The first day back is a momentous occasion. It’s a time when we reflect on our break, reminisce on our past engagement, and often apologize for our absence. Whether it’s coming back to work after a much-deserved vacation, returning to church after football season (come on), or jumping back onto your blog after a year (*raises hand), the first day back offers both a fresh start and a reminder that there is no such thing.
More Of The Same
This morning, I dropped my 7 year old daughter off for her first day back at school. I remember those days, three decades ago, when I would walk into school on the first day. Back then, I still had hope for a fresh start. New year, new teacher, new sneakers, new Trapper Keeper. But it didn’t take long before the new wore off and I was faced with the anxiety-causing realities of my past. Same school, same tests, same playground, same bullies. The truth is, the first day back is kind of a lie. It’s like New Year’s Day. We tell ourselves it’s something new, but it’s really more of the same. The page has turned, but the story hasn’t changed.
The Ghost Of Blog Posts Past
Here’s the thing, I came here to write a nice little post about the first day back at school – something uncontroversial and upbeat – a pleasant post to dip my toe back into blogging waters. But as soon as I logged in, I was faced with the reality of my past posts…and the comments section. It’s the Ghost of Blog Posts Past reminding me of who I am in the eyes of those who think they know who I am.
As someone with a little bit of a voice, but no real platform, I constantly battle with the realization that while I feel I have something to contribute to the conversation, I’m typically not invited into the conversation. Blogging, of course, gives us an opportunity to say what we want to say, even if nobody is listening. But sometimes people do listen – and that can be even scarier.
It’s been a little over 3 years since I wrote a blog post called “10 Things Missionaries Won’t Tell You,” AKA “The Post All Other Posts Will Be Measured By”. You see, when I dropped that post back on July 5th, 2014, I had no idea it would generate over 245,000 views and hundreds of comments. But now, every time I come here to write a little blog post, my admin page reminds of that one time…
Fifty-three thousand, five hundred eighty. That’s the number of views on my site in ONE DAY – the best ever. And that record will likely stand forever. I guess if I was a superhumanly secure person, I would hold it up as a monument to my success. But I am not superhuman. I am super human. So, instead of reminding me that my voice was huge on July 5th, 2014, that number usually reminds me of how small my voice actually is today, and on every day other than July 5th, 2014.
And if I’m honest, that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed away. If I’m willing to speak the truth to myself (and to the six of you that read this), I’m afraid of that number. I’m afraid of being insignificant. But I’m also afraid it might happen again. Because if it happens again, it could be a lot worse.
You see, on that “best ever” post, out of a couple hundred comments on two different sites (I had to mirror the post over onto another site to handle the traffic), less than 5% were negative. I was overwhelmed by the positive comments and the inquisative ones. But the negative ones hit me hard. Every one of them. I wanted to respond to each one. I wanted to defend myself. Sometimes I wanted to call that person names (I’m super human).
So, what happens if I share my point of view here, get a post to blow up, and don’t receive the kind of positive response I received with the “10 Things…” post? What if I get 95% negative comments instead of 5%? Is spontaneous combustion a thing? And can it happen when a guy becomes embarrassed/enraged reading comments on his blog? Do I want to subject myself to this kind of risk?
Yeah, it feels a little like that first day back at school. Anxiety-inducing? Yes. A little exciting? Sure. Necessary? Yeah, I think so. After all, I have some things to say. If you choose to listen, that’s on you. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fly under the radar of the playground bullies for a little while.