Posted by: GeekHiker | November 8, 2012

Questions And… Questions

It seems I’m filled with more questions than answers at the moment, doesn’t it?

This seems strange to me.  After all, most of the accounts I’ve read of people who took gap years returned from them with fulfillment, direction, insight.  Instead, I find myself filled with more questions rattling around in my head than answers, trying to come up with solutions and, it seems, failing at every turn.

Foremost on my mind, of course, is employment.  I more or less threw myself into the whole problem fully upon my return from overseas… so much so that I haven’t really taken any time to think about my travels.  To wit: it was only tonight that I finally pulled the tape off the box of stuff from my road trip last year.  The urge is there, of course, to sit down and spend weeks going through that box, all the pictures I took, and the journal notes I made along the way and start writing about them.  Without a large inheritance or a book advance to cover the bills, though, I’m finding it difficult to think that tackling that project is the best use of my time, and so I slide the box away again.

Instead, I’ve been working on re-branding myself of a sort, trying to turn my previous strictly-IT career into a technical writing career.  As such, I’ve been taking time to build a website showing examples of all the documentation and such that I wrote at my last job (amongst my many, many duties there).  This has all taken far more time than I expected.  As I write this tonight, I find myself wondering where the last three months have disappeared to.

Still, if anyone has any leads on any kind of work, either out here on the west coast or online, feel free to send me an email.  (And so the networking begins…)

* * *

Of course, I’m still pondering the blog.  And my life.  And how the blog fits into my life and I fit into it.

Did you ever read my first post?  Strange to think it was five years ago now.  The biggest take-away that I’m thinking of right now, though, is this: I started the blog just after the breakup with The Ex, and I’d started it as an anonymous journal.  At the time, I had few friends (all of them had been hers, really), the same job that I left in 2011, and all-in-all a pretty different life.

As George Takei would say: Oh, myyyyy how things have changed.

The blog rather quickly became non-anonymous… sort of.  It wasn’t long before I broke my own rules and started meeting people through the blog, starting with Just-A-Girl and then expanding into a far wider circle of friends than I ever could have anticipated when I wrote that first post.  From a journal that started out as a decidedly anonymous forum to air my thoughts I’ve welcomed into my life a whole series of wonderful people.  We’ve shared meals, hiked together, and some of them have even allowed me to crash on their floors or in their spare bedrooms on my travels.

At the same time, I forced myself out of my cocoon in L.A. into hiking and backpacking groups, and ended up with a circle of the closest friends that I’ve ever had.  There are many things about Los Angeles that I don’t miss, but my circle of friends there is an ache I feel often right now.

But… only one of those friends knows that I’m The GeekHiker.  And he discovered it by accident, on his own.

And now I’ve returned from traveling overseas, with a whole additional group of friends added to my FaceBook page (my real one; there is no GeekHiker page), and couple of whom I’m still in regular contact with.  Many of them I’d no doubt be hanging out with regularly, were they not on the other side of the world.

My family has no idea that the blog exists.  Of course, this was initially by design: after all, if you’re going to start a journal or diary to air your private thoughts, joys, and fears, it’s pretty unlikely that you’d tell your parents about it.  In that respect, it’s no different than the horror a teenager might experience at the thought of a parent discovering their diary hidden underneath the bed.

So I find myself with all these disparate worlds.  Anonymous friends I know only through blogging.  Friends in real life whom I’ve met through the blog.  Real life friends who know of the blog.  Real life friends who don’t know of the blog.  Family members, none of whom know of my online existence.  Only recently did I realize that, in my head, I keep little lists going.  “Oh, these people know I’m GeekHiker.”  “Oh, these people don’t know I’m GeekHiker.”

And I pause and wonder if I shouldn’t integrate the two worlds.

Then I immediately think of all the things I’ve posted in the past.  All the things one can write about when one is blogging anonymously.  When one doesn’t need to worry about seeing a friend or family member after the post is uploaded and having to look them in the eye, knowing that they’ve read your deepest, innermost thoughts.  And while it’s one thing to have people, who started as anonymous strangers themselves, come to your writing, read it extensively, and like you anyway, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame to introduce such writing to friends and family previously unaware of its existence.

Which brings me to the greatest conundrum of all: my Parents.  If I do want to take any of my writing and seriously start putting my career towards it, I would have to tell them.  And I know they (Mom especially) would go back through and read my posts extensively.  And while that’s fine on a hiking or travel post, what about a post about dating? Or, worse, about them?  Let’s face it, this post isn’t exactly something I think they’d enjoy reading.  Besides, as I discovered recently, Mom really takes umbridge to people keeping secrets from her.

That’s the problem, you see: one half of GeekHiker.com is a blog about hiking and geekery and whatever, and the other half is a personal journal.  Seriously, would you show your diary to your parents?

It’s a situation filled with so many unknowns.  How would they react to my “secret” blog?  How would they react to my writing?  How would they react to some of the things I’ve said?  Would I have to answer for something I wrote four years ago that I barely even remember now?  Lately I’ve been pondering sending them a pdf copy of Lost In The Dark, just to see how they might react to my travel writing.

In some ways it’s all a big mistake, something that slipped out of my control.  Had I known when I opened the door in that first post in 2007 where the blog would have led, I would have probably started two blogs, or at least locked the personal posts behind passwords.  I won’t lie: despite the close and good relationship that I have with my parents, its been nice to have a forum that they didn’t know about in which I can express myself freely.  I’ll probably still need that, somewhere.  But juggling these multiple existences is becoming tiresome on the whole.

Balanced against all that is one basic fact: over the past five years I’ve created a body of work here.  One which, although cleaning it up (cleaning up posts, adding tags, fixing pictures and links, etc.; such a large project that I would probably need help, in fact) would be a massive undertaking, it’s still easier than the impossible task of creating it all from scratch.  Moreover, I keep thinking, now that I have this body of work, shouldn’t I try to make it work for me?  The only way I’ll really be able to make use of it, though, is if I clean it up, split out the old personal stuff, and reveal the rest to family and friends.

I’ll gladly take any advice anyone can give, particularly if you’re stuck in the same boat.

Risks and rewards.  Positives and Negatives.  Questions and… questions.

(One decision I have made, though: the next post will have to be about travel.  Not only do I need the distraction, even I’m getting sick of thinking about this stuff…)

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Responses

  1. I think, if you are going to make yourself known (and I, for one, would love it if you would), you should just put it all out there and not worry so much about what your family thinks. They may not be aware of every word you say or write, but they know and love you. I’m sure they will (after a shock or two) be grateful for the opportunity to know you deeply and openly. Not too long ago, I had something similar happen to me and it was a pretty difficult time for me….but, after a short while, we were closer and I was extremely relieved to be myself and not a version that I thought others would approve of. Just let go.

    • You know, I’m sure that they would, in the end, support me. And yet, I still find myself wanting to test the waters by sending them the writing first. Maybe I just want to know that they’re interested in the work, before revealing the whole “secret…”

  2. Trust me, don’t do it. DO NOT let your IRL friends and family know about the blog. It just causes self censorship and a lot of stress.

    You want a blog for family? Make a separate one just for that.

    • I’ll email you, but I was mostly thinking of clearing the personal stuff off of here, leaving only the non-personal hiking/outdoorsy/geeky stuff in place, before telling friends and family…

  3. Not in the same boat here but, take out or “protect” whatever they don’t need or wouldn’t like to read. It’s up to you but I don’t think that your blog is that controversial even to your parents. Oh, and welcome back.

    • Thanks for the welcome back! Hmmm… I don’t know. Wouldn’t you take offense if someone said you were difficult to live with? LOL

  4. Nothing shuts down the muse more than censorship. I started my blog anonymously at first and then boldly thought to make it public and have since found myself feeling very shy about some of the more private and vulnerable posts. I have been slowly going through and re-editing to take the more personal ones offline and put them in a more appropriate private place but this takes a lot of work. In fact, I was thinking of hiring someone to advise me on what might appear too private since I may be too close to the subject matter to be object. (If you want the job, it’s yours! 🙂

    If you make this blog public, give yourself a forum for your private voice too. If you decide to keep it intact, public, and share, maybe it will feel freeing to be who you are despite anyone’s reaction. I mean, that’s pretty much the course for any artist, right? How safe does it feel to be yourself?

    • Job? What’s the pay?

      The strange thing is that the blog is such a hybrid right now: public with those I’ve met via the blog, anonymous to people I knew beforehand. I suppose, in a sense, it actually ceased to be anonymous a long time ago, I simply chose to hide it from people and gave myself the illusion that it was…

  5. *objectIVE. argh

  6. I’ve never been in this position since my family has always known about my blog so take what i say with a grain of salt. I think you should “come out” to you parents and friends. I’m not so sure about the whole sanitized blog thing. You said that your Mom doesn’t like secrets being kept from her. What do you think she would think if you gave her some secrets but left her out of others? I don’t think she would be happy. You could sanitize the blog and then tell her that you have sanitized it and that some things are just too private … but then you have to explain why it’s not OK for her to see it but it’s fine for total strangers to see it.

    I agree with a few above that being public does result in a lot of self-censorship. Maybe your more personal thoughts should be offline in a hand written journal. If you don’t want to share with your friends and family then if probably shouldn’t be shared with strangers in public.

    Yank off the Band-Aid, my friend.

    • I worry that Mom won’t be happy no matter what. I never honestly expected to be here, asking myself this question. What started out as a private journal, the type most people would keep, well, private, morphed into a public blog. When I wrote those early, private posts, I never expected to meet anyone in real life from the blog to begin with. Of course, since no one I’ve met in real life has judged me harshly, perhaps I’m more protective of that stuff than I should be…

  7. Unfortunately no advice from me (nothing really meaningful that I don’t think has already occured to you anyway!) I am, however sending positive thoughts for the job hunting and decision making! It’s a pity you haven’t had more time to wallow in the awesomeness of travel 🙂

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like to come back after traveling the world… do you feel like things in your regular life had taken giant jumps ahead in their timeline withought you? Or was it the other way around – like they’d stayed still while you’d jumped ahead?

    • Well, shoot, I was hoping you’d have more insight, given your fam knows about your blog! I appreciate the positive thoughts, though (know any NZ companies that would like to sponsor a really nice American for a work visa?).

      As to your second question, I’ll have to ponder that for a bit. Might make a nice blog post, actually…

      • Heh, I told my Family and close mates about Le Blog, because with the whole depression thing, they were worried, and I knew I wasn’t communicating enough with them 🙂

        It’s been a bit of a godsend in that respect because I’m crap at picking up a phone and filling people in, and I know that a lot of my mates choose not to read it, because they’re just not interested, and that’s just fine too – I mean, they get to experiance the wonder of me in person, who needs the blog too? 😉

        BUT having a public blog means that I do censor some of my thoughts – although that might be a good thing because often when I have the impulse to write inflamatory things, I’m just venting, and the impulse is gone once I’ve slept on it.

        Also knowing who might read my blog helps me stick to my principles – I figure that if I wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then I should be damn careful about writing it in a public forum and inviting that kind of karma into my life.

        So like everything, having a public blog has good sides, and bad sides 🙂

        Be really careful about being sure what you decide, because once it’s out, it’s out!

  8. First, I know several people who had amazing gap years, and then felt kind of deflated/empty when they returned to ‘normality’.

    Second, it seems like there are two separate reasons for potentially wanting to reveal your blog:
    (1) Being able to make use of the writings, and
    (2) Cleaning up the messiness of who knows what.

    For (1), I would say that it depends on what you want to use the writings for. If for travel writing/hiking posts etc (which I really enjoy reading btw) then I would say go ahead, separate these out and make them more public. Reason (2) is much more difficult to solve. I’d be tempted to go the split route, keeping the personal stuff anonymous, but that runs the risk of having the same thing happen in the future (ie some people know and some don’t).

    FWIW, I don’t think it is dreadful to have stuff we don’t tell our parents, no matter how close we are. As far as I recall, nothing you have written comes under the heading “deep dark secret that they really ought to know about”, but instead as “personal thoughts and musings of the type we all have”. Just because you have written yours down doesn’t mean they have a right to read them. To flip it around, I don’t think I would want to know all of my parents’ inner thoughts about me and the world, though of course if they were presented to me I wouldn’t be able to stop myself reading them and potentially getting upset (even though we generally get on very well). But, only you know your parents.

    Sorry about the long message!

    • First, never feel the need to apologize for a long comment! Discussion is always welcome. 🙂

      I think you’ve stated the problem nicely. And you’re right, if I split the personal stuff out, I run the risk of exactly the same thing happening all over again, unless I chose to make the blog a password-access-only one and place it all behind a firewall.

      And I agree. It’s not that I think that they need to see everything, or need to know my deepest darkest secrets, nor do I need to know theirs. I think my concern at this point is that somewhere in the last 650+ posts, I blew off steam somewhere. Maybe it was four years ago or whatever, and I don’t remember it now. But words can last, and I’d hate for them to read some ancient post like that, today, and be hurt by it. Does that make sense?

  9. It’s been a long time since I checked in, but as a former blogger who was not anonymous, my advice is share with your parents that you have a blog, that you have this interest, but don’t feel obligated to give them the address. It does change things when people you care about read it; for me, I wasn’t able to share as much as I wanted, as honestly as I wanted, and that contributed to my losing interest in writing it. I miss blogging now, and toy with the idea of doing it again, but it would have to either be private/anonymous and totally truthful, or about something totally benign, like a hobby that I had a unique take on and would therefore be proud to attach my name to it. Since I got more satisfaction attaching my name to the blog than writing any salacious details, and since I’d only do it to further a writing career in which of course my name would be attached, I would go with option B, if I could ultimately come up with a hobby I wanted to write about. You already have that hobby, so you could do two separate blogs (better for monetization, anyway) – the hiking one that you attach your name to, and an anonymous one about your personal life, reflections, etc. Basically just start to think of the personal one as a journal that doesn’t suffer from illegible handwriting. Anyway, that’s my advice from someone who hasn’t written in two years, so take it for what it’s worth. 🙂

  10. […] also realizing that these were lessons I’ve been learning all along.  The questions I had in November may not still be answered, but I also know that I haven’t really been an […]


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