Quieting down (or keeping some things private)

Marina’s cuteness on the other hand will always be shared online.

First off, I ran 10 miles this past week. Dorothy Beal of the Mile Posts blog once wrote (or tweeted? Either way this is paraphrased) that when she doesn’t run, she doesn’t feel like starting back up. But when she does run, she wants to run all the time.

This past week has confirmed this is true for me as well. I’m not letting myself go zero to one hundred, in spite of what my Mountain Dew-Pop Rocks energy levels and toddler brain keep trying to pressure me into doing. But I’ve ran three days this week – three miles on Tuesday, four on Wednesday after work, three on Thursday- and with each session I feel stronger than I did in the one before it. This week has just been awesome.

With running comes time for my brain to wander and think about topics for the blog. For the longest time I considered myself an open book, and to a point I still am with people I’m close to or feel comfortable with. Blogging is a part of my life and something I enjoy doing for a few reasons. During good times it’s fun to share what’s going on and connect with people. During challenging times, writing has always been my way of 1.) processing whatever I’m dealing with and 2.) hopefully channeling the revelations I come to into serving a positive purpose. In other words, if me telling the Internet about my breakup last year or writing about grieving my grandfather can help someone else process what they’re going through, offer a different perspective and ultimately help them feel not so alone, then I would share away.

However, I’m feeling the effects of my age kick in.

In my 20s I could filet myself open, share embarrassing anecdotes that I thought were funny (and honestly I still think are funny, albeit wildly inappropriate for most of the social situations I’m in) or tell strangers exactly how I’m doing whenever they asked. In all fairness, I think that’s a typical side effect of youth – a mix of wanting to share and relate to peers, and generally not having a refined filter yet. So I’m not going to look back on Teenage or Twenty-something Allison and beat her up.

But I’m 30. I’m watching folks my own age who never developed a filter, or who are adamant they are going to express an opinion no matter what, and can’t help thinking to myself, Do you not have anyone in your life who’s willing to pull you aside? Let’s be real here – some things just don’t look better as you get older, a lack of tact being one of them.

I’ve also fallen down the rabbit hole that is JoeyBToonz’ YouTube channel. He offers commentary on Internet/social media trends, and I’ve found myself watching the “Narcissists and #Social Media” series. Joey’s a hoot, which is the only reason I can keep watching. The TikToks he finds and the people making them … I know I have no room to criticize 20-somethings when I was young once. However, I’m genuinely amazed the private, humiliating, or just plain stupid stuff people will post about themselves. Or the fights they’ll pick, and then wonder why they have high blood pressure.

So this prompted me to think about which topics in my own life I wouldn’t share online, what my own boundaries are for privacy/nobody’s business. So my reader-friends, for everything I will share online, here’s what I won’t share at all, or if I’ve shared in the past, you won’t be reading about again.

1.) Blow-by-blow accounts of mental health struggles

Do you all remember last month I mentioned I would or might write a post after a month of being on Wellbutrin? After that post someone close to me in real life shared honestly that they were surprised I had put that much online. This is one of the two people whose opinion matters, so I sat on what they said and thought about it. Ultimately, I decided that the most I would ever share about my mental health going forward is going to be limited to two things. 1.) Wellbutrin has been a life-saver and I’m still doing great with it, and 2.) If you’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked, you owe it to yourself to call a doctor and get help. Nobody needs to suffer like that.

Frank talks about mental health can be beneficial, and I have no issue with anyone one sharing their own journeys. However, I’ve really been noticing on social media that there’s a lot of folks who adopt their struggles as an identity and wear it like a badge on honor for Instagram or TikTok. It’s weird to me, seeing someone talk about a serious mental crisis while dancing around and pointing to little captions, or lip-synching to – well, I don’t get the lip-synching no matter what the topic is.

This may make me sound like a jerk, but I’m going to say it – I don’t want to ever be or come across as someone who wears mental health challenges like they’re substitutes for a personality. I’ve dealt with episodic depression – however, I don’t and won’t call myself depressed, like it’s an inevitable part of me such as eye color or ethnicity. My condition is something I’m managing, but it’s not me, and it will never be me now that I know what the other side looks like. So mental health talk is going to be limited going forward, for the sake of not taking my blog from being transparent for the sake of helping someone else to excessive self-pitying. People may feel sympathetic and empathetic, but no one ones to read about Eeyore’s first world problems all the time either.

2.) Religious/social/political opinions

Avoiding political and social opinions – discussing mine or allowing myself to get drug into a debate I never consented to – is kind of a no-brainer. For starters, there’s enough division in U.S. society and online as is. I see no need to contribute to that, and want my little corner to be a positive experience for everyone. Additionally, I can’t help thinking of that saying “Opinions are like armpits – everyone has them and they all stink.”

Religious talk is a bit trickier, only because over the past two years, my own faith walk has pretty much fallen by the wayside. In my 20s I did regularly attend church and pray, and back then I would have been more willing to share my faith because it was important to me and I genuinely wanted to. Candidly, while I do still believe in God and know that can never change, I haven’t felt like I could refer to myself as a Christian or a Methodist for a long time. There’s a chance I could return to faith, and there’s also a chance I may not. I have no desire to put a strong opinion for one way or the other out there since I don’t know which path I’ll ultimately walk down. And quite frankly, I think the people with Very Strong Opinions on religion who won’t stop talking about them (either for or against) are kinda weird and make awkward dinner guests. I’d rather not be That Woman for either side, or have coworkers try to avoid me.

3.) Dating/Marriage/Parenthood

This one is actually a toughie. I’ve written previously about my break up last year, since he was the only boyfriend and that was my first time going through heartbreak. No regrets there, and for the longest time I’ve debated if I even wanted to discuss my relationship status online. A part of me leaned towards “sure, why not?” It’s my life, there’s no shame in it, and who knows, maybe my life as a happily spinstered cat mom could serve as inspiration to someone else who’s single and struggling with it that they’re not doomed to be miserable just because they haven’t got a spouse, partner or children on the timeline they thought they would (or somebody else told them they should.)

However, it’s going to be a long time, if ever, before I write about marital and parental status because quite frankly – it’s not that deep and I just don’t give a damn. All I’m going to say is that my offline life, in spite of the challenges of the past year mourning my grandfather, is peaceful and purposeful again. My home is happy, and the cat I mentioned earlier is fast asleep under the pink Christmas tree. If there’s a significant life change and I want to share the news with you all, I will. But in the meantime, I’d much rather go out and live my life instead of talk and write and talk and write some more about why I’m not married or why I never had kids. Those posts are dimes a dozen online and on social media. I’m trying to be a little unique here, and make your reading worthwhile.

The take away

I still love sharing with people and blogging, but as I’m getting older, I’m also finding I want to keep certain parts of myself to myself. Privacy is becoming a bigger deal to me with each passing year, partially because I’m finding that the folks who generally want to know that much personal information rarely have good intentions once they receive it (self-protection), but also, privacy seems to be disappearing and sadly with it – some semblance of dignity.

I made a reference to the 20-somethings on TikTok earlier, not because I think they’re awful people or true narcissists, but because there’s a whole generation coming up that hasn’t known what it’s like to not have every thought or feeling broadcast all the time. Thank God social media didn’t exist for my parents’ generation to be putting all sorts of personal, embarrassing business out there while we were trying to navigate growing up. We had privacy and to a point anonymity to figure ourselves out. But the generation coming up after me, who have their lives put out there while they’re still in utero, every detail going out to a network of people they’ve never even met, and then ultimately have the pressure to get online and exploit themselves for relatability or 15 minutes of fame? I really can’t blame any of them. No offense to you young bucks, but I will always be grateful I’m a 90s kid who grew up when they still had house phones and the only way your mom’s friends knew some embarrassing story would be if your mom actually told them in person.

So Reader-friends, I love you all. I also love myself to start deeming some topics private, and I want all of us to enjoy content, peaceful lives with healthy boundaries and healing from whatever has harmed us in the past.

Yours in running and life,

Allison

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