Monday, August 18, 2014

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt

So I've entered this weird space where the house is almost but not quite done, Kiddo doesn't start Cross Country for a week and school for another two. I have little to anchor my day, except an activity of my own making, which depends solely on my motivation at any given moment. I'll get up and jog at 7a! says 9p Sarah. I don't know about you, but 9p me is vastly different than 7a me. I wish it weren't so, but you know, a zebra changing his stripes and all that.

I've also yet to figure out the flow of everyday things. We went from a one to two story home with a vastly different layout so even ordinary things like where to sort and fold the laundry or plug in my computer and phone seem to elude me (note to self: stop charging your phone on your nightstand. Instagram stalking at midnight is no bueno and certainly a contributor to the problems before you). Needless to say I hear Moooom! I'm out of shorts! on a regular basis. And then there's irregular bedtimes and wake up calls and overall I'm a bit of a mess. Not a hot mess, but a mess no less. (I'm a poet!)

What's more, Husband is integral to some huge work project, so while I flail about the house, phrases like progressive profiling, going live, scrum meetings, marketing automation, landing pages and soft leads emanate with authority from behind his closed office door. This project is a rather demanding girlfriend and sucker of time. Not a moment of our day is safe: phone calls during dinner, emails during The Good Wife, and webinars during prime breakfast date time. I miss him! The younger, less evolved me wants to stomp her foot and demand attention. I am not a needy creature by nature, but I want things to fall into a rhythm and they simply won't cooperate. I want normalcy, damn it!

These are First World problems, believe me I know, but we all have our things. Sigh.


This all brings me around to my point. Because there is one! These days, when I start to get into these funks, I'm quick to nip them in the bud. But first a little spiraling must occur for me to identify said funk. One place it often manifests itself? The blog. Yup, I start obsessing and tweaking and Google analyzing and all that sort of stuff. Hours disappear and my anxiety rises.

I should explain. You see, all this fretting is usually triggered by something and this instance was no exception. You see, there is this fellow blogger, and all around lovely person as far as I can tell. We started blogging at the exact same time, almost to the day. She took a familiar route to blogging: weekly outfit posts, sneak peeks into rooms in her home, glowing moments in her personal life, etc. There is zero wrong with such things, lest you think this is some sort of criticism. To each their own, I say. But I will admit that it's a formula many, many bloggers follow. Successful bloggers. You go to their site if you want to see how they mixed and matched an outfit; not if you want to read about marriage and living simply and, well, anything deep and insightful. And these days I'm looking for the latter.

We started our blogging journeys at the same place but ultimately took very different routes. About a year ago I stopped joining in on link-ups that required I follow twenty blogs and hand over my first born. Instead I focused on content, perhaps at the expense of my potential for popularity. There are no outfit posts here: I simply don't have the figure or wherewithal or desire, if I'm honest. The last few years have been spent in academia, and although I never once showed up in the requisite college uniform of Pink sweatpants with Ugg boots, there was nothing special to share. Besides, there are very few cute ways to survive a New England winter during a polar vortex. It's true. Perhaps that's why so many bloggers reside in Texas. 


During this period of roaming funkiness and overall lack of direction, this and that about a blogging conference was popping up all over my blogroll. Pictures with two of my favorite bloggers lit up her posts.

And a very dangerous thing happened: comparisons started being drawn.

I started to wonder how and why she had more than me. I'm honest and raw and real, and yet I rarely garner a single comment. She routinely has over a dozen (the depth of those comments is unknown). And so it went. You get the point.

Sour grapes over here, guys. I'll admit it. She played the blogging game well. She put in the time and earned each and every one of those pageviews and followers. I commend her for that. But I also resent feeling forced into a mold just to get noticed. 

I only want to follow blogs that I want to read. I want to see amazing photographs and read thoughtful writing. Writing with substance. And I only want to write a post when it means something to me. I want this to be a space I'm invested in. I want more. I'm sure she feels the same way, but it just so happens that her likes and interests seem to fall more in line with mainstream blogging.

Instead of coming to my senses right away, I started questioning Mario endlessly about SEO and whether or not to connect Google+ with my blog and switching around my template and creating a dedicated email address for the blog and, well, if you've been there, you know. And it seems that once you tweak one thing, you fall into a black hole that is impossible to get out of (is this just a Blogger thing or is that true on every blogging platform?). Change one thing and a domino effect occurs.

But with all things, rational Sarah took over after a couple days. She said things like "Stop following that person if it gets under your skin!" and "Spend a few bucks and hire someone who knows what they are doing to design your layout!" and "Switch over to Wordpress!" and "Get yourself together, woman!" Rational Sarah is very stern but also super wise.

So here I am. Blogging. With nary an outfit photo in sight. Because, at the end of the day, that's not who I am and not where I want this place to go. Besides, there are a million other people we can go to for that kind of thing. And while I know I need to be better about networking and otherwise putting myself out there, obsessing and comparing myself to others will get me nowhere. Likewise, joining a zillion link-ups might help with readership, but in my experience, not meaningful readership. Aside from a few great bloggers I've connected with over the two years I've been doing this, my comments and bounce rate haven't shown any correlation with the number of followers I've gained. 

(Another reason to ditch Blogger, maybe? Despite removing my GFC widget over a year ago, that number still sits on my dashboard and every so often goes down by one or two followers... because obviously there is no way for it to go up. I try to ignore it but, well, again, you know. But anyway.)

I can see why some of my favorite bloggers have faded away over the years. They've either stopped writing altogether or made The Announcement followed by a courtesy period before shutting down their site. It can get in your head, this whole blogging thing. And as much as we assert that this is simply an online journal, written for oneself, that is a fib we are fond of telling ourselves. A diary is a secret-keeper, kept tucked away in a nightstand, while a blog is for the world to see. Readership is an affirmation that you are not alone; that the hours spent putting it all out there on the internet are not for nothing.

I, too, can go to a blogging conference and meet great speakers, writers and bloggers. I, too, can garner knowledge from them. I, too, can get my picture taken with them should the desire strike. Anyone can, for a price, so there is no use pouting about being one-upped.

At the end of the day this is my truth: I curated this blog when the only person reading it was my husband. And if all my readers fell away tomorrow, I'd still write it. (Which may just be the case should I choose to switch platforms.)

But what I won't do is try to change my stripes.


P.S. The above photos were taken the first week we moved here. Mario's family rented a house in Seaside, Oregon and we decided to drive down for the day. I'm so glad we did. These, in particular, are at Cannon Beach, home of Haystack Rock (of Goonies fame). It's a magical place, not unlike most beaches in the Pacific Northwest (in my humble opinion). They have nothing to do with this post, but I rather liked them here.

2 comments:

  1. I hope you keep writing, just as you do. I follow many blogs for many different reasons and I always enjoy your thoughtful posts. And you have pretty pictures too :-)

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  2. I identify so much with your posts, I hope you always keep up the blog. I heard about you from your Husband, but stay reading because I appreciate the insight you have on raising a teenage boy and life as a woman in this changing world. I think your posts are the meat of my blog reading, where the outfit posts are the fluff. And they start looking all the same. Yes, of course it would be nice to post things c/o some fabulous clothing designer, but where is the authenticity of that? You are an amazing writer and have depth and intelligence. And you can't get that c/o anyone but yourself.

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