Glutton for punishment

My hard drive is littered with fragments of abandoned Holidailies entries from past years. I never, ever finish; some years, I barely manage to get started before sputtering out. And yet, here I am once again, trying to update this journal at least a few times in December of each year. (I don't even bother aiming for every day--I mean, let's be real, here.)

Every year it seems to get harder for me to write about myself publicly online. Part of that is probably just online fatigue, since I spend a lot of my professional life talking about or engaging with various types of social media-type stuff. Like everything else, it's a lot less fun when you have to do it. Plus, there are just so many different directions to be pulled in: I have somehow ended up with four Twitter identities, and two Facebook accounts, two on FourSquare, three Flickrs, co-admin for a Facebook page and a group blog (which, I should say, I almost never contribute to)... and that's just the more mainstream stuff, and without even going into the several discussion forums that I read and at least occasionally contribute to. So it's hard to find the motivation to come online and natter on about myself even more.

Another issue is that my boundaries are getting tighter, as I mentioned in one of my scant handful of entries from last year. Between what I see as increasingly futile attempts to keep my professional and private life separate, and my discomfort with oversharing--which seems to be an unexpected consequence of being able to interact with people both online and in person, as opposed to when my "Internet friends" were all an ocean or more away, and no one I actually knew could be bothered to read my journal--it's hard not to feel a bit stifled. The things that are most on my mind or most important to me aren't subjects I feel okay with writing about here, and doesn't that defeat the central purpose of an online journal? It's a conundrum.

However, over the years I've come to realize that even when I was writing regularly, with the freedom of quasi-anonymity (even when I was using my real name, I had the illusion of privacy that came with being unknown and naive about the ways of the internets), I was still censoring myself a bit, engaging in an ongoing process of framing and subtle omissions. Not that I ever lied or deliberately misled anyone, but much of my journal used to be occupied with reinforcing the myths and stories I told myself about my life, and trying to respect both my privacy and that of people important to me. Reading it now is a very interesting exercise, since I can't help but reimagine a subtext that is often just slightly different from the actual text. Over time, those slight differences add up to a pretty significant shift in meaning to the whole project.

Or maybe I'm just retconning my whole life, to make it fit better with how I see the world today. Hard to say, really.

Anyway, once upon a time, when I first started this journal, my mother had recently died and one of my goals was to try to pull myself out of the pit of grief and depression into which I had fallen by trying to find something interesting or funny about my daily life. It was an attempt to ground myself, stop (at least momentarily) wallowing, and remind myself that no matter how sad I was, there was still a lot to appreciate. I have to admit that 2010 has been a tough year for me: lots of good things happened, but overall I'm ending the year in a state of emotional depletion. So I'm going to try to focus on finding one small thing every day that I think is worth writing about, rather than going into deep introspection (you're welcome) or trying to document my overall daily existence.

With any luck, keeping the focus light and relatively superficial will also make it easier for me to update. Sometimes I peter out because I create excessively high expectations for myself, pushing for carefully crafted essays dripping with Meaning and Significance, and maybe a bit of Poetry or at least Quirky Language. Way too much like work, in the end, so I keep putting it off indefinitely. Defeat comes easily when I set crazy standards. My latest philosophy is to keep expectations within the range of the mundane and the mediocre. (Hmm, I think I have a germ for a future entry...)

I'm going to try, anyway. I struggle with Holidailies every year because yes, I'm a glutton for punishment, but also because I really think there's some value in this process, and I miss it.