One of my biggest fears right now is that someone from work will find my blog. I feel like I this isn't really something I should be afraid of though. I feel that I should be so proud of my work that I want anyone and everyone to see it. And I am proud of my blog. I'm proud of the way it's improved as I've got older and wiser and better at turning my strange commuter train musings into digestible reads of about 600 words. That's a skill that takes time to develop.
But the fear prevails. I worry that, were anyone to find this site, they would think I was incredibly self-absorbed to be writing about me, myself and my weird thoughts several times a week, with meticulously styled accompanying photographs no less. They would see me as the most stereotypical kind of millennial. So self absorbed I've erected a kind of online magazine which might as well be entitled All About Maddie And Her Stuff And Her Life. And, if they were to find my blog, the knowledge of that judgement would hang over my writing and stifle it from the moment of discovery onwards. So yeah it scares me.
Perhaps I'm being unfair on my coworkers. They are nice people, despite how I'm making them sound. But I think this is a fear a lot of us internet-oversharers have, and it comes from a place of doubt over whether our thoughts are really worth putting 'out there', particularly if what we like to write about is somewhere in the region beauty, lifestyle pieces or general 'woman stuff'. Lena Dunham has a brilliant passage at the beginning of Not That Kind Of Girl, where she says:
"As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up"
I think it's exactly that kind of thinking that causes the fear in me. But it's stupid. It really is. And its stupidity is proven by the enormous amount of enjoyment, encouragement and inspiration I myself draw from other women who just put their stuff out there.
For example, blogger and author Emma Gannon's podcast has on more than one occasion made my commute the highlight of my working day. Yup, the highlight. Her lively chats with cool women who have cool careers have both inspired me to be bolder, and reassured me that I'm not alone in comparing myself to everyone and anyone on instagram. Ditto The Guilty Feminist podcast which is also amazing. And there's Manrepeller, which is so badass I can almost taste it, but centres around the very womanly world of fashion. And of course Lena herself. We can't forget Lena.
All these sites and all these women bring me more joy, entertainment and inspiration than any traditional media source could ever dream to, because they're real and they're relevant, and they bring to the table the kind of multi-faceted female voices I've seldom - if ever - seen reflected in mainstream media, which is valuable. So valuable. And all of it stems from women just putting it out there. Just going 'here are my thoughts, they are worth reading, there you go'.
So I guess this is a reminder to myself and to all of you to unapologetically put yourself out there, whatever it is, whether you write or draw or talk about lipstick or politics or artisan cheese. Just stick it out there in the world. It is worth saying, it is contributing, it is bringing joy and reassurance to people you don't even know exist.
Your thoughts are worth reading. That is all.