Q: It seems obvious that blogging has brought a lot of good things into your life, but has it brought any challenges? I sometimes think the blogging world breeds jealousy among women? Have you had any issues like these?
A: wow. what a fantastic question. it came to me anonymously via formspring, but i thought this week's workshop was a good time to pull it onto the blog to answer it and gain your insights on the matter too.
yes, blogging is good. as if i haven't mentioned that enough. among other things, i appreciate the friendships made, the clients gained, the outlet of creativity, the exchange of good ideas, the communication with outsiders, and the inspiration from one and all. if i didn't love or believe in blogging i wouldn't pour myself into it as i do.
that being said, like anything, the good and bad go hand in hand. blogging is like taking a dog for a walk in the park. the sun is shining warm rays, you are happy to have a day off to play, your dog is jumping with joy, fetching his frisbee, all is well and dandy. everything about the experience is a delight. yet still the time must come when you have to carry his crap in a little baggie. it's not pleasant in the least. and you don't necessarily love that particular aspect of living with your four legged friend, however you deal with it and life goes on. like blogging, you deal with the crap so you can enjoy the good.
the crappy parts of blogging come in a number of forms; i will name a few. you are fearful about putting yourself out there. you feel greedy; you want what they have. you care too much of what others may think. you don't get any comments. you can't think up anything original to post about. you copy and paste everything onto your own blog. you are inspired by others but feel that you cannot possibly inspire others. you get sucked into everyone else's life. you are green with envy. you have unreal assumptions about bloggers. you start thinking everyone is more successful, talented, and all around better than you are. sound familiar??
if you start down this path, you'll begin to imagine that you are the only blogger who cannot cook, who cannot scrapbook, who cannot modge podge correctly, who cannot write hilarious memoirs, who cannot reupholster, who cannot be fashionable on a dime, who cannot be a fun mom, a darling wife or a super business woman all at once. and you can certainly not attempt to bake those tiny cupcake balls and dip them into little lollipops with sesame street character features that will be recognizable to your one year old at the party that you are throwing him that better be blogable, or else.
why do we do this? why do we become envious and want to become just like this person or that person. and most of them, people we've never even met in real life. we do not know that they are human. they may even have crooked teeth or large feet or a strange birthmark. we think they are, unlike ourselves, perfect in every way.
we should admire these people, but we must resist the urge of wanting to morph into them. for example, i can love miss bakerella and her genius one-of-a-kind idea of molding cake onto a stick and making it so cute you can hardly stand it. i can even applaud her creations with a standing ovation, without needing to be just like her. in an ideal world, we should appreciate what others do without comparing ourselves with them. we can be inspired. we can even attempt to do what another blogger does, but we do not have to hold ourselves up to the impossible standard that we conjure up in our heads. this breeds jealousy and self-doubt and horrible mood swings. i must admit, somedays i ball together all the bloggers i love and all the qualities i admire about them until i've created one giant super mommy monster blogger that looms over me. let me describe her to you.
she is currently traveling the states for her booktour. it just debuted on the new york times bestseller list, naturally. this is only the tip of the iceberg, people. she is on the cutting edge of fashion and music. she has an eye for design. she not only lunches with the rich and famous, but she is a darling mother and wife and cooks dinners from scratch every evening. she is down to earth and drop dead gorgeous. and talented too. she letterpressed her own wedding invitations. her dress was flown in from milan and she had her groom's name embroidered on the hem in tiffany blue to be her something blue. that night everyone went home with a smile and a hand-wrapped box of her famous mint truffles, which had their monograms on them. in coordinating calligraphy to match the menus.
her house is always clean and smells of pine-sol. she hunts consignment shops and flea markets for original vintage wares to fill her home. she found an antique birdcage and sprayed it gold just last week. oh and her baby wears all handsewn dresses. that were made of bamboo eco-friendly material that will never hurt the earth. and her baby has this name that is so graceful and classic, the sweetest name that no one has ever thought of before. and she uses cloth diapers too. she and her little one spend time learning about the world in their backyard butterfly aviary. her 18 month old can repeat the origins of each butterfly species, sing the alphabet, and control her cup so it never spills apple juice down her lacy peter pan collar. the family eats out of her vegetable garden and she bakes bread from organic bananas. she delivers it to neighbors, wrapped with organza silk ribbons, on birthdays.
she has tons of friends, hosts a girl's night every month and seems to be speaking at blogging conventions every season. she has never had an embarrassing moment, a bad hair day or a tacky prom dress. she is funny and sweet and thoughtful. she sends timely thank yous and answers every email in her inbox with flair. her ability to arrange flowers has been featured in magazines across the globe. annie leibovitz will be shooting her in the hamptons next summer. she has already bought (and blogged about) the strappy sandals she'll be wearing for it. she owns all the latest gadgets and has created her own app. she still has time to sing her babies to sleep and cuddle with her husband and keep the laundry folded round the clock. she never has any sort of breakdown about frivolous things like cranberry sauce or pitted black olives. she blogs freely without wasting time, whining about life, criticizing or copying others.
oh and she has a booming photography business on the side. did i mention that? she snaps shots of coordinating-clothed families on the train tracks and pregnant woman with their tanned bare bellies and newborns lying on overstuffed floral anthropologie chairs. speaking of anthropologie, she does the window displays for their santa barbara location. they fly her in on the weekends. afterwards she flies kites at the beach with disabled children and then sells the colorful kites on etsy.
a few weeks ago, she made cupcake pops for her husband's super bowl party. they looked like teeny tiny drew brees helmets. she is always thinking up the best ideas and would never serve something so menial as meatballs from a crockpot.
see, i too get carried away with blog envy! lately i've been dealing with it by reaching out and commenting more often on the blogs i love. even if they have 100+ comments already, i know that every comment counts, so i tell them how awesome i think their blog is, how great their story was or how i am inspired by their projects, etc. i try to be specific and leave a meaningful comment. we should give credit where credit is due and tell them we appreciate the fact that they are sharing a piece of themselves with us. this small tactic helps me stay grounded. if we let ourselves, we can be overwhelmed and overcome with so many fancy famed bloggers that do seemingly everything. talents we wish we had ourselves. why, i ask you, why does it always come back to ourselves? why can we not just be happy for others and leave ourselves out of it?! why are we so competitive?
if we stay true to ourselves, love ourselves, live a balanced life, we can cut the crap and simply enjoy what we do do. we can get real. see things as they are. we can gain joys from our own simple silly lives. no matter how unpicture-perfect they may seem. just do the best you can. be the olympian of your own life. from one imperfect blogger to the next, i beg of you please be happy with who you are, what you have to offer. and blog about that. my lengthy message today boils down to my motto in life. six little words.
u be u. i'll be me.
want to save this post as a resource? a printable version is available in my ebook, The Blogging & Business Workbook. You'll also find expertise from popular bloggers, dozens of great tips on blogging and articles on setting up your own online business.