Tuesday, October 18, 2016

That Time When Popularity Had Me in a Choke-Hold

When I first started blogging, I had a little community.  It was little, and I had trusted followers and friends on a little site called 'chattablogs.'  We were part of a bigger blogger community, and although that site one day fizzled out and dried up, I kept blogging. I blogged with the hopes that I had kept a faithful few that had gotten to know me and my writing style.

As I grew in blogging, I faced many roadblocks. One of the hardest was overcoming my incessant desire for more followers, readers, and comments.  If I broke a record for myself, say, most page views, my mind would immediately jump to my other stats. Not enough comments. If I achieved a goal such as "write a novel" or "write a guest-post for so-and-so," I would then feel a subsequent creeping sense of failure for something else... Not enough followers on Twitter or instagram.  If - in my mind- I didn't have enough people clicking over, commenting, or interacting on one of the many SM channels, I felt like a failure and I would complain in my head, and often to Stephen.

The other problem I found with blogging was the need for constant comparison to other bloggers, to see how I measured up against their stats. When I visited anyone's Facebook blog page, I would immediately begin the comparisons of numbers, pictures, and "about me" descriptions. If they were vying for yet another award a creeping sense of failure would attack me, once again. Rather than community, I began to feel competition. Rather than friendliness, I sensed vacancy. The vacuous need for growth in numbers was clearly the driving force behind many of these blogs.

As you can maybe tell by now, I was setting an impossible standard for myself constantly. I have to admit, I still think about these things. But at some point, I reached an impasse. If you haven't reached that "point" yet in your blogging journey, fellow Bloggers, then I assure you, you will. You will or it will kill you (or you will die trying... haha ;) I realized that I had achieved goals for myself, and that made me happy. I realized that popularity had me in its jaws, and the clenches were tightening over time, rather than loosening. When I noticed all of the little things people said, and all of the numbers over on SM starting to affect my mood, less positively, about five years ago or so, I realized I needed to take a break from blogging.

I have taken various breaks from blogging. Some longer than others. Sometimes I have shut down a blog all together. But I'm proud to say that prior to reaching my most consistent blogging routine, I had to let something go. In order to be truly proud of my work as a blogger, I had to let go of something HUGE >>> my desire for popularity.

I admit it: I see people in the blogosphere who are literally "Royals." They have all the awards, accolades, privileges, and opportunities. They have the numbers. In fact, they're "America's Next Top Model" of blogging.

But honestly? It makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I remember being there, and I have never felt so alone.

Nothing satisfied me.

Nothing made me feel truly accomplished.

Popularity had me in a choke-hold, and my desire for "more" became my obsession.

When I see people doing all that they can to add to their numbers, and still they're trying to get more jobs, and more people on their team, and more of x, y, and z, I'm glad to say I've pretty much let it go.

Does that mean I've given up trying to grow? No.
Does it mean I now have a ticket that gives me the opportunity to stop trying? No.

Does it mean I have immense peace? Yes. I know my purposes better now. I can measure growth in terms of little things- a kind comment. Yes, one comment that makes my day. That's a success in my mind. Seeing personal improvement in my writing, reading, mothering, or other hobbies as a result of the community I have here. That has not come with some pricks to my pride, some falls, some failures, some mistakes, and even- yes, some lost friendships.

I love blogging. I suppose I have found a modicum of success in blogging. Truly, though, I love all that it has to offer. I have made friends, I have grown, I have changed, and my skills have been sharpened. It all feels worth it to me now, somehow. I'm thankful for this crazy, unpredictable, awesome awesome awesome medium. Blogging has been a gift to me.

But--- you see, I'm not in it for popularity.  Shedding that feeling of competitiveness is like curing a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It is like a cleanse or a fast.  You can set it where it belongs, on the shelf, and move on with life. Keep trying, keep going, don't stop. But don't dwell in the numbers, don't worry about approval. Shift your perspective. As soon as you can. Let go of counting- it's all fiddlesticks anyway.

I'm not in it to play the popularity game. Why?

Because that, for me, is a satisfying place to be.

By the way, I will be taking a two-week long hiatus from blogging. Find me on instagram for #31daysofdrinks! ;)

Thoughts? Comments? ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk


Tiffany Borges said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiffany Borges said...

So I delved into blogging long enough to obsess about visibility, and I too found the liabilities of "community" too toxic for my personality. And if I needed the affirmation, it was made clear to me by questioning any positions of the poor souls thrown up as mentors (the professional Catholics, I guess?), it then became truly ugly! So I'd rather not play along in any realm. I'm grateful that blogging can still be a way to share ideas, without all the faux star-making loyalties. Sorry if I still sound resentful, ha! And thanks for writing. I liked the Lewis Carroll piece so much

Tacy said...

Yep! I like how you articulated this. It can still be a way to share ideas..... but we can think too much about visibility, and then it turns toxic. haha ;-P

Thanks for the encouragement. :P