Last October, I wrote a post that delighted so many parents, my little new-born blog didn’t know what had hit it – and nor did I. Clearly, the news that we can relax and feel free to ignore the current pressure to be perfect parents was music to your stressed-out, how-the-heck-do-I-juggle-everything ears. And rightly so.
But with this Britmums Live conference hovering on the horizon, I’ve been thinking again about that post and how relevant it is to us as bloggers.‘British society has placed an expectation of perfection on every aspect of life. Whether it’s being the perfect employee, parent, wife/husband, you name it, we are expected to do not just well, but constantly improve and excel.‘
You see, if I wrote that now, I’d have added to that list ‘whether it’s being the perfect blogger….‘
If you do this blogging malarkey to make a living, then feel free to stop reading – this doesn’t apply to you! But if, like me, you do this as a hobby, do you feel tempted to make your blog professional-looking, as good if not better than the next? How much do you compare your blog with others and wonder if yours is wanting because you have less followers and far less comments than your peers? Have you become guilty of comparative blogging?!! I know I have.
I started my blog last April because I had a rather late-in-life realisation that I love to write, and that I needed an audience to write for – writing in a journal that no one reads simply didn’t appeal. I’m a girl who likes feedback, who likes to express her opinions (now, now, you lot who know me, stop laughing), who muses about the stuff of life and likes to share it. And I love to make people laugh and feel ok about themselves as they career around this crazy ride called parenting.
But in last the few months, I’ve started to do exactly what I promised myself I wouldn’t do and….compare myself with other blogs. I’ve wondered if I should put more time into making it look good, reading other people’s blogs, tweeting, twittering and whatever else, to raise my profile. Why? Largely because I want more feedback on my posts (what’s the point in blogging if I don’t know what people think?) and I’m hoping at some point to find someone who might actually pay for my writing every now and then. Future editors are more likely to be interested if I have a blog with healthy stats (600 a month probably doesn’t cut it?) or at least, that’s my guess – correct me if I’m wrong.
But also I have a sneaky feeling that it’s something to do with these blogging awards and this massive shin-dig of a conference, Britmums Live.
Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to this conference. I love a big get-together, eating lots of biscuits (thank Mr Fox for being a kind sponsor) and I’ve never had the experience of meeting people several months after getting to know them via a computer – quite the social experiment eh? “Crikey, is she really that loud?” you might be tempted to mutter under your breathe…..
But (and mine’s a big but, yes sorry, old joke) we can’t pretend that it’s not also a place where our blogs get compared and contrasted, and by token, we ourselves feel compared and contrasted. That’s a tall order for even the most pre-possessed, fully adjusted, nicely self-esteemed person.
But here’s the thing. Isn’t blogging meant to be about self-expression, something that is inherently unique? If so, then by comparing each other too closely, and trying to adjust what we present to gain more readers, or advertisers, aren’t we in danger of compromising exactly what blogging is about?
Wanting to do something well isn’t wrong, not at all. And when you’ve had a career or education like most of us have, where your performance was monitored and assessed, and good work was given public recognition, the job of a Stay At Home Mum, can be very hard to adjust to.
But in our attempts to be the best, and receive recognition, do we pile too much pressure on ourselves to read all those blogs we really should have read, check those tweets and promote ourselves on Facebook, Pinterest etc and to what cost? I don’t care about the dust and house work (life is too short) but in the precious time that our kids have with us after a long day at school, how much of us do we actually give to them? Or do we have one eye on our laptop and how many comments we’ve received….
It’s a tough question and a tougher one to find a solution to. We have to be very secure in who we are and remind ourselves that a good mother is as precious to society as a good writer, politician, nurse etc.
I sometimes wonder if all this techno-communication is robbing me of my ability to be fully present with others, to focus for more than a few minutes on one thing…..talking of one thing….
One thing I do to try and curb this insatiable ‘hobby’, is not having twitter on my phone or using it to read emails/blogs. It’s one way to try and set some kind of boundary around it. But that does mean that I won’t be part of various conversations or be able to read all your fantastic posts. Because they are – your posts – fantastic. But the fact is, the blogoshere is crammed full of creative, interesting blogs, written by talented, used to have a career, parents. But you know, I’m only a single person with a finite amount of time in my day. And the same goes for yourselves.
As the psychiatrist Dr Tim Cantopher said ‘If you try to do the undoable, you’re going to get this (depression). Stress doesn’t make you ill. You do – by trying to do the undoable,’ says Dr Tim.
This is something I keep having to tell myself. I have so many interests, that if I’m not careful, I’m like a girl in a sweet shop who can’t resist sampling a few of every sweet in the shop. And in the end, I make myself ill on it all.
So, as the days get nearer to the conference, let’s not stress too much about our blogs, about how brilliant they are or not. If you win an award, or are a finalist, we say ‘Yay, that’s so brilliant’ and dance on the table with you. You’ve clearly struck a chord, offered something that is loved and done incredibly well to keep our collective attention.
But if not, that’s ok too. Not everyone else is going to have read or loved your blog. But it doesn’t make you any less of a person. In fact, it’s probably a healthy sign that you’ve kept your blog unique and true to you – not everyone will like a truly unique blog as we’re all different. And I may well be wrong about those editors….:-)
So let’s ask ourselves why we’re blogging, and be true to that. Let’s feel free to not always be the best, but to be yourself, to remember the value of being a mother and to give our kids the gift or our full presence…at least for one part of the day!