Ah…the internet…a goldmine of information. Need to know if that lingering chunk of cheese at the back of your fridge is still fit for human consumption? Wondering why your cat suddenly goes bonkers at 2:30 in the morning? Trying to figure out what’s causing your headache from hell? You need look no further than that modern-day oracle, the internet, to ensure you don’t poison your family with deadly dairy, reassurance that your cat is just being a cat, and that it’s probably a sinus infection and not a brain tumor causing your headache (although, seeking medical advice from the internet is always a bad idea).
When I started this blog three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing (I’m still trying to figure it out), so obviously I turned to the internet for help. Through my research, I was able to find useful information on blog hosting, layout/design suggestions, tips for naming a blog, etc. However, when I began researching less “cut and dry” topics, such as content creation and increasing blog traffic, I ran into suggestions that I immediately knew would prove challenging for me. After that, it wasn’t long before a familiar, sinking feeling of impending failure began to take hold.
Over and over again, I was confronted with the same two pieces of advice for blogging success: you must study other more successful blogs, and you should seek opportunities to feature as a guest writer on those blogs.
I understand completely the logic behind both of these suggestions, and I think they make a lot of sense. I also understand that it is not the problem of the blogging experts if their advice doesn’t fit within my own limitations. Neither is it their responsibility to consider every personality type when they share their expertise; that is an unrealistic expectation. The reality is, however, that these two very sensible and effective suggestions do pose problems for some of us who struggle with certain issues, such as low self-esteem.
BROWSING MORE SUCCESSFUL BLOGS
For most people, this is probably an innocuous suggestion. However, if you have a tendency to compare yourself constantly to others in nearly everything you do, and then typically conclude you will never measure up , browsing the successful, popular blogs of other people may prove fatal to your determination and motivation.
Reading someone else’s awesome, successful blog doesn’t usually leave me feeling fired up and thinking, “I can do this!.” It usually leaves me thinking:
“Wow, this person is really talented and successful. They have a business and a family, and still they manage to post every day. I can formulate a sentence…but I will never be as talented…successful…organized…determined…interesting as this blogger! I’m going to be terrible at this. I’m going to be a total failure. Who do I think I am? Why should I even bother?”
This is a difficult rabbit hole to claw your way out of, and it has often ended my pursuit of many a dream. Is this a normal reaction? No, it really isn’t. But I’ve been this way my entire life and, I’m fairly certain, I’m not the only person who feels this way. Surely not…right?
GUEST POSTING ON A SUCCESSFUL BLOG
Again, this advice makes a lot of sense, but you might as well suggest I go audition for America’s Got Talent.
Instead of viewing this suggestion as another avenue to potential success, I see it as a cheeky imposition upon a busy, successful blogger and yet another inevitable encounter with rejection and failure, all of which can be devastating and mentally paralyzing when your supply of self-esteem is already slim.
WHAT’S A SELF unASSURED, unCONFIDENT, GIRL TO DO?
“It’s either some kind of electricity or some kind of energy. I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, I’ve got it.”
Katharine Hepburn, when asked about star quality. (IMDB)
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bottle just a tiny bit of other people’s self-confidence! Unfortunately, as we all know, there is no such quick fix.
For many years, I have felt guilty for seeking advice, not just for blogging but other ventures as well, and then being unable to follow-up on some of that advice. Today, I’m tired of feeling guilty. I have done the best with what I have, and I will continue to do just that. I have pushed myself, sometimes successfully, sometimes just a bit too far beyond the borders of my personality. There are some who will accuse me of giving into fear. Maybe they’re right, but while I believe there are times to push myself beyond my comfort zone, I also want to avoid pushing myself so far that I make life more stressful than before.
Although I experienced some frustration as I researched blogging dos and donts, I did arrive at some positive conclusions about “one-size-fits-all” advice, whether offered via the internet or those around me. At the moment, I am focusing on writing and blogging advice, but perhaps these decisions will help me in other areas of life as well. Here are my not particularly original or profound conclusions:
Before I begin any new venture, I will decide what success looks like for that particular venture and how far I am willing to go to pursue it. For example, is blogging success uploading more than one post a week? Is it an increase in traffic, likes, or views? Do I just want to keep my brain occupied? If I don’t know what I want my end result to be, I can’t really work on a plan to get there.
I’m going to stop feeling guilty about finding some pieces of advice too unrealistic for me. This doesn’t mean I won’t push myself, but I will not add to the negativity already in my brain by piling on more guilt.
If possible, I will rework advice to make it more manageable for me. For example, I will continue researching generic blogging principles and, if I want examples of post titles, writing styles, reader engagement ideas, etc. I will look to successful bloggers who are not in my “niche.” I know that may sound silly, but I believe there are general principles we can all make use of regardless of our blog focus. Hopefully, this will help me to avoid the quagmire of comparison and will stave off the “I’m useless at this” thinking.
Comparing ourselves to others is one of the most destructive, self-inflicted attacks upon our self-esteem, and I know these solutions belie a bigger issue. But, if I waited until I had all my confidence issues resolved, I’d never do anything. In the meantime, it is up to me to find ways to work around those issues so I can successfully pursue my goals.
ADVICE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT…
Don’t get discouraged if the advice you read or suggestions you are given seem completely out of reach for you; there is no such thing as generic, one-size-fits-all advice. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. You are the only one who knows your limits and how far you are willing to push yourself beyond those limits. Sometimes, those of us who are not blessed with an abundance of self-confidence have to find ways of outwitting our own brains and removing ourselves from the track of negative self-talk so we too can find success in our chosen endeavors. This may mean it takes us longer and our paths to success may have more twists and turns, highs and lows than someone else’s but, eventually, we can get to where we are going in our own way.