When I was a little girl, I had two major obsessions in life:
mainly adventure stories of the Famous Five/ Secret Seven / “Lets all have a ripping adventure, ideally involving smugglers and some kind of faithful animal companion” variety.
Or, as I thought, of them, “OMGPONIES!!!!!!”
Now, I was far from being the only 8-year-old child in the world to have these interests. In fact, I wasn’t even the only child in MY CLASS to have them. They’re not even remotely out of the ordinary, but while I had friends who were into books, and friends who loved the OMGPONIES – and even some friends who were into BOTH of those things, imagine! – I didn’t have any friends who were interested in them to quite the same extent I was.
I was fairly obsessive as a child, you see. If I was into something, I’d be REALLY into it, and it would be pretty much all I’d think about. My friends, on the other hand, had other interests, too, so while they’d gently humour my atttempts to re-enact ‘Five On a Treasure Island’ for the seventeenth time (as long as I got to be George, not Anne. I hated that mealy-mouthed little ninny), and join with me in ranking all the ponies in the riding stables on a scale of 1-10, there would always come a time – long before I was ready for it – where they’d tell me to put down the Observer’s Book of Horses, for God’s sake, and do something else for a change.
I didn’t want to, though. My mum often talks about how, even as a child, I would never do things I wasn’t interested in just for the sake of “joining in”. I couldn’t see the point in that, so while I wasn’t lonely, I was often alone – or as alone as you can be with a fresh new pile of library books to get through – and I was very aware of being the odd one out: of being the only one who didn’t want to play that game everyone was obsessed with, and who often wondered why the characters in the books she read seemed to be the only people she could truly relate to.
As I got older, that trend continued. In high school, I was really into music – mostly what was termed “alternative rock” at the time. It was everything to me. I’d write the lyrics to my favourite songs on the backs of my exercise books, knowing that the people who wrote those words were the only ones who, like, totally understood me. Actually, there were probably millions of people in the world who would have understood me. The problem was, I didn’t actually know any of them. Up and down the country, I know there were thousands of other teenagers anxiously waiting for that new album to be released, rushing out to buy New Musical Express the second it came out, and feeling lost and alone, and totally misunderstood, until the moment that one song started to play, and that song explained everything. Thousands of them.
In my small town, though? There were maybe three. And I was too shy to speak to two of them. So I went to concerts alone, and endured the gentle teasing of friends who just didn’t “get” me, and I thought I was the only person to have felt that way, in the history of forever.
I still do, sometimes. Less so, now that I’m older, and I don’t want to imply that this is a big, huge deal, or anything like that. But as a teenager, it was why I kept journals, and as an adult, it’s why I blog: I have this overwhelming need to explain myself all the time – even if it’s the explanation of why I chose that dress, or that piece of furniture, or something equally insignificant – and, more than that, to know that there’s someone out there who understands.
It’s still hard to find that, if I’m honest. Nowadays, for instance, I’ve reached that stage in my life where everyone around me is starting families. I’m not quite the ONLY one who doesn’t have children… but almost. And I can see a day coming, in the not-too-distant future, when I WILL be. It’s a strange feeling, being the only one in a certain situation. I should stress here that no one ever does or says anything to make me feel in any way left out, but it’s hard not to feel like the odd one out sometimes. I feel a bit like everyone around me has moved on, into a different stage of their lives, and I’m left behind, inhabiting a totally different world, and inhabiting it all by myself.
These days, my main obsession is with work, i.e., blogging. Again, there are millions of full-time bloggers in the world: millions. I don’t know any of them, though – other than online, obviously. In “real life”, this is the one situation in which I literally AM the only person I know who does this for a living – or AT ALL, actually. Every day on Bloglovin’ I seem to see yet another person announcing they’re quitting their job to blog full time: in real life, I still frequently have to explain what a “blog” actually is, and get either blank looks, or people thinking I’m just a complete narcissist for posting pictures of myself of the internet.
It’s not that big a deal, in the great scheme of things (And I’m not trying to say here that I want to meet up with other bloggers – I’m way too awkward for the very thought of that to not make me hyperventilate…): there are lots of people who have jobs that are a bit unusual, or interests that aren’t shared by the people around them, and I don’t think that someone must have exactly the same job or like AAAALLL the same things as me for me to be able to relate to them. Not at all. Every so often, though, I get to feeling that it would be nice to have someone I could sit down with over a cup of coffee – or, actually, let’s make that a glass of wine – and who would just GET IT. Someone who would say, “Dude, I KNOW: I feel exactly the same!”
And this is why I blog – and why I write.
Because I know you’re out there: all you people who once loved the Famous Five, and dreamt of joining the Pony Club. All you people who would recognise the lyrics to some obscure 90s indie rock song, and would sing along: off-key and out of time, but word-perfect all the same. All you people who know what it’s like to sometimes feel like the only one in the world who is just like you – but who’s wrong about that, because I am like you, too, and this is why I blog. We may not live in the same small town, and we’ll probably never meet – which is OK, because we’re like us, and we wouldn’t know what to say, anyway – but we’re all here, on this great big internet, and doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone?
And that’s why I blog.