Blogging

where the hell have you been?!

That, my darling reader, is a damn good question.

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It’s been just shy of six whole months since I last posted on this thoroughly neglected blog.

Look, I didn’t intend to go for so long without writing. I promise I didn’t. It just… happened.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s taken so long to get back to the keyboard.

It wasn’t because I was busy and it wasn’t because I was tired. (more…)

an open letter of sorts.

It doesn’t take that much neglect for things to quickly deteriorate, does it? I’ve learnt that the hard way. Multiple times. (Which would suggest that I didn’t learn it in the first place…)

Something that I do know is that I don’t want this little rascal of a passion project to end up on that list too. So, with that in mind, please excuse me for a minute or four; I have a little note to write on the back of a piece of scrap paper.

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To my darling blog,

The past month of my life has been… unique. (Yes, that was deliberately diplomatic.) Although it has been quite emotionally draining, its being so has been a good thing, for it is hard to progress without change, n’est-ce pas? (more…)

secret diary.

The confessions of an over-sharer…
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This bears far too much resemblance to my childhood diary for my liking. Yes, I was a 90s baby. (Image: Justice)

Confessional: I have very rarely been a dedicated diary-writer.

Whenever I did write in my Secret Diary as a kid (which was covered in blue sequin material, thank you very much) I was sure to make my entries original. “Ohmygosh, I like this boy!”, “Ohmygosh, it’s SO unfair!” and “Ohmygosh, she is so mean!” were the ideal complement to my ritual “padlocking” of the said diary so as to ward off the Sibling…who wouldn’t have been interested in reading its contents anyway, now that I come to think of it…

Anyway.

Now, it would be fairly safe to assume that this blog is the adult version of my sequin-spangled, flimsily-padlocked childhood diary, open for the interweb to read, right?

Not quite. (more…)

#socialmediafails: Like me! Follow me! (Love me.)

Awkward social media realisations and what motivates me to write.

ImageWhat is more fictitious, rainbow-coloured unicorns or what I post on social media?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

Last year I read an article which fundamentally shifted my perspective of my twenty-something life. The article, entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy”, struck so many chords in me that I still have the tab open in my phone web browser. The article explains the relationship between the discontentment many Gen Ys feel and our use of social media.

Can I highly recommend that you go and read it? I can? Good. If you have not read it please, PLEASE STOP READING THIS and go there RIGHT NOW! Come back to this tomorrow. Just go. Go!! Yes, it is quite long, but yes, it is that good. Have you gone yet? There are unicorns spewing rainbows. Now have I convinced you? Good. Finally.

After having read the Wait But Why* article everything suddenly made so much more sense. The comparative inadequacy I felt, which I had let social media fuel, was able to be rationalised down to a competition where, unbeknownst to me, everyone else is cheating just as much as I am. (For anyone who spews rainbows must be a master of illusions.) I found this clarity and the realisation that no one actually has their sh!t together really quite comforting.

Since having these mini unicorn-illustrated revelations you would think that I would try and do my little bit to stop this really awful, toxic cycle, right? Right. Wrong. 

Despite gaining this new perspective I have not demonstrated the maturity or security in myself to stop posting self-promoting status updates, tweets and photos. Posting on social media to (strategically) garner as many likes and follows as possible is Just. So. Addictive.

I’m guilty of it. I still am. It can range from the successful (“I got a full scholarship! I got a new job!”) to the vain (“Oh, did I just accidentally post a selfie? #notthataccidental”) to the envy-eliciting (“Casual check-in at a 5 star restaurant, darlings!”).

I am completely guilty of this. Yet, why do I still do this? Because it feeds my ego.

It makes me feel special.
It makes me feel important.
It makes me feel valued.
It makes me feel loved.
(And if that’s not f-ed up, then I don’t know what is.)

Is posting really inane, “real” details about our lives the solution? It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think so as that could be:
a) just as attention-seeking as the aforementioned types of posts. I’m sure you’ve encountered them, too – the vague, wallowing, woe-sharing without any explanation (think “Life is the worst!”) which often receive an outpouring of social media sympathy and “care”. (Perhaps that’s part of the issue – maybe we have conditioned ourselves to feel better by sharing our negative experiences on social media. Are we really that disconnected in real life?? If so, then that’s depressing.)
b) bloody boring (Posts of the “I just popped a really big pimple” variety. Too much reality. We do not need that much detail, thanks.)

Who the hell are we kidding? We all know rationally that real life does not have a vintage filter which enhances the colour of our days. Life can be wonderful, but life can be shit. This is nothing new. So, how come we are all buying into this big con, when we probably know that what we see on social media is only a fraction of someone else’s life – and it’s a fabricated fraction at that?

Perhaps the way to counter this isn’t by changing how and what we post, but by weaning ourselves off it altogether. Perhaps it’s time to migrate away from this behemoth that we incessantly feed. Perhaps it’s time to de-friend the fake friend that is social media.

(I mean, how has “de-friend” been allowed to become part of our vernacular?)

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Personally, I’ve been challenged by my relationship with social media through this blog.

“How?” you inquisitively inquire?

Well, over time it has become apparent that certain types of posts garner more likes, follows and hits than others, which makes it tempting to only write pieces of that ilk. From working in marketing I also know that ensuring that there is new content posted on a regular basis is beneficial for organic search engine optimisation (which we marketing folk call “SEO” – sorry for the jargon) where, basically, you’re aiming to be the first result in a Google search of certain terms which are relevant to your business/website/blog. You can aid your SEO by using key terms relevant to the searches you want to appear in throughout your site and by adding new content on a regular basis.

So, I’ve gotten into the habit of coordinating my posts on certain days of the week not only for SEO, but to correspond with when I know I’ll get the most traffic. An example? I do not post on Saturday night because:
a) most people are engaged in other activities on Saturday night and thus are less likely to see that I have posted something new and
b) it has become Very Important to pretend that you are having an Awesome Time doing something Awesome on Saturday night (even if you’re at home studying or sitting on Facebook when you’re meant to be studying). No one wants to commit social (media) suicide. Duh. 

But here’s the thing, I enjoy writing most when it is done out of a creative and emotional impulse. I need to express myself and it needs to happen now! And that means writing about things which are more or less sexy, controversial and happy-go-lucky than that which constitutes a popular post. Recently, I’ve been making myself post a new piece on certain nights each week which I fear is shifting my writing away from “impulse and expression” to “obligation”. The latter of which is the antithesis of what I want for this to be, because doing so would change the nature of this blog entirely.

See, I do not write for you; I write for us.

The “us” is imperative.

This blog would not be what it is if I didn’t write, firstly, for myself. See, if I was only writing to satisfy an external audience then I would find it less meaningful and fulfilling and the end product would reflect my being less emotionally invested in it.

Of course I write knowing that I have an audience and I greatly appreciate your readership, you gorgeous little bandicoots. It fills me with immense pleasure when you share that you have enjoyed reading a post or that it touched you. I love that. That really makes me so glad and it makes me feel pretty honoured, too. It is also, more often that not, comforting to hear that I am not the only one who is absolutely failing at life on a regular basis.

But of course not everyone likes this blog. And that’s perfectly ok – I am all for everyone having their own opinion. Furthermore, I am not under the illusion that this blog would appeal to everyone.

I have friends whom I respect and admire who have indicated that they do not like reading this blog. I let their unintentionally-hurtful, throwaway comments sting. Comments like, “I have another friend who has a blog. He’s a fantastic writer”. (I get what you’re implying. Cheers!) Look, I know they don’t approve of my sometimes less than G-rated vocabulary, content and cynicism. But that’s ok. I am not, after all, forcing them to read or specifically aiming to appeal to them.

But that isn’t going to stop me from writing.

I am not, after all, writing for any accolades or record-breaking number of website hits. I am not writing because I have to. I am not writing thinking that I am changing the world. I am not writing to please everyone. I am not writing to cast judgement on others (and if I do – please pull me up on it). I am not writing to perpetuate the life that I portray on Instagram.

I am writing because I find it therapeutic. I am writing because it allows me to unravel my thoughts and to learn from my experiences. I am writing because I love it.

And for the moment that is enough.

Alex x

* A name so desperately lacking in punctuation that it hurts my eyes. (Would it be so hard to add a comma and question mark?)

in the process.

My excuses for the silence.

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THE white peach and amaretto cheesecake.

Well, hello there.

It’s been a whole twelve days without posting anything. For those of you who had one less thing to waste their time with: Lucky the Oscars have been there to fill the void. For those of you who hadn’t noticed: It’s not being taken personally. For those of you who are wondering about the cheesecake: We are kindred spirits.

“Well, where have you been then, Alex?” I hear you inquire. 

You, my darling, are full of good questions. I’ve been:

  • Flying long-haul surrounded by seven (crying) babies.
  • Watching crappy movies whilst flying long-haul to drown out the sound of the aforementioned babies.
  • Unpacking.
  • Reading.
  • Getting myself quasi-organised for uni.
  • Going to uni.
  • Bludging uni.
  • Coughing. A lot of coughing.
  • Birthday-ing.
  • Eating that cheesecake… and chocolate… and other awesome sugary stuff.
  • Sleeping.

So, I’ve been somewhat busy. Well, sort of.

Now, here’s the part where you guess that I’m about to say “and this, cherubs, is why I haven’t had time to blog over the past nearly two weeks.”
Ahh not quite. This is actually the part where I tell you that I’ve been blogging a lot.

Huh? 

Well, ok. Perhaps there isn’t any evidence of this fact, but trust me – I’ve been typing. In fact, I have quite a few posts which are sitting there, more or less ready to go. It’s like they’re all just elegantly reclining in the Qantas first class lounge at Sydney International Airport, sipping on champagne and enjoying the free fine-dining; relishing it all whilst they can before Qantas’ imminent self-combustion.

Actually, I’ve kept these posts in the metaphoric airport lounge because neither they or I are quite ready.

Firstly, although these draft posts are 95% complete they still need some restructuring and refinement. Then in terms of me not being ready, it’s a matter of timing. See, when I type here it’s actually with a compulsion of sorts. I just need to get whatever it is that I’m saying or feeling out of my system. There is definitely an element of catharsis to the whole thing. And when it comes to pressing “publish”, I like to be feeling what I’m describing in that post – or at least being vaguely in the mindset I’m describing; I want to feel an emotional connection with the post’s content, rather than distancing myself from it.

I’m not really sure whether that last bit made any sense. Basically, I don’t want to force myself to post content; I want to publish posts because I have a genuine desire to do so. I think that as soon as I begin making myself post pieces that the essence of this blog will shift slightly. And, at the moment, I don’t want to shift it. I like it just the way it is.

Anyway. Who am I to deny anyone their free champagne?

In the meantime, thank you for your patience.

Alex x

les faux pas.

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This little bubba has turned six months old! Roughly. Whatever. Who actually needs an excuse to eat cake?

The vast majority of the time we use the French phrase “faux pas” to refer to a social blunder or awkwardness caused by not conforming to what society has deemed the norm. However, when you translate it directly from the French, “faux pas” means “false step” (although I think you could also say “misstep” or “incorrect step”). When it’s translated like that it makes me think of someone strolling blundering along their path in life (ooooh, deep and meaningful and we’re only in the first paragraph! Shut up, Alex.) It is a mistake, a trip on a rock you didn’t see was there or stacking it when you lose your balance walking through some mud.

Unintentional missteps and mistakes.

Fun fact for you: this blog is about half a year old! Yay! Half a birthday cake! It’s strange that it simultaneously feels like a lot shorter and longer than six months (if you know what I mean). Anyway. Thank you for your readership, you gorgeous squirrels.

Now, it wouldn’t be a real half birthday without reflecting on the past six months together. Here are some of my reflections (delivered to you as a conversation between me, myself and I. (Yeah. I know. I probably should stop talking to myself aloud sometime soon…)

Image“Let them eat half a cheesecake. ” – Marie Antoinette ft. Alex

Hi, Alex. So, what has your experience of blogging been like thus far?

A1: Hi! It’s been great, thanks. I really enjoy it and I’m so glad that I realised that I get a kick out of stringing words together. That was a very good light bulb moment, indeed.

A2: Yeah, I’m loving it, too. In fact, it’s got to the stage where, if things are going pear-shaped  I type it out of my system as a way of de-stressing. So, yeah, I guess in some ways it’s therapeutic.

Do you have any suggestions as to how the imperfect peach could improve or where you’d like to see it going?

A2: Well, I think that as you expand that mind of yours, Alex, that your content will begin to shift naturally.

Was that a politically correct way of suggesting that we have fewer Alex’s love life and failing-at-life-moments posts?

A2: Ha! Well, not necessarily. Although, I guess you do expose yourself quite a lot, don’t you? I mean, I know there were times when it was a big thing to select the “Publish Post” button and putting things which were intensely private out on the interweb was a big deal… but there are times when I worry that you cross the line and over-share that bit too much.

A1: Hmm. But you know what? For many reasons, I’m proud of you for having done that. For the stuff which was hard to post I think publishing it allowed you to let go of it and to move past it. And anyway, if you don’t laugh at yourself what’s the other option? Cry?

A2: True. Also, you have such a tendency to accumulate failing-at-life moments and love life drama that I’m sure you’ll still be sharing some of them in the way you currently do. But maybe it’d be helpful to wear a sign saying “If you ask me out on a date, there is a high chance that I shall make an anonymous reference to you in a future blog post.”

A1: OHMYGOD! Someone please make that sign!

Haha. Thanks, guys. Do you have any other suggestions for the the imperfect peach going forwards?

A1: Well, although I enjoy your failing-at-life moments and reading about your love life, I’ve been meaning to ask, can we change up the content a bit, please? Not totally, but I’m thinking about adding some other stuff into the mix. Perhaps some posts which are career-oriented or deal with the pre-moving out of home stage, for example, which are both very pertinent to your life at the moment.

Yeah. Ok, thanks. I like that idea. 

A2: And fewer faux pas…

Yeah…

A1: What are you referring to?

A2: Well, I know there has been at least one time when you’ve posted stuff that one or two friends have found insensitive and hurtful. I know it wasn’t ever intentional and that your motivation wasn’t to upset anyone, but I think you need to be more mindful of how the people in your Real Life may feel about what you write going forwards.

I completely agree. Point taken. I’m going to be very conscious of that.

A1: Although the faux pas haven’t been ideal, it’s interesting to note that the fact that you’ve stuffed up is in keeping with your theme of “imperfection”…

A2: Observant as ever, A1.

I hadn’t thought of that either, but I guess it’s true; imperfection is my area of specialisation… Anything else which you ladies would like to add before we wrap up?

A1: Keep on tapping that keyboard, Alex. But not too much. You have a tendency to waffle. Keep it short and simple. If you can express it in fewer words, do so.

A2: But don’t force it. Life is too short to invest time in things which you feel ambivalent about.

Thanks, A1 and A2! 

A1: Bye, Alex!

A2: And happy half birthday, the imperfect peach!

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And with that I am going to go on holidays.*

Ciao!

Alex x

*Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m still going to be blogging whilst I’m away. Yes, that’s right: I am still going to provide you with something to help you waste 10 minutes of your day. Yay!