This post comes in the wake of reading Lisa@notesfromafrica’s post “Gathering your own tribe”.
This is what comes to my mind as I ponder this topic.
It basically boils down to the age-old quandary of “quality vs quantity” and what each of us would hope to achieve via our blogging. Who do we want to reach and how many of you do we appeal to (if any)? Do we set out to write about something that is commercial or something that is personal and/or a bit quirky? Do we obsess over stats, or prefer to interact with a few like-minded individuals? Or do we just blog because we have a voice, no matter how small – and in this day and age (or is it just because I have reached a certain age?) we actually get a platform to share our views and experiences without it negatively impacting on anyone in particular?
I only mention this last point because it appeared to me during my school and undergraduate years at university that pressure of competition amongst peers didn’t always bring out the best in people. Having a difference of opinion was apparently not the done thing. Carrying on with your life and not pandering to your classmates was also apparently not de rigueur.. Ah well, you can’t win them all.
It’s odd, when I think about it, why it is that I am really beginning to enjoy blogging. I hated English at school. I preferred geography (physical geography – not the human stuff!) biology, physics and maths and eventually went on to study Geology. I even completed a research Masters Degree in geochemistry. This still surprises me, 12 years later on. I hated chemistry at school as much as I disliked English. Go figure. If that isn’t a lesson to anyone about how you can succeed in areas that you previously thought were out of your reach, then I don’t know what is.
English is my first language, sure – but I was not a great English student. I never studied “English literature” or “English Language” as some of my school buddies did. I dropped it at school at the first available opportunity. It wasn’t as though I failed any of the end of year exams, but I certainly didn’t ace them. I dreaded the homework assignments. My strongest point in English was my spelling (Yay!). However, I don’t have the imagination for storytelling and I would easily miss any number of salient points in the enforced book reviews. Yet, here I am, blogging. More than that, here I am enjoying blogging.
Has it something to do with the fact that I can do this for my own enjoyment? Most likely. Blogging, at my level at any rate, lacks the pressure of being graded. There are no exams to sit, no tests to pass. I can choose my own topics. I don’t have to make anything up. If I see it and experience it, I can write about it. Bonus of all bonuses – nobody actually has to read it either! Use it, don’t use it – it doesn’t really matter!
So what has blogging done for me that makes me want to write a post about it in particular?
Well, up until recently, my main focus in life was work. It isn’t as though I am a career girl per se. I don’t need to reach the top. I don’t need to break any glass ceilings either. I did, however, need to fit in and find my place. Prove myself, as it were, in this still male dominated industry and at the very least be taken seriously in my chosen profession. I also needed a few pennies in the pocket to pay my way through life.
This year marks our 20 year school reunion. (I am not sure that I’ll make it and get the chance to catch up with everyone in person. Thankfully, Facebook is around and it has brought many of us back together again, in just the right dose.. no more – no less.) That means I have either been studying and or working in the field of Geology for 20 years. This comes as a slight shock to me. It’s a realisation of just how much time has flown by – and then it makes me wonder what else I have actually done in this time.
Travel, yes - I do get to do that a lot. It was one of the reasons for choosing to study Geology in the first place. The theory behind this was that you get paid to travel. Cha-ching! This appeals to my Scottish-ness, greatly. Otherwise…what else have I done? Can I even remember what I did and where I did it? I took photographs as my only form of souvenirs. I was too skint, nay stingy, to buy trashy mementos, which is just as well – they’d all have made it to the rubbish bin by now anyway.
After 20 years of taking photographs, I am only now taking the time to learn how to take a better photograph – and suddenly things look very different. I stopped writing diaries during my angsty teenage years – after my mum snooped on a few unflattering entries (oops – sorry mum) and it never occurred to me to start writing a journal or diary since. I think that not writing anything down and only snapping a few shots here and there, as opposed to taking well composed photographs, has somehow disadvantaged me from the full experiences that were there for the taking – and I missed them. “Time waits for no man” (nor woman) and although I realise that I haven’t maximised the potential from all the past experiences in my life, there is certainly no reason not to try and maximise every possible future experience.
Blogging has helped me realise this. It is like a journal, whether or not that was the original intention. Although I started out my blog in order to force myself into cleaning up a few old and tatty photographs and piece together all the places that I have had the extraordinary luck to visit, it has also managed to nudge me awake – as though I have been in some “sleep-living” foggy state for the past 20 years – if not longer.
So, if I had to choose quantity over quality in terms of my potential blogging audience, I would probably decline the offer. My only real goal is to become a better version of myself, to be more aware, to sit up and take notice of what is going on around me. If I happen to make friendships along the way, then I consider that to be a great improvement to my otherwise social awkwardness!