March 26, 2013

Lesson Learned

2012 was a pretty intense year. My blog got bigger, and quickly.  Bigger brands were contacting me, I was getting regular emails from companies wanting to advertise with me, and I couldn’t keep up with the reader comments and feedback that was flooding in. It was exciting, it was exhilarating, it was overwhelming, and somewhere during all that drama I lost my way.

I caught myself buying clothes just because I knew they would make for compelling outfit posts. I started documenting every single minute of my life for Instagram. I’d stay up night stressing over a hurtful comment, and dwell for weeks over one that was constructive criticism. I caught myself attending events just to “feel” like a "proper blogger," promoting products and brands I didn’t 100% believe in, and feeling competitive with my blogging peers.  I wrote posts thinking more about being Pin-worthy or good for affiliate revenue.  As the blog grew, the comments and emails increased and they started to get me paranoid. I worried about sharing too much about Emerson or Karl, I carefully worded posts so I wouldn’t be too political, too feminist, too hippie dippy, too extreme in any direction. I started looking, acting, and even thinking like a stranger.

This past January was a tough one for me. I had gained weight over the holidays, I was burned out on blogging, I turned 38. Work was busy, the blog was busy, we just finished the holidays and ramped right into Emerson’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, my birthday. Migraines returned and I had my first panic attack in over a decade. I felt torn in so many directions. Emerson told me I worked too much and was on my phone too much. Work mentioned that I seemed as though I was spread too thin. Karl felt I was never fully there, always thinking about the blog or the job or potential blog posts. The doc told me my chest pains and panic attacks were stress and I needed to make a change to preserve my health.  I felt that blogging was the reason for all my stress. I hated that my passion became the thorn in my side.

Maybe it is the return of spring, but things have seemed clearer and more positive in the past week. I realized that blogging isn’t the problem, I am the problem. I created the drama, I made the choices to get where I am. And I am the one who can change it. I am the one who can bring me back to the blog, and with it, the joy of blogging.

I have been writing this post for a couple of days. I would write two pages, and delete every paragraph. Write another page, and wipe the slate clean and start again. I worried I would look ungrateful, bitchy, melodramatic. But then, that is part of what got me in this mess in the first place. Maybe I wouldn’t write anything at all, and just make the change for upcoming posts not yet written and scheduled. And then Maegan Tintari of …Love Maegan wrote a post today that made me realize I needed to stop being a drama queen, stop editing myself and just write this. Maegan's post made me realize I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, not the only one who lost her way. That while I did create this situation, the blogosphere has changed in the past year and we who have been blogging for a while without fully realizing it have been battling between being ourselves and being current, being intimate without being vulnerable, being authentic while being profitable.

Hoping to keep up the traffic, I lost myself along the way. I rarely stick things through in life, but I have stuck with blogging for eight years. I love the community, I love the relationships I have made, I love the ability to constantly improve my craft.  It would be a shame to ruin all I have built and loved by trying to win PR and pageview popularity contests.

For all of us who started to blog for the love of writing and journaling, it would be a shame to lose our voices in an attempt to make a few extra bucks, score a bit more swag, get a cool mention on a cool site.

There are many reasons to blog; my reason was never to be a web personality or a full-time blogger (maybe a columnist or an author but not a full-time blogger). I blog because I want to share, I want to help, and God I love to write. And write I will continue to do… on my terms.

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