Thursday, July 7, 2011

Insecurities and an Anniversary: Three Years Blogging and Writing from the Heart

So, I haven't been writing here much lately.  Actually, it's been a month since I wrote anything at all!  Part of that reason was the Summer Montreal Unschoolers Gathering (which was really wonderful.  I'd write a post about it except I didn't take any pictures, and just words seems like it would be boring...).  But most of the reasons I haven't been writing here lately are the same reasons I haven't been writing all that much in the last several months: writers block, not being able to find topics that really catch my fancy, trying to focus on things not related to computers...  And largely, not feeling able to talk about what I'm feeling on this blog.

I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. celebrated it's third birthday yesterday (though there wasn't much celebrating since I didn't realize until today that yesterday was the third anniversary of this blog!).  When I started writing it, I had a vague idea that I wanted to prove to both myself, and whatever rare reader stumbled across my blog, that unschoolers really do learn things all the time.  That unschooling really "works."  But as I grew more confident in unschooling, and as my writing/blogging skills improved, I started to focus less on my-unschooling-life-as-it-happens, and more on the philosophy of unschooling, using my life to illustrate the points I was trying to make.  I enjoyed (and still enjoy) writing that type of post.  Apparently, so do other people!  I started, as most blogs do, with virtually no readers (family doesn't count).  And now, three years later, just through Blogger's follower tracker (which only counts people who have a Blogger account and choose to follow this blog through their account) I have nearly 430 followers.  This blog's Facebook page has over 1,800 fans.  This blog has gotten big!  And through blogging, I'm speaking at a conference again this fall (possibly two, as I've been invited to a vague conference that may or may not be happening in Montreal, as well), am recognized by name at most education things I go to, and have been asked (though whether I say yes or not depends on a lot of things) for film, radio, article, and blog post interviews.

I was really excited for awhile about all that.  To a lesser extent, I still am!  But I've realized there's a huge downside.

Many people seem to look at me now as a Voice Of Unschooling, and I find myself thinking, did I do that?  I guess I did, though I didn't really realize what I was doing.  I like sharing my unschooling experiences,  so that's what I've been doing for the last three years, but I guess I just never knew it would get so big.

Because now I feel like there's a lot of pressure.  As a Voice Of Unschooling, not only am I expected to say smart things, and the things I say are often taken very seriously, but my voice is taken as speaking for all unschoolers.  Not always, of course, but it feels like it often enough to make me uncomfortable.  I don't speak for all unschoolers.  I just speak from the perspective of an Idzie!  And yes, my perspective is based on actual experience: it's valid, and thought out.  But it's still mine, not any one groups'.

So it's hard to write about what's really on my mind right now (or the things that have been on my mind since last fall, really), because the things that are are on my mind are both deeply personal, and I'm afraid would reflect badly on unschooling.

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: I don't think, especially right now, that my life is a good example of unschooling.  I feel like I've somehow put myself on this pedestal, with lots of people looking up at me, and I'm just going what?  How did this happen?  I'm not the person you think I am!!  I'm insecure, I deal with a lot of self-hatred, I'm not earning any money (did you hear that??  I'm 20 and I'm still living off of my parents!  Doesn't that make me a failure at life??), I really, really don't know what to do with myself...

And it would be different if this blog still had a smaller readership (not that I'm complaining: I still am proud of what I've accomplished in regards to this blog, and honored that so many people want to read it).  When fewer people read this blog, I knew that pretty much all of them were supportive.  But now?  I know I could get some comments that, in the state I've been in for much of the past months, I wouldn't be well equipped to handle.  And there's this huge pressure--knowing that people look to this site for information when writing articles on unschooling, or send the link to the disapproving grandparents--that they'll see my insecurities and failures, and go "oh, grown unschoolers are insecure failures!" (because you know that everyone blames unschooling).

Which is one of the main reasons I've been writing so little on this blog lately.  And it's also why this post had to be written.  Because to me, writing has always been about honest expression: I'm not happy unless what I'm writing feels genuine.  So, I am putting a few of my worries out there to be seen and possibly judged, because I want this blog, no matter how big it gets, to be an honest expression of what I'm thinking and feeling, in regards to education and my life in general.

But, I still don't think I'm going to be writing all that much in the coming days.  Please be patient as I sort out my life.
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