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Notes to self: Globetrotting writer Gaby Doman on a columnist’s dilemma

Our columnist reflects on the everyday ups and downs of being a modern woman

Tabloid on Saturday

It’s always easy to forget that people read this column. I live in Bangkok, so I feel quite far away from Dubai and its goings on — I haven’t seen this column in print in over three years. It’s quite a comforting thought that I just write these words, send them off and then they disappear. I’m always a little surprised when I get Tweets from people who read it, although thankfully up to now I haven’t had anyone be mean to me about it (they probably think I have enough problems as it is, without adding to the burden). If I write one that’s not too personal, I post it on Facebook and maybe a couple of friends read through it.

Usually, though, I find it a bit too personal to put it on Facebook, which seems an odd thing to say because it’s published in a national newspaper and online for the whole world to see.

I was watching Sex and the City re-runs with my best friend last week. In the episode, Carrie Bradshaw (who writes a weekly column) got a little upset that her friend, Samantha, doesn’t always have time to read her work. My friend shifted uncomfortably in his seat and confessed he’s never read mine. I hadn’t thought for one second that he would. I’m glad he doesn’t. I’m glad because writing a column feels a bit like writing a diary. I feel the same about my Tweets. I write them and send them off to the ether. Sometimes people reply, but usually it’s people I don’t know, so it all feels a bit like a game. A lovely cathartic game. When people I do know reply, I’m thrown off my game a little. It makes me feel a little startled, if I’m honest. Especially if I am writing about unrequited love or disordered eating or something I find quite raw to deal with.

Yesterday, my mum sent me a message on Whatsapp. It simply said “I read your column”. On further probing, I managed to get out of her that she “understood where I was coming from” but not that she liked it (it was last week’s column about how far you should compromise to find love). I know full well that my mum barely ever reads my work, so I never take her into account when I write. I never take my ex-boyfriend into account, either. If I thought he read what I wrote about missing him and all that stuff, I’d die of embarrassment. It’s silly, isn’t it? Everybody in the world has access to my Tweets and my columns. I write personal stuff, and yet, there are a lot of people with whom I am uncomfortable with them knowing so much about my life.

I don’t want my on/off boyfriend, The Playboy, to know I care when he is a horrible human being to me. I don’t want my mum to worry that I panic so much about never finding love again. I don’t want my friends to think I am quite this neurotic about every little thing.

I’m definitely an over-sharer, but I’m also intensely private. I’m not sure how that works. On Facebook, I barely ever say anything personal; it’s all silly stuff about Korean boy bands I like and what I’m up to. I barely ever tell my friends and family how I’m really feeling. I don’t have the “dying alone” convo with anyone, I’m much more likely to have the “where shall we go for dinner?” convo. On Twitter, I sometimes really put my heart out there. I’m not the only one. I can’t figure out why we do it. I can only assume it’s because it’s easier to tell your innermost thoughts to someone you don’t know, whether that’s a shrink or an avatar or an audience of a national newspaper.