Blogiversary: Unexpected Lessons from One Year of Blogging
By Natalie DeYoung on August 21, 2013
Featured Member Post
On August 4th, 2012, this space was born. I was away on vacation last week, so we’re celebrating late. Sorry, sweet little blog.
I have thought about what I would say in this post often the past year. Much like an actress practicing her Academy Award speech after her first so-so B-film, I thought about what I’d reveal; how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, who I’d thank, etc., etc.
Of course, blogging has been a different experience than I’d expected, so I’ve retooled the speech a few times along the way.
I’m not a famous, self-supporting writer; rather, I’m a niche-less blogger, one-among-many. Not that I expected otherwise, but when you first announce to the world that you’re going to share your precious art with them, at that point the sky’s the limit. You’re just one post away from fame and glory, publishing offers and a lifetime of writing in your pajama pants.
However, one of my favorite things about blogging is that you never know what each day will bring. One day, you’ll be getting hate mail and reprimands from people; the next, your post wins an award or you get a kind email from someone whose life you touched.
For these reasons, blogging has been rewarding beyond my anticipations. I end up doing a lot of things that are personally fulfilling, rather than monetarily beneficial. It seems to be my lot in life…
Unexpected Things I’ve Learned from One Year of Blogging
Image: multi-colored cupcake, from Shutterstock
Blogging is good for the ego. Not good in an inflating sort of way, but quite the opposite. Any time I did not meet my expectations as to readership, pageviews, popularity, it took me down a notch. During this humbling process, I learned not to put so much pressure on myself to succeed, but to be okay just being me. After a lifetime of feeling like Never Enough, today I am me, I write for myself, and that is Enough.
Blogging yields surprise after surprise after surprise. Posts I did not think much of did very well; posts I thought would be well-received, not so much. Not only does this illustrate how not with-it I am in terms of popular opinion, but it also just reinforces that I am not God, controlling the universe with puppet strings.
Waiting for things to come to me is a bad M.O. After a year of blogging, I have seen how much I wait for life to come to me, and what an ineffectual way this is to live. I expected to be respected and well-liked right away in the blogging world. I have always excelled at writing, and things came to me because of it (at least when I was younger); good grades, recognition, positions of power in small venues, etc.
Yet for the past few years, in the real world…few care about my abilities. Nobody cares that I can write. I’ve met many people who write – a lot of them MUCH better than I do. For a large fish in a small pond, this has shown me how much I just wait for life to happen to me.
Perhaps some of this is the Disney-Princess mentality I grew up imbibing (wait in the tower for the prince to rescue me), or the view of God instilled in me when I was young (God is in control of everything and whatever is supposed to happen will happen), or perhaps it’s just laziness (always a possibility), but I see how it doesn’t work in life. For things to happen, I have to MAKE them happen. If I want to be a writer, I have to do the footwork, just like everybody else.
Popularity isn’t everything. No, really, it isn’t. For someone who was never popular in school and was really okay with it, I didn’t know how much I cared about popularity until I entered the blogging world. In this arena, popularity meant that I was a good writer. Validation that people like my writing became way too important to me. I would get hurt that some people didn’t always stop by my site. I nursed silly little wounds over silly little slights.
The past few months, I’ve been learning that just like in life, internet popularity is fleeting and really not important. People send me notes of encouragement; people comment on my work; people let me know if something I wrote helped them in some small way.
That’s what’s important. If I get one person who after reading a post says, “Me too,” I am a success in my eyes.
There is a world full of people to whom I belong. I grew up not feeling like I belonged anywhere. Everywhere I’ve gone, I have always been Too Much or Not Enough. Through blogging, I have met people who are like me – quirky, funny, bookish, artistic people who dream too big and maybe don’t want to live life by the book. These people are priceless to me – you know who you are, and I love you all.
I will make mistakes, and that’s okay. I’ve hurt people’s feelings. Not everything I’ve written has been stellar. I am not perfect.
You hear that, inner-voice? I am not perfect.
And that’s okay. I am doing what I love, with people I love. For now, that is enough.
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