Why I'm Breaking Up With My Vocal 'Stats' Page
On Ditching External Validation and Finding Inner Peace of Mind
Short answer: It was driving me crazy.
Long answer: It's a bit more complicated.
I have suffered from mild anxiety for as long as I can remember, particularly when confronted with new and unknown situations. My palms get sweaty, my heart starts racing and my mind goes into hyper mode, turning over the finest detail of every circumstance to the point that even if it was initially positive, it appears sucky. Always one for self-awareness, I've drummed up some strategies to combat this over my 22 years of life. I go to bed really early. Phone's off by 8PM. I don't check emails until after I've gone through the motions of meditating, preparing breakfast for myself and washing my face in the morning. I journal. I do yoga. I've deleted Reddit and limit the amount of time I spend on social media. As far as coping mechanisms go, these actions have helped me to manage (if not totally cure) my anxiety in the past.
Recently though, these methods have gone out the window as my busy mind has become slave to a new drug: the Vocal Stats page. My stats update once daily at around 10PM EST. For reference, this time has historically been the period when I'm in my pyjamas, face washed, teeth brushed and all there's left to do is turn off the lights and sleep. The past month, however, has seen me subvert this trend, preferring instead to religiously check my updated stats. How many people read my stories today? How many likes did they get? How much more money did I earn? Simple questions, simple answers. Fine.
Or it would be fine if it were that simple. Instead, it's like someone has lit a fire under me and suddenly, the mind that was previously so calm and ready for bed is alive, awake and awash with a host of new questions. What can I write next? Why didn't this story do as good as I had hoped? This story did amazing, how can I replicate that? Is my writing trash? There is a tendency for these questions to further devolve into concerns and insecurity about my writing and suddenly, the innocent checking of my stats here on Vocal becomes a gateway for devaluing my potential, my writing abilities and my merit as a human being. All at once, I am unable to sleep and do anything besides think entirely too much.
My mind has a way of taking things that I enjoy and twisting and contorting them until they're nearly unrecognizable, a thing of nightmares. A bit dramatic, yes. But my overthinking has resulted in me axing activities that I loved because I convinced myself that I wasn't "good enough". It was that way with swimming, karate, drawing, singing, blogging. A little voice in my head sings "No, no, you suck" and I guess I respond with "I agree". The End. Obsessively tending to my Vocal Stats page this past month has opened the floodgates for a continuous opera performance by this tiny voice. So, I blocked it.
I blocked it. My Stats page has joined the very short list of websites (namely Reddit and Instagram) that I'm no longer allowing to run my life. I feel that I should make it very clear that this is a me thing. That is, avoiding my stats page is a way for me (specifically) to curb my all-encompassing anxiety problems and compulsive need for external validation without actually ceasing to write on Vocal. Having my cake and eating it too, if you will. Make no mistake, I still aim to post and read on Vocal as frequently as I do, I just won't be able to view my stats page anymore. Whenever, I try to navigate to it, I receive this message:
By blocking this URL specifically, I retain the ability to draft stories on Vocal, to navigate to Vocal's landing page and to browse its various communities and its many listed resources.
I'm fully aware (like I said, "queen of self-awareness" here) that this is a tad extreme but my anxious tendencies are also an operation of extremes. These jittery thoughts have started to depress my mood and fuel an overwhelmingly negative energy that was beginning to affect my motivation to write on Vocal. And I love writing on Vocal. I think it's pretty neat and has allowed me to share my thoughts and discover the work of some really talented people.
I'd like to continue doing that without the crippling weight of self-doubt and the need for external validation. As of yet, I don't know if this is a permanent block. It may just be temporary until I reach a space where it feels safe to unblock it again.
For now though, goodbye Vocal Stats page. It's not you, it's me. I just need some space to find myself. I think we're better as friends and we're just on two different paths right now. I know you're going to make some other people really happy. Maybe we can reconnect sometime in the future.