On Valuing Privacy

Those of you who know me in real life know that if I’m not blogging, there’s probably a good reason for it.  About a week ago, I wrapped up what must have been the busiest semester of my academic career.  Since then, I’ve been trying to relax (and failing miserably).  I’ve also been trying to write for this blog (and failing miserably).  Then, today I woke up with my first legitimate topic in a long time.  I figured I could share the reason behind my recent writer’s block.

When I first started this blog, I was pretty willing to write about just about anything as long as I could connect it to my life in some way.  As a result, I had posts dedicated to music, television, personal relationships, and politics.  I didn’t mind that Ministerial Life became about my personal life because my goal always was to shed light on some of the things that young, single ministers go through.  However, a few things happened that made me start craving my privacy again.

1. The Breakup

From the beginning of this blog, my six years of singleness became a major theme.  For that reason, I made the mistake of writing about the relationship that ended my six-year drought.  I didn’t realize that the relationship would end as quickly as it started.  It barely lasted two weeks.  Needless to say, I was angry because of the way things ended.  I was most angry that I had gone through the trouble to share the situation with my friends, my family, and my readers only to have it blow up in my face the way it did.  Thankfully, my readership was so low that I maintained some sense of privacy through the situation.  Still, it made me reconsider how much of my life I am willing to share through this forum.

2. The Audition

My personal journey through the music industry has also been a constant theme in this blog.  After a few successful performances with my original music, I decided to audition for a reality singing competition (that I still can’t mention thanks to that stupid contract I had to sign).  I started losing interest in the audition once I realized how inauthentic the process actually was.  Producers chose people primarily based on their appearance. Everyone I met there displayed evidence of a musical gift, so it was only possible to stand out if you had a unique personality and a unique sense of style.  When I wasn’t chosen, I was relieved.  I realized that I actually didn’t want the increased scrutiny that comes with being a national recording artist.  I didn’t want my life to become the target of tabloids and bloggers.  I like my privacy.

3. The Role of Criticism

Early on, I realized that the easiest way to be successful in the blogging game is to spend a lot of time throwing shade.  That comes easy for me.  (It’s no accident that one of my sorority sisters referred to me and my best friend as Frasier and Niles.)  However, I have been challenging myself not be be so quick to tear people down like that.  Just because I have been blessed with analytical skills does not mean I should use them (intentionally or unintentionally) to hurt others.  I want to make sure that my legacy is not based on how many creative ways I have managed to trash celebrities, scholars, politicians, and fellow bloggers–even if it means lower readership.

4. Progress in Other Areas

In the year or so since I started this blog, my academic reputation is improving.  I have already presented my research at two conferences and I have a few more presentations and publications on the way.  I have seen the way that that early writings and speeches have been misconstrued to damage people’s professional careers.  Lani Guinier lost out on a Presidential appointment because people misunderstood her research on affirmative action.  Michelle Obama had people attempt to call her racist after copies of her undergraduate thesis from Princeton surfaced.  Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign after an excerpt of one of her speeches was taken out of context.  Situations like these have inspired me to take more time out to think about the things I write on this site.  After all, only God knows where my research and ministry journeys will take me.  I would rather not be disqualified because of something I posted on a whim on this site.

The reality is that I didn’t create this blog for the sole purpose of making money though I do bring in some small residual income through Google Adsense and Amazon. (I started both of my businesses with a long-term plan in mind.  Ministerial Life is meant to house all of my creative and ministry-related activities including my music, speaking engagements, and any of my books that are written for a church audience.  Steps Toward Change, my other business, is meant to house any of my consulting jobs, academic speaking engagements, and academic books.) While it would be great to make six figures from writing in this blog a few times a week (especially in light of my student loans), I primarily see it as a place where I can gather my thoughts and hopefully receive valuable feedback.

That being said, I plan on writing more often now that my schedule has calmed down a bit.  As my life continues to change, I look forward to sharing more insights that I have gained from my church and my recent travels.

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

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