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.