Sunday, May 1, 2011

Just Say NO to Blog Envy

So it's late at night and there's nothing good on TV so you decide to catch up on some of your favorite blogs.  Sure, you could catch up on the laundry, but come on!  I'm trying to keep it real here.  :)  You bounce around from blog to blog, just minding other people's business, when you notice that you've been sinking lower and lower in your chair...and sighing an awful lot.  You may even feel a little sick to your stomach.  Sure, there's a chance its indigestion, but I bet you twenty bucks it's something else.  Blog envy.  If love strikes from a cute little arrow shot by a chubby cherub, blog envy strikes like Tanya Harding with a keyboard to the knee...and then maybe a mouse-turned-nun-chuck to the throat.  It's a brutal game.  Once blog envy hits you, everyone else seems more and you seem suddenly much, much less.

Maybe you envy the blogger with 362 comments on a single random post.  Maybe you think you don't measure up to the blogger who transformed an old purse into a pair of shoes for the homeless using nothing but her bare hands and some glitter glue.  Or, maybe you see that blog with a gazillion followers and all of a sudden your left eye starts to twitch and you feel overwhelmingly compelled to raid your child's holiday candy stash.  We've all been there.  I have over 13,000 registered followers- and I am so grateful for that.  Still, the other day I came across a blog that was the epitome of style and success and I thought to myself:
I hated feeling that way, but denying it doesn't do anyone any good.  So I let myself feel it...and then I may or may not have eaten most of a box of Fruit by the Foot...or is it Fruit by the Feet if you eat more than a foot?  You should really never eat more than a foot of anything.  The point is, I let the awesomeness of someone else make me feel like an idiot.  I could be crazy, but I have a feeling I'm not alone in this.  It's not that I didn't like this person or that I didn't want them to be awesome.  I just didn't want myself to be so much less than them.

I've thought a lot about this and how silly it is to compare ourselves to what we think someone else is or isn't.  When it comes to blogging, who knows who or what a blog author really is in real life?  The person we think we know and we admire so much could be a shameless nose-picker or have 14 toes and live under a bridge somewhere.  Or, they may be brilliant and talented with a dazzlingly clean house and 42,000 hours of service to the community in their back pocket.  Either way, it has nothing to do with you (or me) and the amount of value your (or my) life possesses.

I love my shabby bloggers so much.  That may sound silly to you, but I honestly do.  I've met so many amazing women who have made such a difference in my life.  I don't want a single one of you to ever let blog envy (or any other kind of envy) make you feel insignificant or less-than.  So, having said that, here is a list I have compiled that I hope you will find helpful.  Take it for what it's worth, but these are my tips for making the most of your own blog and kicking blog envy to the curb:

1. Be original.  You know that saying "There is only one you?"  I know that I, myself, have gagged on the sheer cheesiness of that statement at least once before now.  Even so- it's the truth.  There IS only one you...and that is a very cool thing.  Do you know how many times I have seen the same photos from Martha Stewart or Country Living posted over and over and over and oooover?  Yes, that kitchen is cool, but not as cool as your thoughts and your photos and your life.  Know who YOU are.  Embrace who YOU are.  Blog who YOU are.

2. Respect the originality of others.  To be an honest and original blogger means putting yourself out there.  It means sharing a piece of who you are- even if it's only a small piece.  Whether you are sharing a photo of your latest vacation or your own personal views on global warming, what you are really sharing is a piece of you- of your life, your heart, your story.  We must respect the things others share.  We can love it or hate it, but we must be kind.  This means we cannot, under any circumstances, take from others without their consent.  My best friend is the most amazing artist I know.  She blows my mind with her incredibly unique style and leaves a trail of beauty behind her wherever she goes.  Naturally, people want to be like her.  Even though I understand that, it hurts me to see people copy the things she does that are so special and unique.  There is room for all of us.  We must be original and let others be original too.

3. Blog blindly.  Yes, we want people to read our blogs.  Yes, we love it when people leave us comments.  Those little comments tell us we are heard and that we matter and that we are, perhaps, even a little bit rad.  We want to see our numbers go up and our followers go up and our incomes go up.  Having said that, if you are blogging for numbers, it's going to be really hard to stay true to yourself.  Besides that, if you allow yourself to feel good when your numbers go up, you have to also allow yourself to feel bad when they go down.  Why do that to yourself?  If you are constantly looking at the number of comments, the number of followers, the number of visits you get and everyone else gets, you're going to end up like the crazy lady downtown who zips around on roller skates while holding a stuffed animal and talking to herself.  You are more than a number.  The people who come to your blog are more than numbers.  Be true to yourself and blog what you love without looking over your shoulder.  At the most, you will become an overnight sensation and all your wishes and dreams will come true.  At the worst, you will leave behind you a legacy that is a true representation of who you are.  Let someone else worry about the score.  (I literally put my husband in charge of that from the very beginning of Shabby Blogs.  I have no idea what my numbers are and I don't want to know!)

4. Be kind.  Don't you just love nice people?  I love nice people.  I love it when people aren't afraid to genuinely compliment others because they recognize that pointing out the good in someone else does not take from the good of oneself.  If you come across a blogger who inspires you, tell them!  Leave them a comment or email and let them know the good you see in them.  Share their blog with your friends.  Do whatever you can to encourage that blogger and build them up.  Isn't that what you would want people to do for you?  In high school, I always used to hear girls talking to girls about other girls and saying things like, "Isn't she beautiful?  I hate her!"  For goodness sakes, why do we do things like that?  What a waste!  I am genuinely drawn to people who are kind to others and who are always looking for ways to lift up those around them.  Those are the blogs I want to follow and the bloggers I want following me.

5. Blogging isn't everything.  Gasp!  I know, right?  Shabby Blogs is all about...well...blogs and here I am saying it isn't everything.  That may seem strange, but it's the truth.  I've seen so many people whose lives have become what they do to have material to blog about.  Please don't get me wrong.  Blogs matter.  But the best blogs are written by people who live their lives to the fullest...far away from laptops and hard drives.  If you want to know that you are special and you are valued and that you have something to offer the world, the best thing you can do is turn off your computer.  Read to a child.  Volunteer at a hospital.  Go for a walk on the beach or in a forest or up a mountainside.  Never lose sight of what matters most.

You can download and print this beautiful quote designed by the ever-inspiring Alisa Holland here.