As I prepare to set across the country on a new adventure, I have been reflecting on how much I have changed in the past five years since I moved to this city and started my residency. In some ways I have not changed much at all, but in other ways, I am unrecognizable.
If I was going to elaborate on every aspect of my personal growth, this might be a never-ending post. But, I guess you could go far back on this blog and read some of my posts from before I shout down this blog in 2015, and compare them with some of my posts since re-opening this year. I’m sad to say that my writing has become weaker and doesn’t flow as nicely as it used to when I blogged regularity. But that is a small sacrifice to make compared to what it means for my confidence and my personal strength to make the decision to re-open this blog.
If you need a the story of why this blog closed down, you can find it here. Back when I started this blog, it was a place for me to share stories about my life, past and present, in a safe and anonymous place. I received support from a circle of online friends who could identify with me in some ways, and other people who wanted to see where my life would take me. I was afraid, however, that the person I was on my blog was not allowed to be a person in real life.
That was so wrong of me. What I have learned now is that the person I am on this blog is the real me, and I have no reason to be afraid or ashamed of who I am. Yes, I have experienced (and continue to experience) difficult situations in my life. But who hasn’t? I feel better when I am able to connect with people over my experiences and I believe that opening up and sharing these difficult experiences is what leads us to a world of intimate connection with others. Unfortunately in the past, I was afraid to do this in my real life: I was ashamed of myself, I lacked confidence, and I worried that if people knew the “real me,” I would be criticized and shamed.
The sad thing is that back in 2015, I was forced (by myself and my circumstances) to close down this blog because this exact thing happened to me: People in my real life found out about my blog, they combed through it with a fine toothed comb to find anything they could to embarrass and humiliate me, and then broadcast it around as some sort of entertainment piece in my place of work. When I found out about it, I was bullied online but lied to in real life. But I was also in a position where I was afraid that I would get in trouble, be reprimanded, or targeted for just being me. And so I stopped it… and a piece of me went missing.
Since then I have slowly made progress in realizing that I am not ashamed of who I am and what I have to say. I was never wrong in what I did or what I said on my blog. And I wanted to take that part of me back.
When I reopened my blog this year, I was excited to rediscover a an important piece of myself. Simultaneously, I made the decision to share it with some of my (real life) friends and family who I knew would never judge me or shame me for being myself and opening up about my triumphs and struggles in life. I came back to this blog as a person who is proud of myself and what I have to say. I maintain the same level of anonymity on this blog, not out of fear or shame, but because it’s part of the character of my blog and it allows me to easily share relatable aspects of my life with people all over the world.
I love that my readership is growing again, and I appreciate all the comments (both public and private) that I receive from readers I know either in real life or virtually. I am discovering whole new levels of authenticity, comfort, vulnerability, and strength as I share the deepest parts of myself (all of it – the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful) with real people in my life. There are faces to the people who read my blog these days, and I am honoured that they come back to read what I have to write. And like before, I have always valued the support I’ve received from the readers who only know me as “the giraffe.”
Almost as important, though, is that I know some of those same people who criticized me, bullied me, and incited the events that led to me closing my blog are still reading it today… and I don’t care. I’m not afraid of their thoughts or what they might do with whatever I write here. I don’t care because I’m not afraid of what I share with the world and the important people in my life. The personal growth that I’ve experienced in the past few years has taught me that I have nothing to feel shame for, nothing to fear or hide or keep from other people. And while I honestly have no idea why these people are still reading my blog when their previous motivations were so sinister, I will take it as compliment… because obviously my life and my writing is interesting enough for them to invest their time into reading it! (And if that’s not the reason, I don’t really care to know why they choose to waste their time here).
I know it seems like I completely glossed over the whole “grateful” part of this post, but it’s actually been underlying the entire thing. I am SO grateful that I have experienced such an immense amount of personal growth in the years that I have been here. While there are many areas of my life where this can be seen, I believe that my attitude towards my blog, my intense desire to reopen it, and my desire to share it with the people in my life is one of the most stark illustrations of this growth. I am grateful that I have become a better person over the time that’s passed and I look forward to taking these areas of growth forward with me into the next part of my life.