Oh man, you guys. I'm not going to lie, I've been feeling a little defeated as of late. A little context: I'm a seriously passionate person - I pour my heart and soul into everything I create and do. It's at the same time one of the best and most challenging things about me. I like to go all in. Once I set my sights on something, I obsess over it and pour every part of myself into it. It can be so, so rewarding, but it can also be exhausting.
If somehow you hadn't already gathered, writing is one of my passions. [Sidebar: I am so grateful for those of you who keep up with my blog and support me. I mean it, and I say that with my whole heart. Thank you.] And when I started blogging, I swore I would forever and always write simply because I love it, never with the goal of making money, although I'd never say no if someone wanted to pay me for doing something that brings so much joy to my life.
But like I said, I have this thing with going all in. If I'm going to do something I want to do it well, completely, wholly. I spend hours (seriously, hours) sifting through content on the .com about blogging - how to brand myself and my blog, how to increase my subscribers and drive traffic to my site, what kind of images draw the most attention, how to use Pinterest to grow my blog following, what I should and should not do, and the list goes on. It goes on for actual ever. Seriously, I could spend the rest of my life researching this stuff and I would still probably never feel like I know what I'm doing. Oy. I totally understand the use in all of this, I do. If you want to start a business, these are absolutely things you need to know.
Anyways, I digress. Where was I even? Oh, yes. Research. In my research, I check out a lot of other blogs to see what others are up to. And in doing so, I can't help but compare. I see those Instastars who have 50 thousand plus followers and get hundreds of likes on each of their photos, and I think how? What do they have that I don't? Why don't people comment, like, or share my stuff? Why does no one read my blog? Is it me? Am I not skinny enough - or pretty enough - for people to be interested? (Sharing yourself on a platform that is based almost entirely on images is tough for self-conscious souls like me.) It just baffles me - not that people don't read my stuff, but the incredible followings these people have. It's incredible, but that's not my point. I'm getting there...slowly...I swear it.
And once I start comparing, I inevitably spiral into a dark corner where I am not enough, I am not doing enough, and what I create isn't enough. Like a wise man once said, comparison is the root of all unhappiness, which I couldn't agree with more.
When this happens, I panic a little. Ok, a lot. I start to read all these posts like, "What if Your Blog Never Takes Off?" or "Why Your Mom is the Only One Reading Your Blog," or "How to Start Making Money From Blogging." Full-blown panic mode (FBPM) shortly ensues. Shortly after FBPM come all of the drafts of "10 Must-See Beaches in New Zealand," "What to Pack for Your Year in New Zealand" and "Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel." Yes, these are all real drafts - that will stay drafts - on my blog. First off, I kind of hate the beach. Second, I'm interested in everything but an expert in nothing. Shit, I don't know what you should pack for your year in New Zealand - I'm here, right now, and I still don't know. And third, I don't care for telling people what to do. Not my jam.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these kinds of posts - I read this kind of content all the time and find it extremely useful and informing - but it's just not me, you know? For all y'all who know me, you probably see me veering in this direction and think, "WTF mate?" Trust me, I'm thinking the same dang thing.
When I start to create things from a place of scarcity, because that's what other bloggers are doing, and/or in the hopes of making money, it's so...weird. It's forced and surrriously awkward. It's like I'm at book club, it's my turn to pick the book, and I choose The Bible. Again, nothing wrong with The Bible (go Jesus), but if you knew me you'd know how random and unnatural that would be of me. You'd probably think I were possessed.
There is n-o-t-h-i-n-g more draining and soul-sucking than trying to be someone you're not for reasons that aren't in line with your values, wants, and needs. Nothing. But if I'm putting all of this time, effort and heart into it - I should be getting paid or getting thousands of visitors, right? Or what's the point? I'm just wasting time otherwise, no? I get so down and just plain depressed thinking about all of this heart and soul being put into my writing and having no ROI. (The blog posts are getting to me, can you tell?)
Well, earlier today, I opened my Instagram to see what I had been tagged in. It was a feature from an account called @leadlikeher and I had been mentioned in a post featuring my friend and fellow blogger Ashley Gilles (check her out, she's up to crazy cool stuff!). The post mentions that I was a huge influence for her when she created her travel blog. Wow. Holy goose bumps. I was so flattered, honored, and humbled that I almost started crying - and I never cry unless I'm channel flipping and I get caught on that damn ASPCA commercial about abused animals with Sarah McLachlan jams - I know you know what I'm talking about. It gets me every damn time. Again, I digress. My bad.
That right there is why I blog: the connection created with another person who feels something - anything - from reading what I have to say. The I feel that too. It's not about the fame - I don't care about becoming Instagram famous or a top-read blog. It's definitely not about making money, either. It's all in the name of connection. If the words I share can light a spark in just one person's life, than it will all have been worth it.
My big learning and note to self: never forget why you started. Hold onto your intention like it's all you've got, and use it to pull you back to safety (more like sanity) when you get distracted and start to drift into oncoming traffic. When you're feeling lost and enveloped by darkness, use your "why" as your guiding light out, for it will never, ever lead you deeper into darkness. It may zig-zag you around for awhile, sometimes it will lead you in circles, but in the end you'll always make it into the clearing safe and sound.
For anyone who made it this far, why do you do what you do? And if you're not pursuing your passion, why not? What's really holding you back? Feel free to shoot me a message directly or comment in the section below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Cheers, friends. Stay wild.