Last week I deleted my first Tumblr account.
I had been fighting with myself for many months over whether I should deactivate it or only visit it every once in awhile as I spent most of my effort on my second Tumblr. I logged back in last week for the first time in about five months to see if spending time on it would help me make up my mind. In the end, I chose to walk away from it for good. The blog served its purpose for a little while—it was primarily a space for me to fangirl over Mumford & Sons and to post goofy animal gifs and to occasionally comment on the latest headlines. It was what I wanted out of Tumblr when I created the blog in 2013.
But as I spent time on it this past week I realized that 2013 me is no longer who I am or want to be. I’m not a sobbing fangirl anymore. I don’t glamorize being angry or pessimistic or cynical like I used to. My dream life is no longer going to concerts every weekend and meeting bands and trying to prove myself as the ultimate music lover. My priorities have changed a lot since I created my first Tumblr.
In the flurry of Mumford & Sons gifs and animal Vines and sarcastic text posts that filled my dash, I was able to put words to what I felt when I was active on that blog: I just wanted to fit in with a certain Tumblr demographic. I wanted to be a carefree 20-something who had her life together and did whatever made her feel good and who gave zero you-know-what’s about what other people thought and who spent her free time seeing live music. And I got jealous of the bloggers I followed who lived that life. I may not have wanted to admit at the time that that’s how I felt. But having that distance from it made it clear. I compared myself relentlessly to my fellow bloggers. And I was unhappy because of it.
I don’t say these things to hate on Tumblr or the swell people I’ve connected with who are living the life they want to live. Rather, I say them because I’m learning that something is very wrong if “being yourself,” online or off, makes you insecure and jealous.
Being you shouldn’t be stressful. It shouldn’t make you feel like you don’t add up. And if it does, maybe you’re not actually trying to be yourself. Maybe you’re trying to be someone else. I wasn’t being me on my first Tumblr. I was imitating others. I was trying to get on their level.
I still felt that shallow sense of jealousy as I went through my blog in the days before I deactivated it. But as I questioned whether that jealousy stemmed from a genuine desire to be authentic, I came up empty. In my heart of hearts I don’t care how funny I am or how hip I seem or how many concerts I go to or how many records I own or how many band members I’ve met. Because I’ve seen that no matter how much I tried to live up to all that, I always wanted more. So I kept chasing. I kept feeling like I needed to keep up with those that I followed. But it was never enough. Like pouring water into a cracked glass—I kept filling, kept trying, but I got nowhere and wound up empty.
About a year ago I started a second Tumblr with a much different purpose: to collect beauty. images of beautiful things, beautiful words, beautiful music. And I haven’t once felt that jealousy that my first blog provoked. I haven’t once felt like I’m using the blog to try to prove anything to anyone. When I started it, it felt like getting in touch with my true self. I found peace in that space that my first blog didn’t offer me. It was that feeling that prompted me to spend less time on my other Tumblr, and ultimately what led me to delete it.
It also made me realize that the heart craves beauty. Real, deep-down, everlasting beauty. We live in a world that throws bright and shiny things at us from every which way, but not all of them satisfy. We go for the things that offer us a quick and easy thrill but that leave us feeling empty and wanting more and wondering why we aren’t happy. Looking hip and relevant and hilarious, going to concerts and festivals, never made me genuinely happy. And I knew that. But I let them become my masters when I should have been content to let them be mere accessories, little things that colored my life but didn’t define it.
But beauty fills the emptiness, every cavern and cranny of it. It fulfills. It captivates. It invokes not jealousy, but joy. It’s real. It’s what our hearts ache for. It calms the restless frenzy that empty things create in us. Things that don’t matter flicker. They crumble. But beauty? Beauty endures.
And I’ve found that chasing it will never leave us disappointed. Even when the pursuit of other things leaves us exhausted and disillusioned. Beauty embraces us and fills us up, not to be emptied eventually, but to stay filled, and perhaps even to overflow.