Last year, I decided to start a blog. It was like falling into a rabbit hole – part dream, part nightmare. I was sucked into a new world populated by smiling avatars. I was writing and creating at a rapid pace. People left comments, asked questions, invited me to write guest articles and offered advice. They urged me to wade into revenue streams churned up by search engines. They spoke another language and many claimed to hold the secrets to navigating this new world. I desperately wanted to learn their language and know their secrets.
The newness of it all was invigorating. I soaked up every epic, brilliant and awe-inspiring link, article, video, pod cast, TED talk and e-book that I could click my mouse onto. I barely slept or ate – there just wasn’t enough time in the day or night to learn, create, comment, chat, tweet, like and check my stats. I began spending sixteen hours a day at my laptop, spiraling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.
I developed headaches and bouts of nausea that knocked me out for days and hampered my ability to keep up, please everyone, comment everywhere, produce, succeed, grow and read everything. I began writing about feeling inhuman and overwhelmed, but I kept pushing farther and digging deeper. What I didn’t realize was that I was already at the bottom. There was nowhere to go.
The great thing about hitting rock bottom is there’s only one direction to go from there – up. The light might have seemed far away, but it was there. And with just the slightest shift in perspective, the light hit my face and warmed my heart. The shift didn’t come in the form of some earth-shattering epiphany. It came when I let go. It came as a subtle and slow softening.
As I began to gently gather up those pieces of myself I’d left behind like, breadcrumbs along the way down, I started to emerge from the rabbit hole. Laughter, family, walks, friends, reading, resting, and feeding my body with good food gave me the strength I needed to keep climbing out. There’s nothing like a little self care.
It was a slow, sometimes shaky climb out, but because I was taking care of myself, my eyes were more open this time. I started to see the things I’d missed on the way down. The rabbit hole wasn’t all bad. Some of those smiling avatars were really wonderful people, some of their words resonated deeply in my soul, some of their ideas changed my life. The more I climbed upwards, the more I realized how much I’d grown and learned despite my free fall.
Starting a blog has not been a misstep. Instead, I see it as the beginning of an amazing journey. It is never a mistake to plunge into what you’re passionate about with zeal and enthusiasm. It is never wrong to get fired up. Overwhelming yourself can throw you off balance and rock you at your core, but in doing so you’re forced to learn how to reorder and regain your true self.
Following others blindly down the rabbit hole led me astray, but also allowed me to eventually find my own footholds and emerge whole and authentic. I now have a much truer understanding of how to navigate past the search engine optimizing and cool techno gizmo plug-ins to a place where a powerful sense of connection and intimacy lives. It lives there because many people are gathering there and sharing something of themselves there. It lives there because at our core we are all the same.
More than any other place, the crazy and vast blogosphere has shown me that our similarities are beyond borders. It has transported me far beyond the rabbit hole to a bus in Brazil where a woman sits reading my words on her hour long ride to work. She contacted me through my blog and told me she does this every Monday morning. My words keep her company. In that moment, I am on that bus, in Brazil, a continent away, and we are talking, woman to woman – human being to human being. Now that is no rabbit hole – that is wonderland.