Starting Again…

I have always looked at blogging as being a chore. It has been something I can’t enjoy because I’ve only ever done it as part of uni assessments. Even though at its core blogging is a form of self-expression, I always looked at it as something that was being judged and assessed, and so I would never get too personally attached to what I was writing out of fear of criticism.

When I was in high school I was very committed to school and concerned with marks. This may have stemmed from being bullied pretty viciously in primary school, and becoming a very quiet person who read a lot. Before you make assumptions, I did have friends and I wasn’t unpopular in high school. I was just part of the 90% who weren’t part of the popular group either. Just kind of existing. Looking back this may not have been a bad thing because I was top of a lot of my classes and the people I was friends with at school have become my best friends in adult life.

This story does have a point, I promise. When I went into year 11, I qualified to do Advanced and Extension English for my HSC. As I mentioned before, I was very concerned with marks rather than “the journey” of completing an assignment (cue flashbacks of HSC English) and for Extension English I was given a 3000-word essay assignment. This was by far the longest piece of writing I had ever done and I put a lot of effort into it. I got 8/20.

What happened after I got given my marks can only be described as a very embarrassing, awful experience. I felt that lump in the back of my throat that means you’re on the verge of tears. I held it in. My teacher asked me if I was ok, and I burst into tears. The difference to other instances of bursting into tears was that I couldn’t stop. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started hyperventilating. Tears were streaming and I couldn’t form sentences. It felt like I was dying. I went to the bathroom to clean myself up but I still couldn’t stop, and I spent the rest of the class taking shallow, loud breaths while my classmates pretended to ignore it. I decided in that moment that I never wanted to feel this way again.

From then on I stopped caring about marks. It wasn’t that I kept trying hard but wouldn’t let a bad mark affect me too much, I just stopped trying. It didn’t seem worth it, and if I got a bad mark it wouldn’t matter because I hadn’t put in effort anyway.

Years later I found out that I’d probably had a panic attack, and that it wasn’t something that I was prone to so was probably an anomaly. Something that, chances are, would never happen again. But the damage had already been done. My marks dropped and I didn’t get a good ATAR.

In the end I got into the course I wanted to do and that part of my life seems like such a long time ago. I think I have a healthy relationship with marks now, and I can take them as they are- numbers. However I don’t like the idea of being judged on something personal. And now we come full-circle to the reason I never enjoyed blogging. It didn’t feel like something I could use for self-expression, because it was going to get judged by someone who came from a different context and set of experiences.

I’ve decided to start blogging of my own accord now, for me, and not for anyone else. And if I get some negative feedback or a nasty comment every so often then just know that I’m probably having a panic attack and it’s YOUR FAULT! Or I’ll just brush it off and remember that everyone comes from a different place and experience. So watch this space.


One thought on “Starting Again…

  1. I am so struck by this. It speaks very closely to my own relationship to blogging, which I began in a conscious decision to separate myself from the way in which professionals are judged on academic productivity.

    Like you, I knew I had reservations about these formal measuring practices that seemed to do as much harm as good (good to the few, harm to the many — your 90%), and so I started to write in public, in my own voice, and for myself, with the aim of evaluating for myself whether what I was doing was consistent with my own standards and values.

    Looking back, I’m incredibly glad that I did. Through writing in public I found a large network of people thinking similarly, that I’d never have found by sitting in my office worrying about the nature of work. And by writing this out in public I’ve been given the chance to make a small contribution to a global debate about wellbeing in academia, that I would never have done through conventionally productive means.

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m really looking forward to seeing this blog develop.


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