Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Blogging Reflections

I began attending meditation classes a few weeks ago in an attempt to regain balance in my life.  The 2013 year has totally kicked my ass so far and I desperately need to find some stability in this foreign culture.

Is that too much information about my personal life?  How is it relevant to this post’s topic?

My meditation classes have forced me to pause and ask myself fundamental questions about my life.  As a result, I’ve been thinking about this blog and what I’m trying to accomplish with it.

I’ve been writing almost every day for over six months now, but I don’t consider myself a “blogger.”  Moreover, I’ve also only recently started reading other people’s blogs to try to better understand what’s appropriate for this media type.

My blog has a specific “Purpose,” but instead of deeply exploring issues, I feel like I mostly skim the surface by describing anecdotes about my life in Johannesburg.  This blog mostly serves as a place for my brain to expel its thoughts as I try to make sense of my experiences here.  It’s 95% stories and 5% analysis, whereas I’d prefer it to be the other way around.  Or at least closer to 50/50.

An ex-boyfriend of mine once told me, “All you ever do is quote articles and books.  You don’t have any original thoughts of your own.”

His statement is the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me.  His words silenced me for years.  At the same time, however, I recognize that they hurt because they struck a chord with some of my deepest fears.  I can’t help but wonder, “Is this blog proving his opinion of me?”

Please don’t think that I’m fishing for validation or complements.  On the contrary, I’m determined to move past these fears on my own.  I think the first step is to admit my insecurities instead of being ashamed of them.

Is that too personal again?  Pretend like you’re in school: pick a thesis and stick to it!  Stop the emotional vomitWho is your audience?

Good question.  Who is my audience?  Let’s see: mom, dad, grandma, aunts, uncles, best friend, a couple other friends, one friend’s mom, and a bunch of strangers.  Am I writing to educate others?  Am I writing to reassure people back home that I’m still alive?  What is my purpose?

On another note, I write like I speak.  I use colloquial language instead of proper grammar.  Look at the 5th paragraph of this post: “I feel.”  Would you ever read “I feel this argument is true because” in an academic paper?

This is one of the blogs I began reading as research on how to blog: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/

I disagree with the author’s point of view on most topics, particularly this post: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/01/no_self-respecting_woman_would.html

I had to read it more than once to understand his argument.  He bounces around a couple ideas, each related to women and power.  It took me awhile, though, to realize how much I disagreed with his opinions. 

Know why? 

First, his tone is authoritarian and doesn’t invite opposing points of view. 

Second, he writes smart.  He uses an obviously educated vocabulary and backs up enough of his points with outside sources to appear supported and confirmed.

I wouldn’t want to get into an argument with this guy.

My approach, on the other hand, is to invite dissenting opinions as much as possible.  I don’t sound (or read) like I’m sure of myself because, honestly, I’m not sure of myself.

Pretty much anyone could punch holes in my arguments… my tone even invites people to punch holes in my arguments!

Furthermore, my words are so obviously a woman’s that it turns my stomach a little bit.  I grew up doing male-dominated activities (basketball, martial arts, advanced math classes) and I know that women can’t just be as good as men to be taken seriously – they have to better.  So should I stop with the “I feel”s?  Should I stop writing things like “human beings have infinite capacity for compassion”?  Could I sound any more like a vapid hippy if I tried?

On the other hand, these are the stereotypes I want to break.  I want to prove that a compassionate, unobtrusive woman is just as smart and perceptive as a dominant-type man.  I want to show that my nice “womanly” qualities don’t discount my strong will or insightful intellect.

I also want to break down the gender divide, but paragraphs like the one above obviously aren’t helping.

So now that I’ve reflected, what I am going to change?

More analysis.  Proper grammar (starting tomorrow).  Replace passive tone with active tone.

Less stories?  Nah.  I like the stories.

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