It’s been quiet around here lately.
When I started this blog, it was just a collection of random thoughts, a way to force myself to write something – anything – every week. At some point, it evolved into a living record of adventures and explorations. There was a big emphasis on cooking, elaborate recipes I wanted to make then photograph. When I wasn’t cooking, I was trying to travel, to explore new physical spaces. Occasionally, there were more reflective posts, about my feelings and fears, but they started to feel out of place to me. I deleted a few older, more introspective pieces. The image I was trying to project was one of boldness and curiosity.
This winter and spring, those adventures – even the small weekend getaways – have come to a grinding halt. Most weeks go by in a blur of small tasks and meetings. My goal isn’t innovation so much as routine. My mantra: small, simple things – done consistently over time – produce meaningful results. I felt like I had nothing to write about. My daily activities were neither bold nor curious.
I’ve tried to write a few times. But nothing really came out. I felt like there was something I needed to say for my benefit, but nothing that I needed to share with the world at large. Nothing that fit the image I was trying to project. Finally, I stopped to ask myself: For whose benefit am I creating this online persona?
My first answer, the practical answer, is for future employers. I’m not a lifestyle blogger. I have no desire to monetize this blog by promoting products. But I would like to go into a creative career someday. And, when I do, I want to sell my writing experience, including material from this blog. Shouldn’t it have some sort of cohesive theme and content standards?
Yes, because those things are true and it would be lovely to create and curate a portfolio with years of work.
No, because – however lovely such a thing would be – this blog is not my writing portfolio. I don’t have a portfolio. At some point, I will cull through the pages I’ve written and make one, just like I’ll probably make a professional photography portfolio to replace my goofy “learn how to code in HTML/CSS” assignment I threw up quickly.
Trying to force the one (this blog) to be the other (a portfolio) was a needlessly stressful and futile exercise. This blog is full of junk thoughts on random topics. This blog is just me, journaling out loud. This blog is not my personal/professional brand. I tried having a brand, with matching GitHub, Medium, and Twitter profile photos, and I hated it. It felt obnoxious. Phony. Arrogant. It felt like the opposite of what I wanted in my life.
It also felt painfully necessary in the current tech-oriented job market. It’s the kind of thing “you have to do to get noticed.” I haven’t figured out where I stand on this issue. Should I be putting out content specifically for the purpose of cultivating my personal brand, engineered to make people think certain things about me? Am I being naive when I neglect to cultivate this aspect of my professional life just because it feels inauthentic?
Maybe. Probably. Oh well.
As far as this blog is concerned, I’m cutting myself some slack. I’m letting go of the need to curate and socially engineer and project the right image, as if I knew what the “right image” was in the first place.
Here are the new rules:
- Do stuff, then write about it. (This doesn’t have to be epic-roadtrip-stuff. It can be cute-date-night-at-a-museum stuff.)
- Write often. (Follows naturally from the first.)
- Post original photos.
- Be honest and kind. (Not just on the blog, obviously.)
- Assume anyone and everyone can find this. (I’m not going to present this as my portfolio, but it’s still available on the internet. I’m only going to post content I’m happy to be associated with.)
TL;DR I’m not cool enough to pull off a well-crafted personal brand, and I’m done trying to shoehorn this existing blog into branded content, so this blog shall remain what it has always been: random thoughts.
Phew! That was a huge load off my mind. -A
PS. Here are a few photos I took this weekend at the butterfly conservatory in the Nature Museum in Chicago. I had to stalk the Common Morpho (big blue guy) for a few minutes to catch him with his wings open.