So… have you missed me, dear readers? Did anyone even notice I was gone? I’ll probably never know the answer to the former, but I’m pleased to say the second is a rhetorical question. You see, I’ve received a handful of messages lately asking what happened to my blog and if I was OK. In fact, I’ve been asking myself the very same questions since I decided to take a sabbatical from blogging back in May, as we neared the end of our national lockdown, and the island was preparing to lift its restrictions on tourism and salvage what was left of the summer. Wow, how time flies…
In short, nothing happened to my blog – it’s still here and I was just taking a break from writing it, for reasons that I’ll go into below (should you care to read them) – and yes, I’m OK (thanks for asking!). It was a strange and very short season here on the white isle in 2020 – just as it’s been a strange year all round in most places. It’s still strange – nothing yet feels ‘normal’. For me, the past few months have been a very intense period of ups and downs, highs and lows, dark and light, positive and negative, happiness and sadness, anxiety and inspiration, denial and deep soul-searching – just like they were for many others. And as a result, after 12 years of using the White Ibiza platform to express my feelings all year round, I decided to keep them to myself for a change.
Sure, I could have written some token, perky, fluffy posts of positivity about the sun shining in Ibiza or the blissfulness of Ibiza’s beautiful beaches, declared that life was like the bohemian 70s again or even just waxed lyrical about my cats (my favourite subject), but it wasn’t where my head was at. I didn’t feel comfortable pretending everything was OK when in fact, my mind was racing and my heart was pounding on a daily basis, worrying about the state of the island, and indeed, the world. I wanted to write about things that really mattered. I wanted to share my true thoughts – even when they were a bit dark and doomy, or perhaps not even related to Ibiza – and yet, I stopped writing for fear of being judged.
You see, over the course of the lockdown period, I was called (among other things) a sheep, a fascist (I mean, really?), ignorant and blind for sharing my personal thoughts through this blog and on social media. My thoughts, by the way, are not hugely controversial or offensive, they’re based on common sense, and are 100% my own – they are not the opinions of White Ibiza or pay-for-post advertisers. I found myself with stalkers and haters (par for the course, when you put yourself on a public platform, I suppose), including one who was publicly shaming me, another who was privately sending me streams of aggressive and argumentative abuse, with endless links to conspiracy-type spam, and a few who were just plain creepy. And while in previous years I may have had the strength to handle it, this time it really got to me. 2020 wasn’t your ordinary year, after all.
As a writer, you (should) learn to accept criticism for any work you’ve felt confident enough to share on a public forum – developing a thick skin is part of the job, no matter how sensitive you may be. But these random strangers had me questioning whether my opinions mattered, whether they were relevant enough, if they were insensitive (I hope not!), just plain self-indulgent (surely on your own platform, that’s OK to some extent?), and whether I was justified in sharing them with our readers at all. There’s something a little frightening about someone you’ve never met attacking you every single time you express an opinion that is different to theirs. It starts to feel personal, like a vendetta. Someone challenging your ideas is one thing – someone hating on you for the sake of it is another. Ah, celebs – I don’t know how you do it!
I remember very clearly the day I decided to stop posting. It was a few days after the murder of George Floyd in America, being horrified and heartbroken after watching that video and the subsequent media frenzy that surrounded it. I found myself confronting the concept of systemic racism (both as an individual and in our society) as I watched the BLM movement grow. As I always do when something stirs up emotions in me, I started to write. And I wrote and I wrote, and as always it was therapeutic… and yet, when I’d finished the piece, it felt too personal to share. At the time, I used the excuse that it ‘wasn’t very Ibiza’ and pushed it to one side. On one hand, I was worried how my opinions about something happening on the other side of the world would be perceived by our readership; on the other, I was simply afraid of being the target of abuse.
The following months were a blur, as we navigated our way through a summer season unlike any other. While everyone else had been at home baking banana bread, learning a language, practicing yoga, doing home workouts, home schooling their kids or even just binge-watching TV, I was tap-tap-tapping on the laptop from morning until way into the night, writing anything and everything except my own opinions. In between epic all-nighters, all I could do was sleep. So, when the ‘season’ started, I wasn’t in the mood to socialise, to go to the beach (although regular readers of this blog will know I don’t like the beach – finally, I had an excuse!) or do anything that involved physical exertion. I was exhausted – drained, burnt out and still feeling worried about the state of life as we know it. Aren’t we all? (Side note: this is not a woe is me post in any way! I have a point and I’ll get to it below.)
Then, the season was unexpectedly cut short, and I found myself with more time to ponder my own thoughts. It wasn’t long before I felt the urge to put pen to paper again (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be). That time spent away from blogging, feeling all the feels – not faking it for content, or fluffing things up to sound like life is perfect – was good for me. Because now that I’m back at the computer, I’ve got courage in my own convictions again. Instead of thinking about a return to ‘normal’ or dwelling on what we’ve lost or missed, I believe it’s time to change the narrative, and work towards a more evolved future, focusing on what we’ve learned. One thing I’ve learned is that our little island is a survivor and it will get through whatever else 2020 throws at it. And I’ll be right here where we left off, sharing my thoughts and opinions as we get through it together. That’s right, dear readers – Miss W is back.