Watching Closely from Afar

Did you update your Facebook status? Did you comb your hair this morning? Did you check your teeth after you ate that salad?


Everyday, we put ourselves out there. Whether it’s a tweet, a YouTube link, a walk down the street, a blog post, or a water cooler conversation, we share a piece of ourselves with the world for its consideration: LOL. Seriously? Nice hair. Interesting. Idiot. We smile when someone “likes” the story we posted about the funny thing our cat did today and grin a bit wider when they reply with a “BWAHAHAHA!”

We may never admit (even to ourselves) that we care about what other people think of us, but it doesn’t change the fact that we would cringe if we got home, looked in the mirror and realized that we had been walking around the office with a sliver of Arugula stuck between our teeth. Lettuce trumps pride.

Judging and being judged is a daily reality. It’s also quick and often involuntary. That’s how we’re built. Observation and opinion are the little gifts nature has given us to organize the world and stay alive. Hot or cold. Good or bad. Sweet or hurry-and-spit-it-out-before-it-kills-you.

But accepting the inevitability of perception and judgment doesn’t mean I have to like it. Knowing that everything we share – a new haircut, a presentation, a debut novel – is subject to scrutiny (cursory or otherwise) can be a bit unnerving. I can’t begin to tell you the anxiety I have every time I click “publish” and send another blog post into the world to fend for itself.

My husband tries to make me feel better by saying that I only feel this way because it’s new. But just between you and me, I think that there are some things that simply never get old. Years of watching my children at the playground have proven this. My heart still lodges in my throat when they clamber up jungle gyms or swing from monkey bars. No matter how old they get, my kids always seem shiny, fragile, and new to me. I don’t want them to climb too high, to run too fast, or to slip down the slide backwards. But I have to. I have to bite my tongue and stay glued to the bench.

When my son tripped today, I did just that. I smiled at him, waved, and waited for him to pick himself up. His jeans got dirty, but he was okay. It got me thinking that perhaps, the way I watch my children play is how I should be with my blog and BEFORE EVER AFTER. Maybe that’s the only way I can survive this experience without a nervous breakdown. I should learn to sit on my hands and watch my words closely from afar - to set them free to be liked or unliked for what they are, to let them fall down and scrape their knees, to tell funny stories about cats with lunch between their teeth.

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  • Isabelle Gregson

    Hi Sam! What a lovely entry. That's the lovely thing about SW - in this community I always feel cushioned from the ugly and the negative! A friend of mine used to say: whatever you do/create is an achievement, what comes after is a bonus... so there's nothing to lose in putting ourselves 'out there'. Doesn't make it any easier but it keeps me out there, trying, experimenting and living life on my terms! xxx

  • Corinne Rodrigues

    This is great, Sam. Yes, a certain air of detachment might actually help us to be ourselves when we blog :)

  • Samantha Sotto Yambao

    Cathy - true.

    Rathi - I hear you. I think that what adds to the anxiety is the fact that feedback is practically instantaneous now. There are no filters to soften the blow.