Lately, I’ve been thinking about how my life would be different without this website. Besides the amazing people I’ve met through it, or the writing jobs I’ve gotten because of it, I wonder what – if anything – would be different if aubreysabala.com never existed. And, while on this train of thought, I’ve talked to a few of my friends and asked them this question:
Do you think my life would be easier if I didn’t have my website?
One response: Sometimes I think you cause yourself more pain than joy with your website.
Then, of course, I had to discuss and explain, which I’ll attempt to do here.
My friends – these are some of the closest, dearest people to me. They know me in & out, have lived with me over the years, even when I sincerely thought that buying a sweater in size XL at J. Crew was in fashion. They’ve lived through a ton of laughter, a ton of tears, and even a few amaretto sours before math class. And their sentiments are real, are kind, I honestly know without a doubt that they want the best for me, so when I see them questioning a part of my life, or my behaviour, I listen up. As I have been doing.
Their stance – that they don’t understand how, or why, I choose to be this honest, at least in a public forum. To them it would make more sense if I wrote these thoughts in a journal – online or otherwise – for only my eyes to see it. While I get where they’re coming from, I don’t agree…and that’s why I’m trying to figure out why I don’t.
I started this site in 2001 as a work project, something to do in some downtime. The style was much different, but the content has, for the most part, remained about the same. This was right around when blogs were getting big; I, being only on the cusp of techno-nerd-coolness, didn’t realize that my meager little site may one day fall under that moniker. To me, it was a place where I could highlight my writing as I was still struggling to get published…I needed a place to have a portfolio and a place to exercise my writing. So aubreysabala.com was created, and four years later, is what it is (whatever that is) today.
Through the years, it’s gotten a lot more personal. The articles – as I still call them – aren’t nearly as stand-alone as they once were; years back, I was able to submit many of them and publish them in various publications & magazines without much editing. They were about universal thoughts – guys and girls and observations about life, love, etc. As I still think they often are. However, as more people came to the site and the readership increased, it became more of its own entity, more of the “Aubrey has a website.” And, well, I suppose I do.
So, through the course of time, it logically also became something that people I was close to, including people I dated, knew about and even visited. And this, similar only to my parents in nature, is where it gets a little harried.
My friends think it’s a bit too personal at times, especially if they put themselves in the place of a date or a boyfriend or even an ex-boyfriend. And I understand – it might just be. But to me, it’s part of who I am, take it or leave it. As with most things about me, there’s rarely a gray area…it’s all or nothing. And yes, I know I could probably write this all with some password protection, guarding my inner-most feelings a little more closely, but that’s not who I am, not how I’ve chosen to do this.
There’s some catharsis that comes along with shedding all inhibitions, knowing that if anything, anywhere, in my life, I’m telling the truth here. And even though I know (in some cases) or assume (in others) that there are people reading this that I may not want to, or are here remaining in my life in a virtual sense after they’ve exited it in a physical sense (something that I’m still coming to terms with – it just doesn’t seem fair somehow that they can leave but still be here), I think it’s more important for me to continue on. I’m making that choice knowingly, willingly, understanding what I’m risking. It’s because part of what makes it real, for me, as a writer, is the very expression of it, painful or not, to the world, which I suppose includes those from days and months and years gone by who I’d otherwise wish farewell to but – given this forum – have no say on their presence on the site.
Also, I think the very process of learning discretionary writing is somehow important. Instead of blatantly saying “John Doe, you broke my heart, you know that, don’t you?”, I somehow, in some form, am coming to terms with it myself over the next weeks & months, and that sentence will end up somehow making sense in a very different wording. As with most things, expressing such public feelings and coming to terms with them take time, and by having to learn this discretion publically, in my writing, it’s like I’m easing into the acceptance of it all myself on my OWN time frame.
It’s a question of authenticity and free will. For instance, when I’m going through a hard time, I have a choice presented in front of me: I can either write about it now, albeit not naming names or specific situations, knowing that people involved may just wander over here to see how I’m handling it all, or otherwise choose to write something safe, something innocuous, somthing that has NOTHING to do with what’s really going on in my head. And the choice is different each time – sometimes I take the leap, put my heart on my sleeve as I’ve done so many times in the past, write authentically what I’m feeling; other times it’s still too soon, too close to me, and though it’s almost harder to keep it refrained, I choose the safe route, and in doing so feel myself heading down the path of blithe drabble that is as disposable as anything I’ve jotted down on a napkin.
Sometimes I wish I was a singer instead of a writer, at least to remove the immediacy. Their personal feelings get written one day but sung about days or months or years later when the pain has dulled and the very thing that made them cry is being spun on radio stations all over the country as a catchy refrain. And yes, I have the choice to write this now and display it later – I’ve done that many times. But it doesn’t feel the same to me, again I feel a sense of unauthenticity. So, for now, this is the method that I know to work. Tomorrow? It may change. But today? It’s what gets me through.
To quote Anna Nalick:
2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer
inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.
Use these words however you want to – that’s what there here for.
I, for one, love it.
And Anna Nalick, too.
you just said everything i’ve been thinking.
(from one website friend to another)
I’ve constantly thought about this as well (not to mention put that specific section of “Breathe (2 am)” on repeat for those lyrics), especially when I inadvertently discover that someone I know has been reading my blog. I’ve specifically asked people not to tell me they read it because I know I’d censor myself in some ways, something that demeans the very reason I love to write. At times I will change friends’ names to protect anonymity, but that’s all I don’t mind censoring. I hope your friends better understand your reasonings, as they make perfect sense to me.