At both Thanksgiving dinners last week, I felt my cheeks bashfully turn a modest shade of scarlet as my new friends discussed my blog, along with some of my most recent or popular posts. My blog has grown substantially over the past year– As Told By Dana has become my little slice of the internet. In fact, there have been multiple times this year when I have met new expats in France who immediately knew me as “the one with the blog.” And although I’ve openly and willingly made the choice of putting myself out there on the world-wide web, I must say that it is an interesting concept to introduce yourself to someone you’ve never met, but who already knows so much about you. Ironically so, it still feels even more odd to hear my friends, colleagues, and people I know in real life converse about the feelings and experiences I have chosen to write about and then share on the internet.
When I started blogging (way back in 2010), I had approximately 7 followers. My posts consisted of a very informal format, where I basically just wrote down a play-by-play of my daily life in France. After coming home from Caen, however, I started reading many more travel blogs, and was therefore able to actively develop my writing techniques and style in order to produce more interesting, culturally based posts while I taught English in Japan.
While preparing to move to France as a Teaching Assistant, I was determined to create a different, unique type of France travel blog– both an updated, personal resource for people curious about living or working in France, as well as a safe space for me to express my voice, my travels, my opinions, and my life experiences, all whilst having a decently steady target audience. I’ve revealed a lot of personal information on this blog: from the difficulties I had as an assistant, to my anxieties about being single, to being sexually assault while abroad— things I hadn’t been comfortable talking about with even my friends and family, but felt safe sharing with strangers the moment I hit publish.
With that being said, I love having the vast majority of my readers as strangers. I love the connections I have made with various people through my blog– people with whom I share a love for France, travel, and feminism, or with whom I share similar hopes, dreams, political beliefs, fears, and struggles. In a way, it’s comforting and uplifting to know that strangers are reading my words. It’s empowering to know I have a voice that is being heard.
My readers who know me in real life know a different– perhaps additional side of me. As I’ve mentioned, I choose which parts of my life I share on this outlet. Many of my friends know the stories of my past, or have lived the ones I tell on my blog right alongside me. Therefore, they are aware of the intimate details of each story I leave out and keep for myself, and perhaps of the subtle hints and personal references I sometimes add into them.
But that’s what I love about blogging– it’s a journey and a documentary through this very defining period of my life, and I’ve had the privilege of sharing it with others. Someone once asked me why I spend so much time on my blog if I have no financial gain. No, I do not currently get paid for my work, but this blog has opened doors, and has paved the way to new friends, and exciting opportunities and adventures. For that, I will be forever grateful.
As always, whether you are my friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger, thanks for reading.