ask for what you need and don’t be attached to the outcome

November 25, 2012 | 66 Comments

Stranger in a car give thumbs up

When I started blogging in 1998, it was anonymously. My readership was strangers with blogs. I wasn’t confident enough to be openly involved in something atypical, and most of the blogging community blogged anonymously, so I followed suit.

About two years in I told the least judgemental person I know: my friend Annelie. It was the right choice. She was excited for me and promptly joined in the fun. It was the perfect amount of satisfying.

Soon after, my friend Audra (a stranger then) contacted me to represent Alberta for her ezine of Canadian bloggers and issues. Marigold was a fantastic community of people. I learned so much about myself, life, feminism, fisting (I’m not kidding), and being a decent human.

I read Audra’s invitation email, ran down the stairs of our very first piece of real-estate (it was a townhouse in Calgary near Mount Royal College that cost $80,000!), and told Steve with my body more than my voice that someone besides him liked my writing. Somewhere in a rubbermaid, I still have the response I sent Audra that is the equivalent of a leg hump. I had been Discovered.

I started coming out to the people in my face-to-face life. Most weren’t super receptive. They either completely ignored my coming out emails, or responded as if I’d announced my freezies were freezer burnt. In the last six years, more and more people who know me in person leave comments, share my posts, or talk to me about my blog, but it’s rare and the majority of my fans continue to be strangers.

If I’m honest, I don’t totally get it. I mean—this is it, friends: this is my Thing, this is my Art. If you’re waiting for me to get legit published before you show up for me, it may never happen (except IT WILL). I sometimes wonder if I sold pottery or knitting or the most beautiful paper art, or if I still ran marathon distances, if the people in my life would show up in tangible ways? Ways that show me I’m supported and celebrated and making you proud?

You don’t read blogs? Okay, that’s fair. Can you read one entry every season or two? I doubt I’d come to all your art shows or every award you won, but I’d show up when it mattered. I’d cheer you on along the way. I’d come out to a couple of your races and drop you a note letting you know you inspire me.

I’d buy one of your paintings for my wall and another for a friend. I’d read your book and tweet about it. I’d tell everyone I know that you have a big brain and hook you up with others who might find your thesis topic fascinating. I’d attend your accordion recital. I’d attend your kid’s accordion recital.

I get blogs are nothing special these days. But, I am. To you, I am.

Do I need you to read this blog? No. Do I want to guilt you into talking to me about it, liking it, commenting here? No. Then why this post? I dunno! I wasn’t even going to write anything, but dammit I’m so close to successfully posting every day for November’s Nablopomo, so I sat down to write and here’s what came out.

Sometimes I don’t get why I’m being cheered on by strangers more than anyone else. It seems bizarre to me. Awesome and bizarre. When you mentioned you don’t read my blog or you might some day, maybe I’ve lied a little to make the space comfortable by saying, “Phhhbbbbbbtttt. Doesn’t matter.” When what I really want to stay is, “Well, check in every once in a while, because it’s where I really fucking shine, you guys.

It where I make the most sense and feel the most in my skin and show up in ways my scrambled brain won’t let me in person. It’s where you can keep up with my heart and find out things I don’t even know I’m thinking. And if you do pop in every once in a while, let me know! It’s sunshine in Vancouver to read even one syllable marking your presence.”

Yeah. Abso-fucking-lutely I need to work on doing my art for me. And I am working on it. And some day (soon, I hope) it won’t matter if you show up or not (unless by then I’m selling something, in which case I really need you to show up—with cash), because some day I’m going to be my biggest fan. But, for now, I still need you.

I’m sorry I’ve been lying to you. I wanted to be okay with it, because that’s what I thought healthy looked like. I was wrong. Healthy is telling you what I want, and giving you a chance to say, “Yeah, I can show up for you like that.” Or, “I hear you Shannon and I love you, but that’s not something I can do.” Then it’s my turn to trust.

Don’t fill my comments section with apologies or angry words; that will get awkward for all of us. How about exclamation marks and hearticons? If you continue to say nothing—I still love you and you still love me and we will remain in love. We will.

Steve said only about 10% of people actively participate on the internet. So… you’re normal!


Please join the Truthfully Facebook page. I’m funny there. 

Joining up with Yeah Write for BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo. No guilt. Just fun. Also linking up with Yeah Write’s Open Grid this week.

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Join the conversation

  • Melanie

    :)

    • Shannon

      xo times a million, Mel.

  • Natasha

    I read everything. And you know this when I correct your typos. LOVE. ;-P

    • Shannon

      Gad! You missed so many things this time! I love you.

  • Jodi

    ❤ 🌟 ❤ 🌟 ❤

    • Shannon

      Rodi. <3

  • http://www.elainealec.com Elaine Alec

    I love your writing. I absolutely love it. I don’t read every one, I read one at least every second week… and I love that i read this one. I’ve known some pretty amazing people and have done some pretty amazing things myself.. and you know that my biggest fans are people I barely know. I’m surrounded by a community of friends and family that I’ve grown up with my entire life.. and when things happen.. they are rarely there when it counts.. we’ve hosted events where kids have hitchhiked in the cold for 10 hours to be a part of something we’re doing… and pay on top of that.. yet when we give away 20 free tickets to our friends and family to come check us out.. maybe two will show up.

    I’m thinking.. they think I should know how awesome I am.. or that maybe I’m good. Any way. I didn’t feel like leaving <3 and :) I just wanted a reason to write about myself.. ha ha.. and tell you again.. how awesome you are :)

    • Shannon

      I love that you shared that. Amazing! I think you hit the nail on the head, Elaine. Like… they already DO think we’re amazing and just assume we know, too. I absolutely know it’s not malicious. I love your brain. Thank you.

  • http://splatospheric.blogspot.com Mizyank

    These darned Brits had me in a red wine and meat coma from which I have emerged ever so briefly to check out your blog. (I also had to make sure my sis was hitting “publish” every day as instructed, but that was secondary…) This post nails it, as your posts are wont to do.

    • Shannon

      I like to think you were still half-cut when you wrote this. I sure like you. And your Brits.

  • Cindy

    I Love you!!!

    • Shannon

      I feel that every sing day. I love you, too.

  • Patrick Wilson

    I know I am not the only Wilson who reads your blog. :)

    • Shannon

      Ha! I had no idea you were here. Yay!

  • http://just-mum.blogspot.com/ Jessica @ Just a Mum?

    Well, we’ve never actually “met”-met… but I’m here a lot. :]

    • Shannon

      I love that you’re here. Thanks for that.

  • http://www.bigloveforgirlsatrisk.wordpress.com/ Kim

    I call this the “you’re always more credible / famous / appreciated 50 miles from home” phenomenon…

    I’ve seen this play out in my work world and in my own world; with music, with writing and with speaking. I’ve seen it in my business circles. I’ve been to events where a local business person spoke about goal setting and success and people practically eyerolled and ‘pfffshawwed’ under their breath from their seats. (sounds weird, but I swear it’s true!)

    I also experienced this from my Real Woman magazine/blog days. I know my family ‘gets’ that my need to write is an inherent part of me. But IF they read it, they don’t ‘gush’ over it like other people have done or do. And the CLOSER they are to me, the less they seem to notice or care. I don’t know why. And I’ve stopped questioning it.

    It just doesn’t matter to me anymore – because MY writing, MY art, MY creation doesn’t depend on their interest or recognition or approval.

    It’s not for attention,
    or affirmation,
    or reassurance,
    or to be sure that I’m understood.

    I write because I am COMPELLED to write.
    And that’s good enough for me.

    AAAAAaaaannnnnd, I come back to read your stuff for numerous reasons …
    because we share history, and things in common, and our girls love each other, and I want you to be happy and healthy and because you write well, and because you like to sort things out in words and because i love you and because I’m part of the 10% … and probably some reasons not even listed here.

    xoK

    • Shannon

      “It’s not for attention,
      or affirmation,
      or reassurance,
      or to be sure that I’m understood.”

      Well, clearly that’s the drink talking.

      I love you, friend.

    • http://inthetesseract.blogspot.ca Azara

      I went the other direction – now I’m anonymous since the people I wanted to read my blog weren’t reading it anyway and I was uncomfortable with the people who were. And this:

      “It just doesn’t matter to me anymore – because MY writing, MY art, MY creation doesn’t depend on their interest or recognition or approval.

      It’s not for attention,
      or affirmation,
      or reassurance,
      or to be sure that I’m understood.

      I write because I am COMPELLED to write.
      And that’s good enough for me.”

      • Shannon

        Yes! Isn’t Kim great. :)

  • http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com Annabelle

    I love you and read everything you write, even if I don’t always comment!

    • Shannon

      Nobody needs to comment all the time. (Or at all.) I love what you have to say when you say it. Your words are meaningful to me because you’re not just talking for the sake of talking. So, when you do talk, I listen.

      Thanks for being here. It’s surreal to me that someone with your talent is here. You’re gonna be a big fucking deal some day, Anne.

  • Karen

    I considered myself lucky to be in the category of friend even if we are in the minority I do we believe we are strong in our love and affection for you.

    • Shannon

      You are most definitely and forever in the category of friend. I am lucky to know friendship like yours, Karen.

  • Jocelyn

    SING IT SISTER.

    • Shannon

      Hee. You’re cute.

  • http://www.chillmamachill.com Babe_Chilla

    Oh but hunny, it’s just a silly blog, it’s not like REAL REAL writing, Blogs are for teenagers girls and narcissists. No ACTUAL writer writes a blog, blogs are all “this is what I had for dinner” and “oh the baby pooped” or you know, people thinking they have real problems when they don’t….

    Oh sorry, that’s just what I hear most of the time.

    People are dumb and I am happy to keep the active internet small. 10% of people is probably all that are worth it anyway ;)

    • Shannon

      Oh man! Good point. With all the stupidity on the internet, could you IMAGINE if more than 10% participated. Shudder.

      I’ve not hear those mean words you have, but I’ve picked up the sentiment indirectly about blogging in general. It’s the same with anything though; I used to feel pissed off about all the fundamental Christians ruining my liberal reputation.

      I like you, lady.

  • Ryan

    BOOM. I hear ya. I tell people it doesn’t matter if they come to my stuff, and mostly it doesn’t, kinda but a little bit it does. I never get super bent out of shape about it, but I do sort of go “Aw man! Aw well!” Kick a little pebble. I get it.

    • Shannon

      This is it, Ryan! Perfect capture. Just kind of a dull bummed-out feeling.

      I wish I could see one of your stuffs. Wait… what?

  • Karen

    I have only just rediscovered u! I have go e back and read every blog…. I love them. You often say what I would like to but am usually to scared to. I have only ever replied to one other post. Why? I think this may be your question. Again forme it’s fear. Fear of what I’m not totally sure. I can tell you I am not part of the ten percent. Crap now you know the truth, I’m just not that cool:)
    I show up every time you write. After today all I can promise is a “:)” every once in a while BUT more than that I can promise you have a forever reader! A forever friend<3. Thanks for being so honest. You are currently being honest for both of us.
    P.S. (is this even allowed)
    I am currently in love with you! Don't tell my husband ;)

    • Shannon

      Since we’ve reconnected you’ve commented twice, Karen. That’s a lot, lady!

      HONESTY ON THE HOUSE.

      xo

  • http://www.ispeakcanadian.com Sarah

    I can’t like this hard enough. When I was moving ACROSS THE DANG COUNTRY, strangers (read Twitter followers) cared more than my actual friends. And strangers and blog readers read my blog. And my mom. And mother in law, but I wonder if half my wedding party has ever set foot there. Anyway, hi. I’m here, and I’m reading. Not every day :) but you’re in my RSS.

    • Shannon

      I sure like you, lady. Thanks for getting me. xo

  • A. Mary Murphy

    Shannon, how did I not know you do this? How did you not tell me how enormously you’ve grown in confidence? I’m delighted for you! How to burst out.

    • Shannon

      Squee! So glad we’ve reconnected, Mary!

  • http://www.snapsandbits.com Stacie @ Snaps and Bits

    Wow, I’m impressed you’ve been blogging since 1998! I don’t think I even knew what it was back then. Some of my “face to face” friends read, but most of the comments come from other bloggers. I’m not sure the nonblogging folks get how much we love comments!

    • Shannon

      Comments are crack. :)

  • http://samanthabmerel.blogspot.com Samantha Brinn Merel

    I have been blogging for about a year now, and most of my comments come from people who were complete strangers to me before I started sharing my thoughts with the internet. I kind of like it though, because it has put me in touch with an entire community of amazing and interesting people I never would have known otherwise.

    • Shannon

      I love the community blogging has the potential to create, too, Samantha. Surreal.

  • http://finallymom.blogspot.com christina

    :) i started blogging in 2000 and am currently on my 5th blog? all the others were very anonymous- never posted real pictures, never revealed any real names or locations. my current blog is the most open i’ve ever been- pictures, locations. but, i still don’t really tell people IRL about it. i have some friends and a cousin and my husband who know about the blog, but that’s it. if others find out, okay. but i just don’t want to have to wonder if they’re reading. or worry. or something.

    • Shannon

      Fifth! Let me think… I guess this is my fourth! What made you leave anonymous land?

  • http://michiganleftblog.com/ Kathleen

    I totally get this. I feel like when I refer to my blogger friends, my real-life friends think it’s a little cyber-nerdy and pathetic. Whatever. They just don’t get how wonderful it is to be embraced by a community of other people who do what you love to do and do it well.

    P.S. I may be a stranger, but I think you are just awesome!!!!!!!! ♥ ❤ ❥ ♥ ❤ ❥

    • Shannon

      The community of strangers cheering you on is really so lovely. It’s the best parts of humanity. Thanks for your kind words and all those hearts! xo

  • http://restraintunfettered.wordpress.com Emma

    I’ve been blogging for all of one month. I started believing I was doing it for me, and I didn’t care if anyone read it. Now that people comment that has gone out the window. I’m glad people read it. I’m glad they tell me how they feel about it. So I already get this. I love your living out loud style. This was great to read. It was encouraging.

    • Shannon

      Of course we do it for ourselves, but if it was just for us, we’d write in a notebook tucked away in our night stand.

  • http://www.iasoupmama.com IASoupMama

    I blogged anonymously for the first 15 months that I wrote. i shared the blog with only a handful of people, none of whom I knew in real life. They were mommy friends I met on parenting message boards. These internet mamas have got my back, fo sho.

    So when I came out as a blogger, it was not surprising at all to me that the people who comment the most are people I’ve met online. And the people who read my blog in real life rarely let me know. Aside from my mother-in-law, who is my biggest fan. I actually print a copy of mall of my posts at the end of the year to give to my dad because he wants to read, but hates reading on the computer — so funny!

    I’m A-OK fine with how I represent my life on the interwebs and with whom I interact. It’s all goodness — the creamy center of a truffle.

    • Shannon

      What made you go from anonymous to not? That’s so sweet about your MIL and your dad. I love it. The online community can be so rewarding, the creamy center; I agree.

  • http://www.closefamilies.wordpress.com Laura

    I definitely have more strangers than friends or family who comment and “cheer me on” as well. I’m thankful to say that my mom reads a post here and there (and sent an e-mail that I am saving forever saying how she thought I’m “SUCH a good writer!” GRIN!), and a couple of my closest friends and sister-in-law read nearly every post and comment on Facebook about them. I definitely know what you mean though! This is my “thing” apart from being a mom and wife (and keeps me in part from being JUST a mom and a wife) and some people just don’t really get that. I enjoyed your words! <3

    • Shannon

      A lot of my friends comment on FB, too. That’s adorable that your SIL is a diehard fan. I love that. And keep that email from mom. FRAME IT. Amazing. <3

  • http://livingoffscript.com Bee

    I’m the opposite. I used to blog openly, but this new blog I have has been anonymous. Part paranoia, part I want to be able to rant about my family without hurting their feelings.

    • Shannon

      Yes, the blogging non-anonymously thing does put a damper on talking about all the nooks and crannies. It’s a good exercise for me though; I’m suffer from over-sharing. Or, my family does, rather. :)

  • http://www.stillhatepickles.com kiki

    Amen! I’ve often been so confused when someone I know (who doesn’t read my blog) tells me their sister is flying into town and has to meet me because she’s an avid blog follower. Confused because often my own family doesn’t read it. I’m with you–I get not everyone likes blogs. But I think some of them also don’t get why it matters. Maybe we need to tell them? Or…just enjoy the followers we know and don’t KNOW.

    • Shannon

      This was my attempt to tell them. Or to feel out telling them. Doesn’t affect those who don’t read, I guess. It is a weird phenomenon. I wanna hear more about the sister who had to meet you! Amazing.

  • Peach

    I am so late to this party. But dammit, Shannon, get out of my brain. There we go with our parallel lives again. My meltdowns last week? BAM – same shit. My attempt at telling my friends it mattered to me that they SHOW UP – whether in my blog or in my life. It sucked and I cried. I hate crying. But girl, you know I’m here and I get you. I completely, 200% get you on this post, that’s for damn sure. Well said and a-fucking-men. xox <3 you.

    • Shannon

      You’re bad at math, but I love you anyway. I’m so proud of you for asking your friends to show up and telling them what that looks like for you. Brave and important work, lady! The alternative is we have them thinking everything is okay and waste our energy resenting them. It’s really inconvenient that I cannot hug you as often as I’d like to. Do something about that?

  • http://itsdilovely.com Dilovely

    This is awesome. You are one gutsy gal. I’m glad to see some hearts and smiles up there – and love in the form of mini-essays too!

    • Shannon

      Mini essays? Thanks for saying I’m gutsy. I am, hey?!

  • Angela Ryan

    I loved the honesty here. My parents and siblings do not read my blog. Sometimes I wish they did. But, I only started a blog this year after being encouraged to do so by my best friend. She never leaves comments …. ever …. but I know she’s reading and I know she gets me. I hope you’re still willing to accept stranger blog love because I know you’ll keep getting that even if the others tell you “Shannon, that’s not something I can do for you.” :) Smiley face. <3 Heart icon. !!!

    • Shannon

      Oh, the stranger love is NOT to be minimized. It’s the most wonderful part of blogging. A side effect that always leaves me dizzy. I love you people!

  • http://tri-ingtobeathletic.com TriGirl

    To be honest I’m more comfortable with my bloggy peeps commenting on my blog than the IRL ones. I am more myself online than I am with most people in person, and I’m *funny* online! Not that I’m a stick in the mud offline, but I get awkward when people I only sort of know, or family, tell me they read my blog. I never know what to say.

    • Shannon

      Say, “I’m totally awesome, hey!” :)

      Yes, I get that awkwardness. I felt it at first, too. After 14 years I’m mostly over it. That’s great that you know you prefer onliners to read your blog. A good thing to know about yourself!

  • Lisa

    I’m two days late to the party, again, I see. What.else.is.new.

    Here’s my thoughts….I remember reading your old (totally uncensored) blog. I don’t even know how I ended up there but I spent an entire evening (we’re talking 4-5 hours) devouring your words. I’ll be honest, I was shocked. And sad. Really, really sad. Because in those 4-5 hours I realized how little I had truly known you even though we had been roommates. And I realized that a lot had changed with you in those few years. And most importantly, that we had SO much more in common than I would ever have guessed and that we could have been AMAZING friends for each other.

    I, for one, was truly excited when you started to blog here. While we have vastly different beliefs about certain things, we still have ridiculous amounts of things in common and reading your heart poured out here is joy to me.

    You are crazy amounts of loveable. I only wish I had discovered the real you earlier. :(

    • Shannon

      Such fun memories, rooming together. I wish we had been closer, too, Lisa. I don’t even think I knew who I was then, so don’t you go feeling bad about that. It’s fun to hear you spent time reading my blog. I used to do that when I found new, lovely blogs–devour everything. I’d never considered being on the receiving end of that. Thank for telling me.

      I’m glad your here… and out there. xo

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