My blog has turned one year some days ago. It turns out it was created on the day when they celebrate Los Reyes (Three wise men) in Spain. The 6th of January. Which is also Christmas Eve in Orthodox countries like my own Ukraine. So I have to divide my attention between three celebrations now. Not a bad problem, really 😊
A month before this little anniversary I started thinking about what I will write. I’ve seen blog birthday posts in my feed celebrating number of followers. I wish I could write: “And suddenly there were 2.000 followers, thank you guys for your love”. But nope, not possible. No thousands. And writing: “Now I have totally 180 followers” would sound funny, but not everyone will get the irony of it. Second, I don’t connect love and numbers. I tended to get caught in the numbers game, but not anymore. Well, only while playing bingo. But I lost the connection between feeling good and getting numbers of followers and likes since I got off the Instagram. Instagram has even created a turn-off for numbers after I learned about mass-following: all those people who follow you so you will follow them back. There was a person who followed me three times. Wow, she really liked me! I wonder if the same things exists on WordPress. Do you think people follow you just to wake your interest for their blog? And those likes, omg, how I missed the like-button for years on Livejournal blogging platform! And now I feel like saying: “take it back! Turn it off!” The same reason: sometimes it seems to me that people hit the like-button even without seeing your post. Why otherwise can there be more likes than views of a post? Is there such thing like mass-liking here? Like you know, on Instagram you get likes from shops and other marketing platforms connected to your post.
Oh, I didn’t mean my anniversary post to be about numbers and blogging frustrations – but it looks like it becomes just about this. Lovely 😊
But what should the anniversary post be about? Are there traditions for this genre? Since I am still new to it and unaware of any rules and traditions, I will make my own.
So, the first tradition-to-be is giving thanks (I almost feel like I am receiving an Oscar, only that I am not. Not yet). I want to thank all of you who have found me in this multitude of blogs and kept up with me, even though I am not good at keeping up in the blogging space. I am a social person and I love to meet people. And sometimes I wonder if I use up my energy talking in real life, that I am not good at connecting to others online. I like writing – I love the sense of meaning it gives to me. And that freedom when I spit out of what has been on my chest/mind for a long time. But after the post is out, I am off. I still work on this thing: get better at connecting to my neighbors on the blogosphere and be faster answering the comments. Such honesty serves as a good excuse for my future (bad) behavior, like “Now you know why”. Very smart, right? At least, I can see that, so some levels of self-reflection exist in me 😆
Lesson 1. Blogging is for love. I started this blog in the month when I didn’t have to go to work – for the first time in many years. I was taking a pause after a mild burnout. I was restarting the system. And changing the direction. Of course, I was playing with the thoughts of making a blog into the source of income. My new job. I love writing and sharing, so why not? A bit further on that road I discovered that I know nothing about blog marketing and self-promotion – and I was not sure, I wanted to learn that. Maybe, that was fear. Maybe, I am too old for that shit. But I just realized: if I want to work off my ass for money – I know what to do: I just can go and find me a job. Have done it many times. Then I will have 40-hours week (not 100 like blog starters do), 5-week vacation and social securities. Of course, I said to myself: “but work is just work. And blog would be a work you love”. But wait a minute. I can easily imagine that working hard 100 hours a week can quickly kill my love. I am not 20, I don’t have that drive and enthusiasm. I need my sleep. And my enthusiasm is not for working hard now, but for enjoying my life. Discovering the art of life. Living a balanced life. Sorry, a vision of working my ass off is not compatible with my vision of a balanced life. Of a good life. So yeah, I kind of gave up (and such a pity, I could be holding a blogging Oscar now 😆).
I gave up. Or – reformulate – I changed my focus. I started watching what this blog is giving me (I already do a blog in Russian, for several years, so I was looking for added value of this blog). I asked myself: “If after many years you still will have 100 followers, and mostly only your best friends will be reading it. What will you gain? No fame, no money. What will you get that has value?” Practice, I thought. A lot of practice that I can turn into something else. Writing a book, maybe. Every artist has to practice in public to develop his skill. This is my form of practice.
Being in the flow, I thought. Forgetting myself, my hunger and thirst, while I am writing. That experience is worth so much. That loosing myself in the moment. Moment of creativity. Only for this I would do this. To feel this love.
A sense of meaning, I discovered. Meaning makes our lives happy. Meaningful. That must not be great things, not a purpose of life to look for. That can be little things that are already there (I learnt that from a YoU-app). So I started looking what I have in my life that gives meaning to me. Creativity is one of them, very powerful one. Roaming with my camera, taking photos, sharing them on the blog, musing and writing. This gives me a sense of meaning.
So this is what blogging is about. For me. Not fame, not money (I would not mind, but I wonder how I would handle that). It is about practice. Flow. Meaning. And love. Loving what you do.
Lesson 2. Blogging is a practice of courage. It has helped me to explore my own voice and get it stronger. It took me some 9 months to start this blog – enough time to carry out a baby. Why so long? I don’t remember now, but I can imagine what has stopped me. Two things: a thought “what will my friends and family think?” – and my own perfectionism. I wanted it to be good, very good. Looking professional. With great pictures. I was crafting my texts with care. Cuz this was not going to be a blah blah blog about what I did today. It was going to be my portfolio – to showcast my talents (for future writing gigs). It took so long time because I was looking for a concept for a blog. Gosh, I am glad I finally started it. And worked on it. For there were times when I saw no point going on and considered stopping it. But when I started, I payed for a year plan om WordPress and said to myself: “whatever happens, you are not jumping off before one year. Just keep on going”. Sounds like I was doing something tough, while it is just a blog. But really, for me it was tough. Not physically, not finding time, not getting ideas. Mentally. Making myself do it. Motivation. A reason to go on. And courage to go on. So this blog has been a lesson of courage for me. And using my voice. As a friend noticed about one my post: “you tiptoe a lot”. I am still tiptoeing, afraid to offend somebody’s feelings. Still learning to speak my truth.
I love what Elizabeth Gilbert says about perfectionism in “Big Magic”. Perfectionism is just a haute couture version of fear. It is fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.
Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and will never be good enough “. ~ E. Gilbert “Big Magic”
So blogging has been an exercise in doing a thing while repeating to myself: “This is totally good enough”. I was reading some Norwegian teenage bloggers (one of the most popular here) and said to myself: “See, they write this, so why can’t you?” Does this sound too pathetic, this struggle with fear? Is it too much for a simple thing like blogging? Can you relate to any of this?
This post is another good example of how blogging works for me. I started with fear and mumbling words a year ago, crafting my texts with such a high pressure on myself – and now, a year later, I can start a post without knowing how it will go. And the text makes itself. The heaven’s doors open and the flood comes. I just have to go with a flow. I love these spontaneous meetings with inspiration.
I want to make a toast with my tea cup now. Here to all of you, creative people out there. To your courage, to your love for what you do, to your meaning, to your voice and freedom. What you do is good enough, remember that. You are creating and adding value to this life. This is a life worth living, no? So cheers to that! 🥂