One part of me:

Wants to hide. Hang out in real life with flesh and bone friends and family. Not document my most glorious or hilarious waking moments as they unfold. The internet is bloated with unapologetic self-serving users—for business or personal reasons—letting us know what’s going on in their lives. What they’re doing for health and fitness. Where they’re vacationing. What songs and movies rock their worlds. Which candidates they support.

I am one of them.

It’s the human way nowadays, to live in constant self-conscious documentation mode. You know what I do for exercise, what I eat, where I work, who my kids are, what my bedroom looks like. We brand and bind ourselves in binary code for better or for worse. We make virtual friends and enemies. Invite judgment and criticism whether spoken or silent. We value ourselves on the basis of how many followers, comments, likes and little red hearts we receive. It’s nerve-wracking. I hate it.

And I totally do it.

But maybe not enough.


Another part of me:

Wants the little red hearts. As many as that really successful so-and-so with her 32k followers. And I feel guilty for wanting accolades. And anxious about not documenting more. For not blogging at least once a week. For not instagramming and facebooking multiple times a day the most inspiring and educational tidbits. I am a fitness professional after all. And fitness professionals walk a very fucking public walk, if you pay attention to that sort of thing.

Not only that, I’m a novelist too, with books for sale on Amazon. Why aren’t I constantly tweeting the cleverest, most poignant and brilliant things? According to the business professionals in my industry, I need to be Out There. I need a following. Fans, five-star reviews. And lots of them. Otherwise who the fuck am I? What do I matter? Not one whit.

I’ve always felt paralytically claustrophobic in the headlights of grand Shoulds. My impulse is to run the other way. I’ve already blogged my childrens’ babyhoods. Been there. I’ve written a dozen incredibly personal essays, most of which are published here and there online. Done that. My latest novel was a vulnerable foray that my mother calls, “so brave, honey.”

Bryan thinks that I really should blog once a week. That it’s something people enjoy—maybe more people than I know. He believes my voice is valuable, even within the virtual floodstorm of voices out there. And I agree with that husband of mine. He’s got his head on straight. Sees through the bullshit and encourages me to cut it like a knife.

But I’ve always been a bit of a self-sabateur. I don’t need to venture outside myself to feel undermined. I do it to myself. At the risk of throwing myself into a fit of despair, I’m not going to provide examples. And even though my dad, for one, thinks I have some sort of compulsion disorder regarding my over-sharing, I also have a compulsion to not share. Because every time I do share, it’s bleed-on-the-page personal. And I regret it until someone comes along and says thank you for saying what I think. It eases my loneliness. And in that, there’s empowerment. Self-saving.

Staying silent, for me, is a little bit crippling. A little bit self-harming. Self-damning.

So I share for my mental well-being. And because I get tired of the bullshit—the self-aggrandizing hubris that alienates people instead of galvanizing them. And I do it to connect the lonely red dots across the world map. And to collect little red hearts. Because I am shallow and needy too.

And I don’t do it. I don’t share in order to enjoy the comfort and safety of anonymity, and swim in a void of non-judgment. To spread my arms in a soundproof bubble where I don’t have to even try, where what I do doesn’t matter.

Because it doesn’t. In a way.

And yet it does.