Can’t pay a bill with it but authenticity still rocks!

Yesterday was a reminder of the sheer joy that I receive from blogging and sharing my life online. In this era of bloggers as businesses, I think it’s too easy to lose sight of the simple joys that can come to those of us who work more in the personal memoir style of blogging. I think until yesterday I was still feeling pretty discouraged and oh so close to saying good bye because I momentarily lost sight of what my original goals were for this space…to use my voice and to make connections. Sure money is great, hell I work in social services, I don’t exactly have a large stash of cash!

I met up with two of my readers for brunch, and ended up hanging out for hours. Reader one is a relative newcomer to Maine, who has big plans and I am looking forward to seeing her grow and showcase a side of Maine that people rarely see. So stay tuned!  Reader two is a designer who actually advertises in this humble space and while not a blogger, I am hoping I might get her to throw her hat into the ring.

It’s always interesting meeting up with people who know a lot about you, yet you know little about them. I am happy to say though that to date; I have only met one local reader that registered on my creep o meter. Instead everyone I have met is someone who I could easily see myself sharing coffee or a meal with and that says a lot. I admit I am always nervous meeting people who are readers, outside of wondering will they be creepy, I often wonder will I measure up to their expectations though generally once conversation starts such thoughts go out the window.

The thing is I strive to be authentically me, no matter what. In the end if a connection is not made, it’s because sometimes people don’t connect but not because I stopped being me. Hell, if anything me offline is a lot more me than what readers see in this space.

It’s so important to be our authentic selves, even online. How can I trust you to recommend a product when I don’t even know who you are? I know that there are many “formulas” for online success and sure certain techniques may work for a time, but if you bring anything less than your authentic self how do you gain trust? How do you keep that trust? With so many bloggers coming off their post BlogHer12 high, I have seen a slew of writing run across my twitter feed that frankly reads like a cheap advertisement. In this world one of the few things that those of us who play with words has, is our words and we best be wise and discerning in how we use them. Once you lose authenticity, the trust is gone. Sure you may still get the “hits” or numbers but will they trust you when you hawk a product or when you start filling your space with empty words because you “need” to get the numbers? Most likely not.

So while money is pretty much king in this world, for those who deal in words, maintaining truth and authenticity is even better.

PS: If you are thinking haven’t you heard this before to some degree, remember sometimes I use this space as a public journal and yeah, I might even repeat myself, it’s my prerogative as Bobby Brown once said!

None if this seems real to me…

Today I had lunch with a dear friend and was reminded of what is real; sometimes we get so busy living life that we get caught up in all the “stuff” that even for someone who strives to be mindful, it’s easy to lose sight of what is real. While catching up, my friend shared how she has basically given up her online life and how good that feels, you would have to know my friend to understand what a huge statement that was. Like me she is someone who has been online for years, in fact she started blogging back in the late 1990’s and being online was just a part of her life. Instead she is finding joy in life offline and by the looks of it doing quite well.

I was just reflecting on our meeting today when I think I realized why I have been dancing around the idea of saying good bye to this space. It no longer feels real to me, oh, I am very real. The me that writes these words and rants on twitter is the same me that meets with foundation heads and bank vice presidents to raise money to serve families in need. The me in this space is the same messy me that the Spousal Unit has lived with for 15 years, I no longer compartmentalize myself, I am simply me.  I will adjust myself up or down depending on my surroundings much like we turn up the volume on the radio but the station stays the same. The greatest gift of approaching middle age is I accept me in all my messy glory and carry it with me wherever I go, even when I fuck up and trust me I do fuck up.

The problem is that no longer do I feel in my online life am I surrounded by other real people, when I first discovered blogs, I felt I met real people. 10 years ago online I stumbled across a group of women who to this day I care deeply about, but gone are those days. Oh, there are a handful of readers of this space and folks in spaces such as twitter who I think are as real as I am. By and large though most online folks I encounter I feel they are caricatures of people who are attempting to work their brand, they only wear their public face and that face is one of perfection or carefully calculated imperfection.  There is not a thing wrong with that but it’s not where I am in my life nor what I wish to be around.

The work I do professionally is draining and as the economic crisis worsens in this country, the pain and misery I now see on a daily basis is hard to swallow. How do I reconcile seeing children with no shoes, giving a child extra food to eat at home because his parents food stamps have ran out and he doesn’t have enough to eat yet being part of something where there is such excess that for the simple task of leaving a comment on a blog, I can win something? How do I overcome the offers that flood my in-box for free useless gadgets or samples yet know that in my real world there are 10 kids sleeping on the floor of an apartment in a bedbug infested building? The excesses of online life simply don’t jive with my offline world. I am almost a year out of bankruptcy and while my financial life is starting to turn around, it’s a slow process. Living life online reminds me of my own scarcity and if I am not on top of it creates the types of feelings and thoughts that frankly I don’t need.

So much like my dear friend, I find myself wondering about saying good bye to it all, yet the writer in me loves the freedom that spaces such as mine offer. I started journaling by hand again and while it’s been wonderful and incredibly freeing, I admit blogging has its joys too. If only I could shut out all the voices that don’t seem real, yet that’s not how life operates instead we have to take everything, and make it work somehow.