Although I generally dislike metablogging (blogging about blogging for those of you less fancy-wording folk), my inspiration to write this last week has been lacking (maybe you noticed) because of another brief flare up of the ulcerative colitis and the return-from-travel blahs from my post-honeymoon reality shock. I feel that I'd like to take stock of what this blog is and how it's changed over the last three years. But most importantly, how it has changed me.
Before this blog, I wrote on livejournal for about four-five years, although most of that was friends-only and is now privately archived for myself. I have kept some kind of regular writing journal since I was in about sixth grade (and wrote story collections throughout elementary school before that), but bringing it online and making my private life much more public has changed my writing and my personality--almost entirely in positive ways. Here are five of them:
1. I am more adventurous than I was. Because I started the blog to record my travels to Korea (and other places), I've pushed myself to try more things, meet more people, take more pictures, and do more things than I might have done without the inspiration to record it. Three years ago, I'd never been outside of the U.S. Now, I've lived in Korea for two and a half years (visiting many, many places there), traveled on my own to Vietnam, and just came back from my self-planned honeymoon to Cambodia and Thailand. It might not sound like a lot to some of my travel-happy blog buddies, but compared to where I was three years ago, it's awesome.
2. As a writer, I am more confident than I was. The instantaneous feedback of blog comments is both a blessing and a curse, and I've definitely had to deal with some hits to my fragile writing ego from negative comments. However, the overall response to my writing has been positive and the feedback has provided consistent critique for my writing without having to be in school. As a result, I have been writing more than ever and submitting more of my writing to literary magazines. So far, no takers... but I do admit that I haven't been as vigilant about this as I'd like to be.
3. I have deeper, more meaningful relationships with the family members and friends who read my blog. Not all of my real-life friends and family read what I write, but those that do (like my mom who sometimes comments on here and Sa Beom Nim's wife whose checking on my life reminded me how much I missed my old TKD studio) know me in a way that I don't always reveal face-to-face. I also have made good real-life friends that I originally met through blogging, like Amanda. (Side note: When I first blogged with livejournal, the opposite happened. I very quickly lost some friendships and damaged some others very seriously (which have thankfully recovered and are much stronger). However, having blogged more these days, I think that was kind of a fluke and that I just had some very mutually toxic friendships in college. Generally, blogging and honesty in writing has been cathartic and unifying.
4. I am more accountable to myself and my goals. Not only can I go back and read them anytime I want to, I feel like anybody in the world can look at my blog posts and read about my plans and put two and two together and figure out if I failed to keep the promises I made to myself (I often do... or at least don't accomplish them on my planned time frame). As a direct result of blog accountability pressure, I've gotten out of consumer debt, obtained a black belt in taekwondo, and become very selective in who I date (which, in turn, led to dating and marrying Min Gi).
5. I am more vulnerable and honest than I was. The ability to open up to others is not something that comes naturally to me, although I am a pretty good listener. It's not exactly that I lie about the facts of my life (I've always been disturbingly honest about those--like the third grade autobiography that matter-of-factly discusses my adopted brother's history of abuse), I just tend not to share what I'm really feeling or thinking about things. Partly, I (mistakenly) assume those I feel closest to will know them without me having to tell them and partly, I hate being vulnerable. Although I haven't gotten into it on this blog (relevance, people), some of my childhood was pretty screwed up and a huge chunk of it (between the ages of 4 and 7-9) is just missing (yes, I have vivid, ordinary memories from ages 2 and 3... so it's not just a normal "I forgot" thing). Therapy (and other writing not-suitable-for-blogging) healed that mess, but it left me without the ability to risk showing my true hand. I'm still scared of emotional nudity, but blogging, for all its limitations of being a very public forum and therefore I actually cannot discuss the specifics of certain things (mostly job related), is cathartic. Like a shy woman discovering her own beauty through the eye of the skilled photographer, writing out my feelings and seeing them reflected in the comments I get lets me see their strength. Feelings that before, I thought were a sign of weakness.)
So, yeah... blogging is great.
But my life is changing so much this year, I worry that my blog will change too much. I'm married now (so less blogging about the single life and dating). I'm moving back to the U.S. to become a public school teacher again, and while I am in no way ashamed of anything I've written here, nor would I be upset if my students discovered my private writing life (if anything, it is an EXCELLENT example of what I tell them about writing all the time), education in America is a bit of a double-edged sword--and internet life has cost more than one teacher her job. Also, living in the U.S. as an American is just a lot less exotic than living in a foreign country. Finally, Min Gi and I are planning to start a family when we are settled (read: I find a job) in the U.S. (yes, Mom and Dad, you read that right), and while exposing my adult friends on the blog is great fun, I'm protective of children and wouldn't want to reveal as much about them to an unknown audience. So in the near future, my "slice of life" blog may, of necessity, get a bit less revealing. I hope, though, not less interesting.
What's a girl to blog about? I'm going to keep blogging about the workings of my intercultural marriage and what I learn of my current favorite country (Korea) and its language. I'm still reading a lot (though I missed two Wednesday Reviews), and I will blog about what I'm reading. I still plan to travel (a LOT), and write about the places I go and the things/people I see there (I have at least a week's worth of blogs about the honeymoon I'm working on). As I continue to struggle with my ulcerative colitis, I may need to write about my ongoing health issues, especially now that I've resumed taekwondo at An Il with the intention to get my second black belt before I leave Korea. I'll probably write more about education in the U.S. because as a teacher there, I'm a bigger cog in the system than I am, as a native-speaking English teacher, in Korea. And I'll probably blog more about my family, as I will be living with/near them. Recently, I'm getting into frugal living/personal finance blogs and the minimalist movement, so I might write some about that (ridding myself of possessions is quite freeing). I hope you find all this fun and entertaining to read. I think my blog will become more hodgepodge (a little of this, a little of that) and less Korea-intense. Those of you reading it primarily because of your interest in Korea might find less of value, but I hope others will still remain curious about my very strange "wonderings."
Finally, I'm in the beginning stages of "monetizing" my blog, which for those of you not versed in blog-ese, means advertising or partnering with sites to earn money for people clicking on some links in my blog. I've been resistant to doing this for some time, but I've finally figured out what I want to do: I want to donate all the money I earn from this blog to my favorite charities. I love volunteering, but I know that many organizations benefit more from financial donations than they do that of time. However, I'm not rich. Nor will I ever be rich (teachers don't end up with foundations and scholarships named after them all that often, especially not those who are addicted to travel and are the main earner in the family). I donate money to charity every year, but it's not much. So here's the deal: Please click on my links if you plan to buy books (or other goodies) from Amazon. I'm going to be compiling my Korea story into a downloadable narrative e-book that I'll charge a small fee for. I may even play with Google's fancy monetizing features. Whatever money I make from so doing, I will donate to charity. I will track it openly for you in a tab (for accountability purposes--and because everyone keeps talking about "making money from blogging" and I remain firmly unconvinced of the earning power of life-narrative blogs like mine) and where I have given it. If you become inspired to give to one of my pet charity projects, please leave me a comment so that I know you care! (Please note: My husband HATES that I tell people about my charitable giving because he thinks it is "bragging." I used to feel that way, but having worked for enough charitable organizations in volunteer capacities, I now see the power of fundraising for them. And I believe that giving begets giving, but not if no one knows about it.)
So there it is: My blogging past, present, and future.
Here's to another happy year of blogging and living!