When Ashley was volunteering her writing talents to appear as a guest blogger, I couldn’t pass up the chance to host one of her brilliant posts. A while back, she made the bold decision to out herself as a blogger and I’ve asked her to share her thoughts about coming out of the blogging closet. Thanks for guest posting, Ashley!
My name is Ashley and I blog at Writing To Reach You. I’m here today because GFM asked me to write about how I feel now that I’ve ditched anonymity and outed myself as a blogger. It has been more than a year since I attached my full name to my blog, but I still feel like I’m getting used to it. I think because it will never not be weird that I write about my feelings all over the internet.
Anonymity is not something you typically have to explain to internet people, but when I first told them about my blog, there were a couple people in my real life who did not understand why I had kept it a secret for so long. Was I ashamed of my blog? Not really. It’s more that making yourself vulnerable is always scary. And I am not a person who normally wears her feelings on her sleeve, so attaching my full name to all of my thoughts meant opening a door that has always been closed except to a few people. That actually hasn’t changed much, so many people in my life learn more about me from reading my blog than from talking to me regularly.
I loved being anonymous. People always talk about how the internet lets you pretend to be whoever you want, but for me it was the place I was more myself than anywhere else. I hate to sound like a contestant on a reality show, but I did not come here to make friends. I didn’t know that making friends was part of blogging when I started. So I just wrote about myself as honestly as I could, and this weird thing happened where people started liking me for being me. I have been fighting my whole life for the feelings of authenticity that blogging gave me almost immediately.
When I decided after three years of blogging to leave anonymity behind, I told myself that I could take as long as I wanted to grow comfortable with it, but I could not stop writing the things that were important to me. I watched a lot of people grow more professional with their blogs and start using their full names only to slowly stop blogging, and I refused to do that. Writing personal essays is my career ambition, so I figured that now was as good a time as any to get used to having people read my most personal thoughts.
Anonymity had its limits, and after a while it grew boring to me. I try to remember that when I encounter the challenges of writing under my full name. It is such a normal part of life to be different things to different people, and the internet (even if you only use Facebook) really threatens that; sometimes it’s as petty as not being able to complain about someone from one part of your life to the people in another, because everyone has access to the same information. So I depend more on close relationships with friends to get frustrations like that off of my chest, instead of shouting them blindly into the twitter void. And when something is really bothering me that involves other people, I have to be thoughtful about how I write about it. But, I do write about it, because it’s my story and I want to share it. This is how I choose to live my life, so I accept the challenges.
I don’t miss being anonymous. I would never trade in those years I had as Ashley from California, because they were so important to my life and to my writing, but what I’m doing now is riskier and more interesting to me.