I got sick twice during the month of June, and not THAT kind of sick; they were colds from being so on the go for so long, my body was forcing me to take a break. Twice, apparently. The same thing happened at Christmas if you read my post a few months ago. It’s the body’s way of forcing you to stop. At Christmas, it happened because it was coming up to the end of the year and sometimes that’s just the time to shut down and switch off. In June, it happened because I’d been on the go constantly, travelling, studying, exploring a new country and not taking any full days for myself. My body was yelling at me to stop, and it did this in the form of making my throat very sore and my head very fuzzy. The second time, it gave me a fever and made my throat even worse. I guess my immune system is as weak as it can be after going so long without interacting with big groups of people.
When I get sick, I tend to introspective. I guess it’s that being alone with your thoughts, unable to concentrate on anything but trying to remember what it was like to breathe freely. Your attention span is short and the bed looks comfier than ever, so your mind wanders to what the point of life is and why you’re here on this earth, why you specifically exist and are the way you are, and why do colds wipe us out, making us wonder when sweet release might ever come?
It’s particularly difficult when you’re ill and so far from home comforts. Getting introspective when I would like nothing more than to be curled up on my sofa at home with some tomato soup watching the television is harder than usual. I can simulate some of that here, but it’s not quite the same, and so I lie in my bed watching YouTube, wondering at the complexities of life, wishing for soup but having to go out and buy lunch instead. It can make it even harder because, when I don’t have the right mindset to write, it makes my mind wander further because it doesn’t have that usual outlet of release, and it can wander very far indeed.
It wanders to my difficulties with social media, to what it means to have a blog, to the future and who I’m meant to be and who I am. The mind is very capable of finding inconsistencies, and when you’ve got nothing to do, you look up at the ceiling or watch mind-numbing content online because that’s all you can process, and your mind goes to those dark corners so you wonder at your sense of self, your weaknesses, what makes you tick and what could make you tick better.
For me, I always immediately go to social media. It is a useful tool, I couldn’t deny that even if I wanted to. It is such an advantageous tool for writing: it makes research the easiest it’s ever been, I can follow authors I adore so as to keep up to date with their projects and see when they’re next going on tour, and I can quadruple check that I’m spelling words correctly. For a writer, the internet is an inexplicably beneficial tool.
It can also be a very detrimental one. Thankfully, I don’t have much of a problem with procrastination, but I know some writers find the endless possibility of scrolling a tempting option when they should be working on manuscripts. For me, though, I find social media a cruel and wicked beast because of that very easy path of comparison. All those numbers, the hits, the likes, the retweets, the views, the comments, it was designed to make people feel inadequate. Well, perhaps not designed that way, but it’s certainly evolved into that. It can build your self-esteem and it can drain it. I don’t necessarily consider myself a self-conscious person, but it’s very easy to be drawn into that state of mind because of this ability to compare; to compare your posts to someone else’s, your picture quality to another’s, your own life compared to whoever you’re viewing online.
When I get introspective and I see all these flaws and the way social media can drag me down into someone I don’t particularly want to be, I just want to delete it all and move into the woods. I can find other ways to keep up to date with authors, and you don’t need social media to search up the meanings of words. I can’t explain how often I get close to deleting it all, stepping away from this social age we live in, and herding sheep in the mountains. It’s difficult to compare your life to a sheep’s and feel envy and inadequacy.
My thoughts then lead to this blog, another form of being social. I don’t particularly consider myself a blogger, it’s an entirely different form of writing than I’m used to, than what I’ve aspired to. Being a successful blogger isn’t my dream, and whilst I enjoy updating my progress and I’m excited to see what this blog can become a few years down the line after I get some published manuscripts behind me, I never want blogging to take precedence. This blog is great for making sure I find something to write about, it gives me a schedule, it gives me something to work on each month, it’s a positive sort of pressure that keeps pushing me, which is what you want as an author.
I also find it hard sometimes because I’ve never been some who posts about myself, I don’t enjoy sharing my life online, I’m a very private person. And perhaps you think that’s contradictory because I’m blogging and I’ve shared details of my life here but, overall, I still like to keep a lot of details to myself. I like that anonymity, that’s one of the true joys of the internet. But how do I know what’s too much to share and what’s not enough, how do I know what people find interesting and what people find loathsomely boring, how do I keep this blog for myself, but also for others? And wouldn’t these questions all be a lot easier if I just deleted it and didn’t have these questions to begin with?
Being introspective is hard, especially when it leads you to these thoughts about how to improve your life that also have their downsides. It can become almost a spiral where, because you’re feeling sick, your mind conjures these grievances you have with life that make you feel worse. Being introspective doesn’t always have to be this negative thing, it can often be a positive thing because it gets you thinking and it can genuinely make you see things that you can improve. It does, however, also have an uglier side.
But is life as serious as our introspective minds make it out to be? No, not really. It’s easy to listen to your introspective mind to tell you what to do, where to go, delete all your social medias, stop writing a blog, find something else to do, don’t seek happiness when it takes work to get there. It can be hard to come back from it and ignore some of those unhelpful introspective thoughts, but it’s important to know that, when you’re feeling introspective, being objective is also important.
Is there also some value to be found in some of those thoughts? That can be true too. I do enjoy being further away from social media than when I’m on it, and I don’t want this blog to become a chore, I want it to be a place of expressing my thoughts whilst exploring other ways of writing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life really is all about balances and once again it’s about finding the balance between what you can find that’s useful in those introspective thoughts and what is entirely unhelpful and needs to be acknowledged and then left behind.
So, how do you be introspective but also objective? It feels quite contradictory, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. I can be introspective and see that I don’t enjoy all the facets of social media, but I must also be objective and see that there are benefits. So I must decide rationally what it is I can reap from social media and what I want to leave behind so as to cater my social media experience for me specifically and for my needs. It’s an addicting tool and so I must be the one to find my balances with it.
In terms of this blog, I must see that the negatives of having to share parts of my life alongside the difficulty of not always knowing what to post can be outweighed by this exploration of writing in a new way. It’s also really important to remember, when I’m feeling introspective and deciding to delete it all because I might be feeling inadequate about certain aspects of blogging, that everyone must start somewhere. In thirty years, I will look back and hopefully be humbled and grateful for the work I put into this blog. It’s a wonderful tool to keep a note of my progress, and looking at where other people have started and where they are now should be the inspiration I need to keep going. My introspection might tell me there are other ways to get to the same path of authorship, but I shouldn’t let this deter me. I should always weigh the negatives against the positives and never make the decision to delete anything when I’m not feeling well.
Then, when it comes to getting introspective about my future, I simply need to acknowledge that yes, I have not chosen the most facile path, but I have chosen the one that I want, the one that will bring me joy. Every step along the way will not be easy, and hurdles will arrive, but I need only learn how to jump. Introspection can cause doubts, and there is value to working through where those doubts come from, finding ways to overcome them and push past them, but doubts should not stop you altogether.
Be introspective, find value in those thoughts your mind can conjure, but at the same time, don’t only be introspective when you’re sick and you think the world’s never going to be good again because your nose is blocked. There’s value to introspection, but take it with a pinch of salt. And don’t make rash decisions when you’re sick. Your mind’s its foggiest when you’re unwell and you want to make sure to find a way to sift through the fog and find the objectivity that is so important when it comes to life’s decision.