By JEMILA ABDULAI
This morning, while doing my daily inspiration rounds, I felt an urge to dig back into my blogging past – the archives of this website – and read something from a younger me. I do that sometimes. It’s not just fascinating, but also inspiring to see the growth in one’s life, and in this case in my blogging. Also if I’m lucky enough, younger Jemi might just have some sense or two to teach me. Anyway, I dug all the way back and that’s when I realized: October 13, 2012 was Circumspecte’s fifth anniversary! Wow. Not because I actually didn’t realize it at the time, but because it’s been FIVE years since my first blog post. Half a decade!
Why I Started Blogging
“People often ask why and how I started this blog. Like most other things, I didn’t have a grand plan when I begun in 2007. I just wanted to share my love for writing. It wasn’t to educate, teach, learn from, interact with, or even inspire others, nor was it to put myself out there and maybe garner some opportunities. No, the initial intention behind Circumspecte was to share passion. But it did become each of the other things along the way. Circumspecte has evolved over the years – both visually, content-wise, audience-wise – you name it. While I’ve enjoyed most of it, the thing that still takes my breath away is the sated feeling after hitting publish on a post that undoubtedly comes forth from the depths of my soul. I always pray, “God, please help me do justice to this piece of writing. To give it the life it deserves.” And that feeling only comes after that prayer.
I have also grown and changed alongside, and perhaps more accurately, through Circumspect. Like my blog, I am five years older and I have a larger archive of experiences than I did back then. In many ways, this site is a testament to the growth within me – as a blogger, as a writer and as a woman. My passion for writing and interacting is real, but so are my fears, doubts, problems, insecurities. It’s always been important for me to share my challenges because I think it’s so easy for people’s lives to seem glamorous from a distance. However, sometimes, I wondered if I should be sharing so much, literally stripping my soul bare.
How the African Blogosphere Has Changed
In late September I put up a post saying I was taking somewhat of a break from blogging and that I was conflicted within myself. Blogging/writing wasn’t what it used to be, and as the Ghanaian and African blogosphere changed it didn’t feel the same doing what I’d come to enjoy. While I didn’t have my answer, I knew that I needed to step away from the blog and assess what was going on. I needed to look within, to figure out why I no longer found genuine pleasure in writing and blogging. At the time, it seemed like it was the added sense of “pressure” – that I “had to” write frequently and especially that I had “no time” – that was the issue. And so, I decided that I wouldn’t post any original content on the blog for a while. Instead, I’d write for others – that would take my self-imposed pressure off, give me some structure time-wise, and most importantly, keep me in the act of writing. For the most part, I held true to this. The majority of my posts after my confessions post have been republications.
In many ways blogging has become the “in-thing”. While its great that many people are embracing this tool, it also means that the quality of writing and intentions for blogging are varied and different. Many people simply ‘copy’ and ‘paste’, while others post others’ works without giving due credit. Hundreds more blog simply to make a name for themselves and gain access to opportunities. While it’s easy to keep promises to other people, it’s usually hard to keep promises to ourselves. I’d promised myself that I’d always be real and genuine with blogging and writing. But I wasn’t always. I may not have passed off another’s work as my own, but I sometimes posted things simply because someone wanted me to. Other times I’d post because I felt I was slacking off (essentially comparing myself to others), and many times I posted because I felt I was expected to.
Staying True As A Blogger, Being Consistent with Blogging
The past couple of months have been spent wondering how to recapture the enthusiasm I had for writing, blogging, sharing. How do I get back the magic? I wondered whether it had to do with what I call “the exuberance of youth“, and if that quality was rubbing off now that I was growing up. Maybe it was a beginner’s luck type thing? How could I recapture it? Last week, I had a discussion with someone who has unknowingly become a mirror of sorts for me, and it hit me. All the gratification that came with writing, and consequently blogging, was rooted in one thing: a passion for life and a desire to learn. The moment you start thinking you are deserving is when you lose it all. The truth was I had become a bit complacent. My experience as a blogger, and the opportunities I’d been blessed with as a result of Circumspecte, were getting to my head. I thought I knew how to do my art, and so I was no longer open. I’d stopped giving entirely of myself in each post, and instead gave out measured doses. I realize now that complacency is a roadblock to a life of learning and growth.
More importantly, I can now immortalize the mission and vision of this platform as being a place for genuinely sharing passions, experiences, and ideas. It’s been five long years, with laughter, inspiration, tears, false starts, successes, opportunities, friends, interaction, faith, vulnerability, fears, challenges, hope and passion.
We all do things, and hope it will count for something. Whether it’s to show our competence, win the heart of another, to prove a naysayer wrong, to gain the respect of a contemporary, or the recognition of a crowd, to have our parents say, well done my child, or have others look up to you. What ever we do, we hope it counts for something. And sometimes it does, as clear as day. But most times, most times you’re never actually sure, you just keep shuffling along. How long you keep on shuffling though will tell one thing. Whether or not you really make you count for something – so that you can be proud of all you’ve done, chosen not to do, achieved, failed, learned – will tell another. Because if it doesn’t count for you as well, well, to what value could you put it up against?
Thank you for sharing this journey with me thus far. Wishing you all light, love, and the courage to be who you were meant to become.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.