“I didn’t like your last post,” Casey admitted to me last night. I’m paraphrasing (have you met Casey? He’s WAY too polite to be so abrupt!), but the general gist of our conversation was “you’re not writing as personally as you used to”, “you know your first post? That felt and sounded like an actual conversation with you”, and “there’s a certain vulnerability and humanness that’s missing from your ‘17 Things I Did In 2017‘ piece; I feel like you’re censoring yourself.”
And he’s right. I am being more guarded about what I say online. Because where I used to open up freely and treat my blog like a coffee catch-up with a best friend, I now regularly pause and contemplate: how much is… TOO much to share?
I’ve been blogging since 2007. My first blog was named by my then-boyfriend, and was called ‘Miss Corrine’ (a title I loathed; I don’t even like the word “Miss”!), and my second blog was titled ‘Frock And Roll’, after two of my (then) greatest interests: fashion (“frock”), and music (“rock and roll”). It’s never been a secret; I’ve used my full name on each of them (so, they’re searchable!), and their website addresses have always been displayed on my social media profiles. But in my decade on the internet, I have had a couple of experiences which have made me question whether or not I should be more private.
As a 19 year-old, I once wrote about my “style resolutions” for the year ahead. It wasn’t scandalous; I discussed (I think; it was 11 years ago!) how I wanted to put more effort into my appearance (as opposed to grabbing the first clean item from the floor, and hurling it on), and some types of dresses I wanted to wear. Shortly after, a male colleague in his late 50’s greeted me in the workplace with “hi, Miss Corrine! Ooh… is this outfit part of your new “style resolution” process? I LIKE it…” He made it very clear that he had read my blog – which I had never told him about – and from that point onwards, would frequently make inappropriate comments about my image. My skin crawled. Eventually, he was fired (for something unrelated), but MAN was being employed alongside him uncomfortable until then.
Two years ago, I started a new job where I worked with someone who – for whatever reason – took an instant dislike to me. It was weird, and something that had never happened to me before, but she could barely even bring herself to acknowledge me each day. She refused to teach me anything, but was the first person to pull me up on any mistakes I made. She criticised everything I’d say aloud, and then wondered why I stopped speaking around her. She even drew my name in the office ‘Secret Santa’, and returned it to the hat – in front of me – wrinkling up her nose and saying, “I don’t want Corrine!” And then she arrived at work one morning, with a wide smirk, and declared “you have a blog.” Her apparent hatred for me had reached an intensity where she’d taken to Google-ing my name, and had located my then-blog and Twitter account. I wasn’t concerned that she’d found them – again, if they were meant to be hidden from the world, I would have never used my full name on them! – but it did trouble me that she was sharing the links around as though she had something “on” me. Everything I’d ever written had come straight from the heart; but now I had someone sifting through my posts to find “dirt”. It was an odd feeling.
So how do you strike a balance? A happy medium between being as frank and real as possible, without handing over your soul? I’m endeavouring to find some middle ground, whilst still pressing ‘publish’…