more gratitude. And all the judgment I've passed on all the things matters less in the face of this undeniable tidal wave of feelings.

I'm letting myself off the hook and going for more honesty. I'm switching. I'm not swearing off the snarky posts, but I am explaining why they've been fewer and farther between. I'm telling you why my voice has softened, even only slightly. I want to keep writing, and I want to keep engaging with all the stuff that makes my brain's just that that stuff has changed. It's bigger. It's weirder. And I like it.