The Idea of Anonymity

For a time, I wanted to be famous. Perhaps many people want this at some point. To be known, to be loved and now especially, to be followed. How many do you have?

People who know what you’re up to, what’s going on in your life. What you’re proud of, overcoming and attempting, or something you want to teach others. Have you considered how many you want to have?

I recently had an influx of followers. By influx, I’m talking three or four. I’m not one of the writers or contributors on Medium who has thousands of people reading their work, nor do I contribute to multiple publications. Yet I was still one of those invited to become a ‘founding member’ of Medium this weekend, which I found rather perplexing. Just in a tilt your head a bit way, not anything to get particularly emotional about.

Back to the influx of followers — would you believe it caused me a bit of anxiety? This has happened several times before. I’ve written for two different publications under my actual name, and then started my own blog a couple months ago. But as soon as I start gaining any semblance of traction or exposure, I dip. People, reading MY STUFF? First, “hey, maybe I can actually do this.”

Then, “SHITSHITSHIT.” Too many possible connections. It might come back and.

And? And what? I’m back on the playground, swinging. It’s fun to show others how high you can go, how high they can go, too. You use your momentum and at the top of your arc you’re leaning back so far you feel perpendicular to the ground. That’s my initial reaction.

But if I pull that move for the first time in years, I forget how much my stomach drops when I finally sit up and look back down. There’s that brief moment of panic where it really feels like you’re just going to drop to the ground and die.

On a swing, you don’t (unless you are someone who actually let go, sorry), and you laugh or squeal and then keep swinging. In writing, and a lot of other things, when your stomach drops, you can easily jump ship. So if you do fall, no one has to see. Or if you might actually succeed, that doesn’t have to be a big deal either.

I mean, I’m also paranoid about how much data I give out and how it’s used. Everything I do on the internet now is recorded somehow (or, you know, going to be sold), so what do I have to lose? Anyone with a minimal amount of computer savvy and google could easily figure out who I am. I would say ‘I’m not sure if that’s comforting or not,’ were my overall lack of knowledge of the implications not so massively discomforting.

The conundrum is that I greatly enjoy writing. And interacting with people. And if I write consistently, I will improve. Doesn’t mean I’m great (or good) by any means, but practice usually results in improvement, and that may invite more followers. Being the future-oriented thinker I am, I automatically jump to where there’s enough people following me that my 7 degrees of separation are filled and it’s silly to continue faking anonymity.

Yes, that’s assuming I even stick it out long enough to get through 2 or 3 degrees of separation. I’d like to though. I’d like to stick with something and not get scared of success. I’ve failed enough times in the past year and a half to break that former anxiety of mine. I used to be a chronic perfectionist, a slave to it (and yet acutely aware of just how much I fell short, in what way, when, with whom).

Now, I rarely give two shits, but there’s also not many paying attention. I fail regularly and often and am handling it much better than I used to. Succeeding? I haven’t gotten that figured out yet. Which is not to say I’m not having many little wins, sometimes in a day, but I don’t recognize them and celebrate them properly yet. I don’t know how to reward myself, odd as that sounds.

I am skilled in appreciating little things and big things, and now can appropriately handle failure (doesn’t mean I do, but I am at least capable). Success and pride, however, are still awfully foreign, unless it’s for someone other than myself; I am a fabulous cheerleader and motivator.

The idea of anonymity while I continue to figure this out is comforting because I can speak more on the things I actually want to work on. Like growing up with an emotionally abusive parent and watching that parent physically abuse a sibling. And continuing to live with that parent due to an inability to work full-time thanks to a disability/chronic illness and a looming pile of student loans, but trying to do what I can given the circumstances. Or navigating the healthcare minefield in order to continue getting my medications and afford therapy appointments (among others).

I don’t want to be famous right now, though I can’t say it will always be that way — if it’s for ‘good’ (whatever that means now, am I right??) then maybe I’m obligated? Once more, I’m getting ahead of myself. And all of this because of a couple new followers (thank you new followers :) ).

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