Monday, June 1, 2015

Catching Up and Missing Out

Nine people sat around the table before the meeting started, chatting comfortably.  Several conversations were happening, and I was content to sit and sort of space out.  Something I really enjoy about getting older is that opportunities for spacing out are still everywhere, but I no longer care about missing anything.

I’ve missed out on plenty and been a part of just as much, and it is my experience that what I missed eventually becomes meaningless.  I’ve learned that of all the daily information we consume and process, very little of it rises to the top of the import list.

One of the conversations around the table was about email; a few people were commenting on the length of one of their addresses.  It was a college-affiliated email, rarely used.  The owner had to look it up on her phone to share it.  A conversation started about the length of school emails and how people hang onto them long after they’ve finished school.  This was a life experience I never had. 

I mused that I went to college so long ago that it wasn’t until graduate school that I was introduced to email, about a year and a half after email became a normal part of life for most.

Back then I sat in a computer lab on campus the first week of the new semester with a slip of paper in my hand, typed with my own address.  Staring at the letters and numbers, the @ seemed meaningless.

Haltingly, I asked the young woman next to me: You mean… I type this in… and type someone else’s email address in… type something… and the other person reads it?  I couldn’t visualize it. 

Yes, said the shiny new grad student, my colleague, two full years younger than me.  She was already loads smarter, her education fresher than mine.  She graduated from a better school than I did, too.  I had spent the last two years doing three things: applying to graduate schools, dating heedlessly, and hanging out in bars.  Only twenty-four, I felt obsolete, behind the times, practically elderly.

The need to learn this new skill was urgent.  My learning curve was steep.  I thought I’d never catch up. 

Within a week I was caught up with email and the world wide web.

Years later, I started a blog because I wanted to write something that others could read.  No matter that I didn’t know who or really how many were reading; my need coincided with having hours to myself a day, the advent of social media, and the thought that I had something to say.

I learned enough to design a little website, plunked ten dollars down to secure a domain, and wrote. 

In the five years since, the world of blogging has grown into a universe, dotted with important words like branding and content and plugin and reach and acronyms like SEO and PV and POV and others that I can’t remember and that are just as meaningless as that @.

I am on the fringe of this universe, my little blog sort of lagging behind at a pace much slower than others, having never really understood or educated myself on the proper words to insert into my posts so that they can be more easily found on Google, tailoring content to reach as many people as possible.  Five years of blogging and what I’ve gleaned from how to build a successful blog boils down to one thing – having clickable posts.  There’s more to it, I’m sure.

But no matter.  I’m old enough to know that I don’t have to keep up with the crowd.  There will always be someone more successful, more astute, more interested in playing the game and therefore better at it than me.  My learning curve has flattened out a bit, yet I continue on, practicing my writing and hopefully getting better.  While other more successful bloggers are busy learning about networking and viral posts and building a social media empire, I continue to plug away, no matter how insignificantly. 

My learning curve was a steep one, but from the top of the hill I saw another, steeper one, and another, and another.  At some point I jumped off.  Sometimes I think I should climb the hill again, reach the top, and keep on going.

The information will never end.  Do I want to spend my life chasing it?  I consider a life trying to stay on top of the learning curve.

Today is not the day to begin that life.  Today I'll choose some of it and let the rest fall away. 

Today, I've caught up enough.  I’m okay with what I’m missing.



  1. So true that there is always another hill. I like hills, but I get tired and tend to take breaks, and then I notice it was a mountain in the first place. I don't know. I lost my metaphor at the bottom of the hill. Or mountain. Or something.

    1. I got you. Thing is, with me, I never really liked hiking in the first place. ;)

  2. I get it. We just want to write. I'm glad you do that. xo

    1. Thank you, Alison. I'm glad you get it. It is hard to feel on the outside looking in, sometimes. Not hard enough for me to do anything about it, though. ;)

  3. Andrea, you've just said everything I've been feeling. That the things I'm missing, the things I don't know how to do or don't have the motivation to learn just aren't for me.

    I want to write. I want to be read by people that I love, know and that matter to me.

    The "keeping up" is just exhausting.

    You are not on the fringe of anything at least not in my mind.

    Hiking is pretty stupid. I think that's what I'm trying to say. ;)

    1. Thank you for your sweet words. Let's not hike together. :)

      I think maturity helps us to separate necessity from extraneous. Some might just call it age.

  4. I could have written every word of this. Someone recently asked me how I make my blog stand out and my response was a long, awkward blank stare. Maybe standing out isn't the prize any more (at least for me). Maybe I want somebody to happen upon me like an unexpected creek with the clearest water and decide to sit a spell. Maybe it's okay for that to be enough.

    1. That long, awkward blank stare: I know it well. It's hard to explain to people that I spend so much time doing this simply because I love it. It's hard to leave that there.

      Your creek analogy - yes. That's what I want, too. Would it be nice for that person to offer me something wonderful in exchange? Yes. But for me, that they are reading is enough.

  5. You are a wise woman! This resonated with me (and due to my current exhausted state, I choked up a bit - keeping up is exhausting and I cannot do it). I'm a cruddy comment-er, but I always love reading your posts. I think you're in the perfect spot, whether you're with the learning curve, ahead of it, or wherever!

    1. Thank you so much, Missy. I appreciate your words, and that you take the time to read. Keeping up with the newest thing has always been hard for me, and although I can do it, most of the time something holds me back from running the race. I have to think that that Something is meant to be. Maybe it's the same for all of us who feel similarly. xoxo