free to be

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Sometimes there’s a lot to say. And sometimes there isn’t. I find myself cycling through phases. The talkative, writing, word-spewing phase is full of analyzing, pondering, and reflecting. I’ve always felt that self-reflection is an integral part of being a creative person – heck, any kind of person – but a creative person especially. Writing is always a reliable reflecting pool. You write, and occasionally, you see your soul revealed on the page. It’s a good habit, writing. I’d like to do it more. But sometimes, for me, there are silent phases. Mostly, those phases are just about doing. No talking, no writing, just doing. Planning, working, growing, changing, but above all, doing. I’ve been there lately. The words ran dry for a while.

That’s ok.

They always come back.

I find the Facebook / Blog balance a difficult one, and I’m sure many artists who inhabit both spaces struggle in the same way. Sometimes you have a long-winded thing that is clearly blog territory, but most days you think of a little tidbit to share on Facebook as you go about your day, you post it, and you carry on. You could say more, maybe, but it’s so easy to just post and run. The problem, I find, is that by the time you’ve done a week of Facebook updates, the well has run dry. A blog post is the last thing on your mind.

I feel a little sad sometimes that artists have mostly moved over to sharing their stuff on Facebook instead of on their blogs. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Facebook – for the ease of communication, the wonderful connections I’ve made with bead lovers, friends, far-away family, and other makers. It’s also been a wonderful, friendly, super easy place to sell beads. The thing is, I find that you see a different side of someone on their blog. Facebook isn’t the place for sharing your struggles, your doubts, your insecurities, your vulnerabilities. Nobody likes a sadsack beadmaker/artist/jewelry designer. Mostly, people come to see pretty photos of your work, to gain a little insight into what you do, and maybe read your incredibly inspiring thoughts (ha!).

But how do we connect with each other? I mean, really connect? We find ourselves in others’ stories. We take comfort and solace in knowing that other people survive the things we go through too. It’s reassuring. It means that we’re normal, we’re human. Those struggles, those challenges, that IS life. Real life. Nobody’s life is always shiny and happy and filled with tropical vacations. But on Facebook we all try to be the best, most photogenic, entertaining versions of ourselves. And that’s why I feel much more comfortable leaving the rough edges exposed on my blog. It’s my own little place. A place where people actively come to seek me out, to find out what kind of person I am, to read what I have to say. It’s a place where I can bare my soul and not worry that someone is going to ‘Unlike’ me for it.

Being ‘unliked’ is a phenomenon that I’m somewhat familiar with… I mean, in Grade school I was bullied… When I was a teacher, some disgruntled student wrote ‘BITCH’ in big, bold scrawly letters on my mailbox in the hallway. But before I started my Uglibeads Facebook page, I’d never been exposed to the idea of being ‘Unliked’ in such a literal and graphic sense.

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yes, I can chart my ‘Unlikes’ on a graph.

On a Facebook business page, you can see how many ‘Likes’ the page has. And whenever I’m on my own page, so can I. I see the number so often, I know when it goes up. Or horror of horrors, DOWN. Which means that someone has ‘Unliked’ my page. They actually visited my page for the express purpose of unliking it. How’s that for an ego boost? I know, I know! There are so many reasons why people ‘Unlike’ pages, and really, it is 100% ridiculous to take it personally. But when you put a little bit of yourself into everything you do, it does sting. It is, after all, a teeny, tiny, anonymous rejection. Sometimes, despite my best efforts to focus on the positive, when I see that someone has Unliked my page, I have one of those miserable days filled with self-doubt. Artists really are the absolute best at crippling self-doubt. That little voice inside keeps repeating, “You must have done something wrong! What did you do wrong?” It’s the same nauseating carnival ride every time –

self-doubt…
self-criticism….
self-pity…
self-soothing…

I suppose the key is that the end of the cycle is always, once again, self-respect.

I think it’s healthy to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you’re happy with what you put out there into the world. But second-guessing never led anyone to a good creative place. It stops the flow, closes you off, puts up little walls around the most interesting parts of who you are.

On the ‘Unlike’ days, I always end up thinking the same thing: I can’t be anything other than myself. And really, truly, I want to be surrounded with people who ‘get’ me, who understand me, who ‘Like’ me, just the way I am.

Yeah.

Don’t we all?

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12 thoughts on “free to be

  1. I have signed up for a lot of quilting blogs in the past. But now I am enjoying the beading blogs more. Which means I am now unliking quilting blogs. For sure it is only because at first I thought I liked the style of quilting they do but as my style and interest changes, I find I have so many blogs that I have to thin down to the ones that are the most pertinent to what I am doing right now. So please don’t take it personally.

    • No, that’s absolutely true, Susan! People’s tastes change. Mine too. And we only have so much time in a day to follow what other people are doing. I am guilty of ‘Unliking’ pages on Facebook, for sure! Sometimes when a suggested page comes up in my feed I ‘Like’ it because I think it might be something I’m interested in, and then when I see a few posts I realize it’s not really my thing. Now I just unfollow instead of unlike – that way the artist doesn’t see that I’m gone. I think when you’re putting yourself out there on the internet it’s important not to be too sensitive – as you say, people come and go, and it REALLY is nothing personal.

  2. I think you have hit the nail on the head there Julie,we are such “sensitive souls” lol,when I see that little pink dip,Oooo I feel just the same!!

  3. Julie, this posting was so insightful and on point. What you say about Facebook and putting on your best self is so true. A forum like this allows you to get more personal and for people to learn more about you. I hope to come here to read more of your blogs in the future. 🙂

    • Thank you Alicia! I think we kind of ‘settle’ for Facebook sometimes because it’s the best way we have to keep in touch and to find out more about people, but sometimes it would be nice to find out more! I’m often tempted to send friends a message asking them how they are, REALLY. I love keeping up to date on all the (admittedly superficial) day to day things, but I miss those deeper connections too. In any case, I’m happy to have you here!! 🙂

  4. Have really missed seeing your latest beads and reading your blogs. Do you remember my occasional comments about your writing ability? It would appear that others have noticed as well! Can you see my big smile? Looking forward to the next and the next and the next . . .

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