What Happens When You Reach the Goal? Outgrowing a Goal-Oriented Blog
I didn't start my blog intending for it to have an expiration date. I don't think anyone does.
But that is what happens when you write a goal-oriented blog. It happens with cancer blogs where the writers are each hoping for remission, or weight loss blogs where everyone is hoping to get healthy. Reaching your goal means losing your place in the community. Your story is over. You've reached the finish line.
Except you haven't. Because there is no finish line when it comes to the need to write your story or gather support through the blogosphere. Especially coming through an experience where charting your journey feels like an emotional necessity. Blogging is a way of documenting a journey, but what happens when the journey veers off into an entirely new direction but your readership remains the same?
My blog was an infertility blog, and I was an infertility blogger while I was in the trenches of infertility. For three years, I wrote The Infertility Voice, my story of building my family.
My blog became an extension of who I was, as vital as any appendage on my body. As I channeled my experience through my writing, I became a "wounded healer" – in helping others heal, I helped heal myself.
When I got pregnant on my first IVF cycle everything I assumed about the personal, safe space I had created for myself online completely changed. Seeing those two pink lines changed how I interacted with my blog.
I had reached the goal, but I felt like a stranger in my own home.
I knew people would be happy for me, but I also knew that I was no longer one of them. I was no longer trying to conceive. I was now ensconced in a pregnancy. I was just like my readers, except that I was nothing like my readers.
I took a full two days and 1,600 words to announce my pregnancy to my readers. Actually, it only took two words (I'm pregnant!). The other 1,598 words were spent trying to legitimize myself as an infertility blogger despite my pregnancy. And since then, every time I opened up WordPress to write a new post, I was silently typing an apology in between each word.
I created a second blog, #GoTeamZoll as my new "safe" space, where I could write about all the things I was no longer comfortable writing about at The Infertility Voice. It was supposed to be my sassy momblog but as I developed complications throughout my pregnancy, it became harder and harder to keep up the sassy façade.
I felt inauthentic in my writing, like I was trying to please some unseen studio audience. Truth be told, I needed the safety net of love and support I had once had at The Infertility Voice now more than ever. I ached to write, but neither of my blogs felt like the appropriate place to say what I needed to say. Silence overtook me, a response both strange and unfamiliar to me.
It wasn’t until Robin Williams’ death that I figured out what to do.
Shaken by his suicide, I was compelled to write. But my words had nowhere to live. It was such a random blog post that it had no home. So just one day after his death, I started building a third blog.
I finally realized what had been holding me back for the past year and a half as I struggled to find a blog home where I felt welcome. I had become so defined by my own blog niches but had lost sight of why I started blogging in the first place: to express myself, to heal, to grow, to connect, to feed my soul.
My greatest struggle is learning to be honest with myself and to allow that honesty to come through in my writing, to stop trying to fit into all these perfectly-crafted "PR-friendly" niches. I’m dropping the niche labels, the cookie-cutter genres, the unrealistic expectations placed on myself by me and me alone (a truth rooted in a lifetime of insecurity).
I have no idea how this will land with my readers, and for the first time, I don’t care. All I know is that I will be writing at my most authentic, my most honest, at my most laid-bare.
Take me or leave me for what I am - but at least you’ll have had me as I am.