When I was a little girl, I had two major obsessions in life:

01. BOOKS – 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.

02. PONIES. 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.

This is why I blog

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.

Why do you blog?

 

49 Comments
  1. I don’t blog but am mildly obsessed with your blog (in a nice way, not a weird stalker way) because all that you have written is me. You talk about feeling awkward or doing certain things and I’m right there along with you. I particularly loved your introvert post, I was never able to put words on how I felt and you did it so much better than I ever could.

    I have a small child and work in an office so I am in a different situation to you but I feel like I missed the day explaining how to “fit in” like everyone else and not work myself up into tongue tied embarrassed silence every time I meet someone new, I really feel like I missed the handbook that everyone else got.

    Also, was (am still) totally obsessed with the Famous Five and ponies.

    1. OK, so this comment seriously just made my day – you’re basically the person I have in my mind when I write this stuff: I can’t tell you how awesome it is to know there are people who actually “get” it 🙂 As for not fitting in, this is basically the story of my life. My mum said to me a few weeks ago that she sometimes wishes she could just like the same things everyone else likes, because it would be so much easier – I feel like that aaalll the time, but the great thing about the internet is that it helps you realise that you’re not the only one who feels that way!

  2. I found this incredibly touching, maybe because I have felt that way myself. Your blog is always a pleasure to read.

  3. I loved this. Blogging is definitely becoming a huge part of my life now because like you my ‘real life’ friends just don’t get excited about the same things as me. I’m too young for all my friends to be having kids but they are all mostly concerned now about buying houses or cars and I spend most of my money on cake. It’s always good to know you aren’t actually that weird and other people feel the same way 🙂

  4. I think my reasons for blogging are pretty similar to yours – although I’ll throw in the group of people I don’t have in my real life are the vintage style lovers and I’ve loved speaking to like-minded souls from around the world about decent clothes 🙂 I was totally into ripping book adventures too… And also, The Magic Faraway Tree. Couldn’t get enough. Not ponies, though… but Puppy in My Pockets… that was a whole other story. I think I was just as obsessive about things as you (I know my mum would agree with that – she’s spent years trying to convince me I’ve got ‘Aspergic habits’). Online blog friends forever 😉

  5. I can relate to many things here, not the ponies though – never really liked them. I think your blog stood out to me so much more than any other for that very reason, the relatability to it. Your wonderful sense of style being a great bonus, and you’ve become somewhat of a fashion inspiration to me. But that aside, I blog because I very much enjoy putting my thoughts down, and I really like to write. I also love the way it helps me with my not so creative side. I’ve been doing it for a few years, and I can’t see myself quitting, ever. I just like it so much.

    1. To be honest, it wasn’t so much about ponies specifically as about that feeling of being the “odd one out” or not being able to relate to the people around you… I love that blogging lets me feel a bit less like that!

  6. I agree, Anne is a little whiny bitch and I never liked her. But back to the topic, I used to blog because I had things to say and pictures and experiences to share. I had some personal problems going on and I decided to stop for a while and then ended up deleting it as everything escalated. I’ve lost my blog mojo, maybe one day I’ll start again with new focus and something actual than random meandering like I used to do. I love sharing things in common with people online because I don’t get that in real life

    1. “I agree, Anne is a little whiny bitch…”

      Well, those are your words, not mine. I didn’t like the character, but I’m not angry enough at a kid’s book to call her a “bitch”.

  7. I sewed my own clothes and played the violin in high school, so I completely understand the not fitting in thing! 🙂 Blogs are such a great way for everyone to find their tribe.

  8. I can’t say why I blog. I’ve long fallen out of the habit and retreated my journal behind closed doors because of omgparanoia. But I am glad it’s why YOU blog. I don’t read many anymore, but I always come back here. (Also, to sound very much like a stalker, I tend to reread as well.) There’s something so inherently… realistic… about the way you present your life and your take on things, I believe because of the very reasons outlined here. I love your honestly. I guess I should say it more as well. Curses on quiet blog readers.

    The thing about the kids, yup. I’m childfree, but sometimes I get these moments where I think: “… and then what?”. I’ve got a husband, a job, cats I adore… but it’s like I can’t quite figure out the next life stage for myself, because for everyone else that’s when the kids come in. It’s something I’ve not quite figured out yet, so it really resonated with me to read your take on it. It is good to know you’re not alone.

    1. Aww, I’m so happy to know you’re still reading! And yeah, the kids thing is a strange one – I just kind of feel like everyone around me is suddenly a grown-up, while I still feel about 14, and I guess it makes me feel a bit lost sometimes. Meanwhile I find I most relate to 20-year-old bloggers, who probably wouldn’t want to know me in real life because they’d think I was old enough to be their mother – I’m kinda worried that I’m just going to stick at this mental age, and before I know it, my friend’s children will ALSO have outgrown me!

  9. I loved this post so much.
    I often feel that I have a hard time understanding how ‘other’ people works. Like why can’t everyone get super exited about cupcakes with pretty frosting.
    I hope that I one day will have the energy to take my blogging more seriously. I want to write the kind of blog me myself want to read. Sounds a bit geeky, but still.

    1. Noooo, that’s a GREAT basis for a blog, you should definitely aim for that! And I totally get it – trying to understand how ‘The Others’ work is my life’s work!

  10. I found your blog through a link to your Goodie Bowl story and I was instantly captivated – it was like someone had dug out my brain and written something pretending to be me! Not just your voice, but even the overt sentimentality about a bowl (I’ve been there!) I lost an hour or more as I clicked through more and more of your posts, and found even more similarities (I too love a capri pant) Of course there are differences too, but I’ve found that no matter what you’re posting about, I enjoy it. (I don’t run a blog, but still enjoy your “Blog” series because I’ve never seen such transparency in any of the blogs I read – you really draw back the veil.) Basically, all rambling aside, for myriad reasons, I’m so pleased that you DO blog. Please stay obsessed, and know that though we introverted readers lurk out here, nervous of commenting, we’re here, loving what you do, and feeling like you’re writing just for us.

    1. Oh, but I AM writing just for you – I’m just happy to know that you all actually exist, and that I’m not just imagining you all! (Also happier than I really should be to know someone out there understands the sentimentality that can be attached to a bowl. I mean, Terry was all, “But it;s just a bowl?” He knows NOTHING.)

  11. Growing up, I often chose to be alone (not lonely) than join in activities with other kids I didnt enjoy. The types of books I enjoyed were the solitary character, stranded, figuring out life on their own (an alaskan girl in the wilderness, a boy lost on the prairie, a girl on an island…) . I often still feel like my interests dont align with most people, but as i get older I think Im more comfortable with that. I would still never attend a concert alone though! Thats pretty plucky of you!

    1. I wish I could say I felt plucky, or that I went along and made a new bunch of friends there, but nope – I sat in the sun for about 8 hours waiting for them to come on, got a sunburn on my scalp, and didn’t speak to a single other person, even although I DID have one very big thing in common with them all. I did enjoy it, though 🙂

  12. I really like this post. I don’t think I think the same way as you about a lot of the ‘odd one out’ and ‘obsessive’ stuff (that was probably more my brother) but I really appreciate the honesty in this post and fact that all your posts are the ‘real you’ written down with thoughts, questions and views on pretty dresses and shoes!
    My husband is currently writing a blog again (about music related stuff) and I keep hoping he will read your Blog Guides, but I think he might read them when I am not looking 🙂 haha!

  13. I love the Famous Five and still do! Trying to get my 8 year old to read them now! I also went through the NME/Melody Maker stage none of my friends had a clue about half of the bands I loved. they still don’t!

    I blog because I love books (I am a book blog! Lol!) and I love attempting to being social and sharing my love with others plus I do enjoy writing, I may not be good at it but I do enjoy a good ramble!

    Great Post!

  14. Lovely post. As others have said, I also identify with lots of things that you say / think / do. To be honest though, I’m sure I’d still really enjoy reading your blog even if our lives and viewpoints were poles apart because your posts are always so interesting and witty, regardless of subject matter. The fact that I can relate to much of what you write is simply the cherry on the top!

    On the subject of being of a certain age without kids (snap!) I’d like to know where all the decent bloggers aged 30-40ish+ and who don’t have kids are hiding. I have nothing against parenthood-oriented posts (and I follow lots of fab blogs which occasionally feature aspects of parenthood amongst other things) but in the spirit of not feeling the odd one out I really love to discover great blogs written from a ‘no-child-zone’ perspective, for want of a better word (and failing miserably!)

    1. I think it’s probably hard for people to write about, because other people get SO defensive about it, and seem to view your not having kids as some kind of attack on their decision to have them – it’s just one of those subjects that always seems to cause controversy! I know what you mean, though – I’d love to read more blogs like that too, although I must admit, I do enjoy blogs by parents, too: it’s something I have such a hard time even imagining myself doing that I find it all quite fascinating!

  15. I relate to this so strongly. I was also quite the loner when I was a kid, and books were often a refuge when people would pick on me or ignore me. Reading about characters who were strong and fierce and different, and like me, misunderstood, made me feel so much better about myself. I still fall into that a little bit sometimes, retreating into a book when I just don’t want to think about my problems, although I’m better about enjoying the real world these days.
    I was thinking about why I blog not that long ago. Part of it is about expressing myself creatively, but I will admit that I also enjoy the validation. It’s just really nice to have someone tell you that you’re pretty, and that your outfits look cool and your pictures look good.

    1. The “retreating into a book” thing is SO me – my mum always says that books are her solace, and I must have picked that up from her, because it’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to make me feel better. I will even admit to occasionally re-reading some of my old childhood favourites if I’m feeling really down about something – there’s something very comforting about them somehow!

  16. Dear Amber, this post is beautiful, and has touched me deep inside. I love your blog because you have such a wonderful way to express yourself, and you are funny, don’t take yourself too terribly seriouly and most of all – you are genuine.
    When I started blogging I didn’t really know why, it was on a whim. As it turns out, it was the best whim of all times, because as I was getting more into it, I discovered the main reason that made me keep coming back: The feeling of not being alone. Of being understood. What a revelation!
    I, too, don’t have kids, and don’t want any. I am 35, so everybody around me is pregnant or has little kids. My husband is 25 years older, which in itself is not that common – he also has 4 daughters from his first marriage, which technically makes me their stepmom, even though realistically I’m more of a friend. I often feel different from the girls around me, which used to make me feel like an alien – but through blogging I have found like-minded people, or people that are different as well, just in a different way.

    I love, love, love this post – I wish we could have that glass of wine together, awkwardness be damned. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I totally know what you mean about feeling like an alien sometimes – I feel like I’ve gone through my whole life never quite fitting in, and it’s such a relief to know that I DO actually fit in somewhere, just maybe not in the places I’ve been looking. It’s a great feeling to know you’re actually NOT the only one to feel that way!

  17. This post of yours is the reason I read blogs. I have never been articulate enough with words to express how I feel, so thank you for writing it down exactly as it is for me! I would hate to meet you in real life (far too awkward, even though I’m sure you’re just as nice in person as on your blog!), so that is why I love being able to ‘talk’ to you through the blog. I was a bookaholic as a kid (OK, still am). I would read literally anything I could get my hands on. I wasn’t so much into Famous Five, I loved Anne of Green Gables. Trouble was, I thought it was cool to talk like her and ended up getting some very funny looks! Growing up as an undiagnosed person with Asperger’s, I always felt like the odd one out, like I was missing something that everyone else seemed to have been born knowing. It really was a bit lonely, I don’t make friends easily. Now my ‘internet friends’ I count as some of my best friends, it’s so much easier (for me) to connect with people over the internet. Thank you again for being so honest about yourself!

    1. Haha, I did that too! The Enid Blyton books I had were all the original versions, which I think were published in the 1940s or something like that, so the language was pretty old fashioned… I read them obsessively, and would go to school and be all, “What ho, old chap! Absolutely ripping time we had yesterday!” Then I’d wonder why people thought I was weird…

  18. I completely agree with (well, all the points really) you about how it feels when nobody in your real life understands your job when you’re a blogger. It feels like people just think it’s not real and/or don’t even ask about your work because they don’t get it. Only 2 of my friends even ask how work is going and pretend to understand, the rest of them just don’t even know how to approach it. Haha. I feel like this is getting easier as it becomes a little bit more mainstream, but it is still very weird!

    1. It’s SO weird – I particularly hate it when I’m having my hair done, or whatever and they ask what I do for a living… I’ve tried just saying “I’m a writer” or something, but then they always ask who I write for, and I have to go, “Er, myself.” Awkward.

  19. I’d write about why I blog but you just did it for me. The Famous Five, Chalet School (because my sister was into horses so I couldn’t be), 90s indie rock nobody-understands-me phase… hello! Part of me is glad the internet didn’t exist back then so there’s no record of my self-absorbed angst but part of me is sad that we didn’t all have the chance to find each other back when we felt so alone.

    1. Ooh, I’d forgotten about the Chalet School – I used to love those books! Also Mallory Towers at the St Clare’s series – I spent my childhood feeling equal parts resentment that my parents hadn’t sent me to boarding school, and relief because I’d have lasted about 5 minutes with all of the “jolly hockey sticks, let’s have a quick game of lacrosse before prep!” stuff!

      And yes, on the one hand I’m SO glad I didn’t have an internet to spill all my angst onto as a teenager, but I also feel a bit sad that I didn’t get to find my “tribe” earlier. I remember when we first got the internet I joined a bunch of Usenet groups (because yes, it was THAT long ago) for my favourite bands, and felt a like I’d missed out on knowing all these people who were as obsessed with those bands as I was!

  20. I relate to much of what you write, though we didn’t have Famous Five in America I was very into Nancy Drew, Choose Your Own Adventure, ponies (Black Beauty…and unicorns,oh how I loved them!). And I moved when I was 13 to a new state where miraculously I met like minded musical friends, though only two nights ago I got to see my favourite band ever for the first time, a band who I missed seeing the first time around because nobody I knew liked them so I was afraid to go to a concert by myself at 15/16(lesson learned and since then I’ve gone to several by myself). Anyway I found myself seeing them finally over 20 yrs later in London, not my homeland, to look around a crowd of a few thousand other people singing all the words to songs I felt like only I knew as a teen, kind of crazy and wonderful!

    It’s heartening to read your thoughts on blogging. It is a strange and vast thing to me, the blogosphere, I don’t think I quite grasp most of it! The balance you strike with your blog is unique, I have had similar thoughts about being scared to meet web friends in person, I think it’s natural! 🙂

    1. It’s such an amazing feeling hearing hundreds of people all singing along to something you previously thought only you even knew – I remember that happening at a concert last year, and it made me want to cry: music is awesome like that!

  21. I am 37, 5 years ago I left everything I had (which was considerable) and moved to another country to begin a new life. I lost so many things in the process, some of those things I hadn’t event notice I had… Additionally I spent some of my savings, suffered a lot of career disasters (which I still am) and unlike my age group I don’t have kids. NONE of the people I know do these. Some of my friends moved to different countries too but no one did it before securing a job first etc. But I am also blessed with sooo many things. I tried to be like others, but it just didn’t work.

  22. Your blog was one of the reasons why I started blogging, to be honest. I love the way you write and the thoughts and feelings you described – about all sorts of things – spoke to me. So, thank you! I hope you feel good having my stupid blog on your conscience 😉

    I had a few really great friends at school but spent most of my teenage years feeling like an outsider for similar reasons to you and even now, I’d rather spend time alone than spend it doing something I’m not interested in (the reason why, with a few exceptions, I have a strict rule about not attending hen parties!) And, like you, I still feel that way a lot of the time now. It’s okay though, because I do have friends who understand and I have an outlet for expressing myself.

    I’m not quite at the stage yet where lots of my friends are having babies. Certainly lots of my work friends are, and my siblings are…my friends won’t be too far behind. I definitely don’t want to have children and I’m happy with that decision but, like you, I wonder where that’s going to leave me in my social circle in a few years time. I’m comfortable in the knowledge that my focus won’t shift from work to babies, but it will be an odd time when that starts happening in my friends’ lives.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled without really saying anything… but thank you for this post, and for being an inspiration and, over the years, becoming someone I consider a friend too 🙂

  23. Fantastic post Amber, and so true! I still live in the constant fear that people will read my stuff and thing ‘WHO FREAKIN’ CARES??’ but I find writing such a valuable outlet – I don’t get to be creative in my job, and there aren’t a huge amount of people that will sit and listen to me wax lyrical about circle skirts all day, or will think I’m a bit odd when I tell them about the weird things that cross my mind at times, but there do seem to be plenty of people who don’t mind reading about them, and thankfully lots of people like you who do keep me topped up with great posts and pictures of them. I so know what you mean about not feeling alone! God love the Internet and all who post on her!

  24. This was a super brave post and I really appreciate it. My best friend and I call each other ‘freaks’ in a loving way of course, so I get it. Thanks!

  25. This reminds me of a T-shirt I saw: “Introverts Unite! Separately, in your own homes.” Haha. I can relate. I am very much an introvert, and very much get obsessed with my interests. I recently found your blog but relate to it so so much, even though my obsessions are not necessarily dresses and makeup (at least right this particular obsessive phase).
    I quit my job last fall for some big career moves, and a move abroad, and so I’m blogging because I love to write, and to tell people things, and I find that telling people stuff in person is likely to get the bored eye roll. Yeah. I can so relate to this post.

  26. Um, but pony books forever! My collection keeps on growing, and they are the books I will read over the most frequently. I adore pony stories so much I write my own as well!

    It’s so awesome that you blog about all this though; I think that’s why I really enjoy reading blogs, {especially yours!} because it’s all the conversations I can’t have in real life with my friends with other people that have the same problem! So we all talk about it online, and get to experience that community there instead. I think it’s so cool to be able to share like that. ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  27. THANK-YOU. I don’t quite know what else to say! I just discovered your blog today and have been scrolling through avidly and just… well I feel like i’ve come home in a way. That might sound bizarre, but something clicks when I read your posts and the part you said about obsessiveness – that was me! Still IS me actually – I do get so absorbed in things they can become quite all-consuming, I like to put all of myself into what I do, and have stopped fearing what people think as much. Bloggers like you have helped me to do that. Thank-you, and I will definitely be coming back to your blogging home in the future 🙂

  28. I was actually not going to subscribe (as I got to much stuff coming into my mailbox). But I love red hair (not natural my self :S ) and the “(oh, go on…)” got me. 🙂

    Looking back, I’m glad I did, as I find the things you wright about interesting.

  29. Just re-read this post and it made me laugh all over again. I wish you could have seen Max’s recreation of ‘Brave’ with him being all three of the wee McGreggors, and the rest of us taking up other roles. He even wrote a script for us (at five) and directed us all at the same time lol. We had to perform it at a family gathering but luckily they took it in good part. He fully engages in role play and gets lost in it. Now (at seven) his created games are rule governed and so complex that other kids don’t get it, so guess he feels now as you did as a child. If he has no toys at the table he plays with his cutlery and food, which is much more interesting than simply eating it. He talks to the dozens of soft teddies that share his bed for an hour before falling asleep.

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