Blogiversary: Unexpected Lessons from One Year of Blogging

On August 4th, 2012, this space was born. I was away on vacation last week, so we’re celebrating late. Sorry, sweet little blog.

I have thought about what I would say in this post often the past year. Much like an actress practicing her Academy Award speech after her first so-so B-film, I thought about what I’d reveal; how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, who I’d thank, etc., etc.

Sally Field

“You like me, you really like me!”

Of course, blogging has been a different experience than I’d expected, so I’ve retooled the speech a few times along the way.

I’m not a famous, self-supporting writer; rather, I’m a niche-less blogger, one-among-many. Not that I expected otherwise, but when you first announce to the world that you’re going to share your precious art with them, at that point the sky’s the limit. You’re just one post away from fame and glory, publishing offers and a lifetime of writing in your pajama pants.

However, one of my favorite things about blogging is that you never know what each day will bring. One day, you’ll be getting hate mail and reprimands from people; the next, your post wins an award or you get a kind email from someone whose life you touched.

For these reasons, blogging has been rewarding beyond my anticipations. I end up doing a lot of things that are personally fulfilling, rather than monetarily beneficial. It seems to be my lot in life…

Unexpected Things I’ve Learned from One Year of Blogging:

Blogging is good for the ego. Not good in an inflating sort of way, but quite the opposite. Any time I did not meet my expectations as to readership, pageviews, popularity, it took me down a notch. During this humbling process, I learned not to put so much pressure on myself to succeed, but to be okay just being me. After a lifetime of feeling like Never Enough, today I am me, I write for myself, and that is Enough.

Blogging yields surprise after surprise after surprise. Posts I did not think much of did very well; posts I thought would be well-received, not so much. Not only does this illustrate how not with-it I am in terms of popular opinion, but it also just reinforces that I am not God, controlling the universe with puppet strings.

PuppetMaster

Not me.

Waiting for things to come to me is a bad M.O. After a year of blogging, I have seen how much I wait for life to come to me, and what an ineffectual way this is to live. I expected to be respected and well-liked right away in the blogging world. I have always excelled at writing, and things came to me because of it (at least when I was younger); good grades, recognition, positions of power in small venues, etc.

Yet for the past few years, in the real world…few care about my abilities. Nobody cares that I can write. I’ve met many people who write – a lot of them MUCH better than I do. For a large fish in a small pond, this has shown me how much I just wait for life to happen to me.

Perhaps some of this is the Disney-Princess mentality I grew up imbibing (wait in the tower for the prince to rescue me), or the view of God instilled in me when I was young (God is in control of everything and whatever is supposed to happen will happen), or perhaps it’s just laziness (always a possibility), but I see how it doesn’t work in life. For things to happen, I have to MAKE them happen. If I want to be a writer, I have to do the footwork, just like everybody else.

Popularity isn’t everything. No, really, it isn’t. For someone who was never popular in school and was really okay with it, I didn’t know how much I cared about popularity until I entered the blogging world. In this arena, popularity meant that I was a good writer. Validation that people like my writing became way too important to me. I would get hurt that some people didn’t always stop by my site. I nursed silly little wounds over silly little slights.

The past few months, I’ve been learning that just like in life, internet popularity is fleeting and really not important. People send me notes of encouragement; people comment on my work; people let me know if something I wrote helped them in some small way.

That’s what’s important. If I get one person who after reading a post says, “Me too,” I am a success in my eyes.

There is a world full of people to whom I belong. I grew up not feeling like I belonged anywhere. Everywhere I’ve gone, I have always been Too Much or Not Enough. Through blogging, I have met people who are like me – quirky, funny, bookish, artistic people who dream too big and maybe don’t want to live life by the book. These people are priceless to me – you know who you are, and I love you all.

I will make mistakes, and that’s okay. I’ve hurt people’s feelings. Not everything I’ve written has been stellar. I am not perfect.

You hear that, inner-voice? I am not perfect.

And that’s okay. I am doing what I love, with people I love. For now, that is enough.

- – -

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Comments

Blogiversary: Unexpected Lessons from One Year of Blogging — 59 Comments

  1. Yay you on your one year! It’s a huge milestone! I have been in this for about 18 months and many of my lessons are the same as yours. I’m so glad you are in this space and that I get to read you. xo
    Ilene recently posted…RiseMy Profile

  2. So much of what you’ve written here resonates with me.

    “After a lifetime of feeling like Never Enough, today I am me, I write for myself, and that is Enough.” -that statement is so great, and so powerful.

    Thank you for sharing all of your bloggy wisdom. Congratulations on a successful year. Here’s to many more!
    Karen recently posted…Think Outside the Box: VajazzleMy Profile

  3. I wrote my own blogiversery post, but this piece so better encapsulates what I was trying to say. Thank you for finding the RIGHT meaning and words to this strange art-form.

    And thank you for not having a “niche.” I can’t stand these “epic” blogs that are some guy or girl giving stupid advice about gardening or SEO or parenting…If I cared that much about one topic every week I’d buy a freaking book on the subject, not subscribe to that person’s blog.
    Chris Plumb recently posted…The Cardinal Sin of Self-Publishing: Posting Trash Online.My Profile

    • It IS a strange art form, isn’t it?
      Hah! I think you’re the only person who’s articulated my feelings about niche blogs, even though EVERYONE tells you, “Oh, you HAVE TO have a niche!” Lol.

  4. Happy BLogiversarry to you!…Congrats you’ve learned so much…I don’t even know when a year is for me…Im going to go look it up now!

    • I know! I too came to that realization about a year and a half ago, when I came back to writing after ten years of being in school. It took about six months of playing around with the writing before I thought I could take it public…

  5. Congrats on one year of writing! That’s quite a milestone.

    It seems like you’ve learned so much, and you’re ready to become a blogging guru!
    As a new blogger, I loved your reflections on your “blogoversary.” Writers seek an audience, and blogs help make that possible. Yet, it does sometimes feel like a popularity contest. It’s a blessing to discover writers like you – people who care deeply about words and are gracious about sharing their life experiences with others.
    From Novels to Board Books recently posted…On Selecting a JournalMy Profile

    • Hah! Blogging guru? Hardly. ;)
      The whole popularity issue took me by surprise, and it took me a while to get over it. Being popular doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good, and vice versa.
      I didn’t realize you’re a newbie – you’ve quickly become one of my favorites. :)

  6. Happy Blogiversary! I can’t believe it has only been a year – reading your blog and enjoying our back-and-forth about writing has loomed large for me, so it seems like longer that you’ve been at this. Congrats! Keep going.

  7. Congratulations on completing one year of blogging. Most bloggers don’t last that long:) Loved your lessons learned. I totally relate and think I’ve learned many of the same lessons in my time blogging too.
    Lovelyn recently posted…It’s Picture DayMy Profile

  8. Natalie, I related to so much of this! I felt similarly when I started out, and it was kind of a shock to my system to discover that, as you put it, nobody cared about my “abilities.” I had no idea what I was in for, and my real-life friends definitely don’t think this blogging thing at all. I hope you know that you have a tribe of fellow bloggers who respect you, are moved by your work, and think you are extremely gifted. What you are doing matters. You’ve learned a lot this first year- congratulations- there are great things in store for you!
    Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. recently posted…Why It Sucks To Take Your Children Out In PublicMy Profile

  9. Happy blogaversary! I really like these lessons you’ve learned from blogging! I feel like I learn so much from blogging that I could never learn in a classroom, but each time I write about what I learned, I always want to flood up the post and make it this long list. :x For 6birds’ fourth year, I’ve decided to do this. Perhaps it’ll go much smoother. :p
    Liz recently posted…SundayMy Profile

  10. Natalie, I totally get you and you said everything I need to be saying to myself after my one-and-a-(gulp)-half years of blogging. I, too, have cared way too much about the popularity, expected things to just come to me and beaten myself up if everything hasn’t gone exactly as I hoped. Thanks for the reality check, girl! I appreciate it more than you know.
    Barbara recently posted…Creamy Miso Avocado DressingMy Profile

  11. I enjoyed the lessons you shared and I’m glad I found your blog. I started mine about a year ago and what I learned was that I needed to start over–so I did and I’m happier about the new one! This time I’m in a different mindset, ready to do things differently, approach things in a new way . . . re-evaluations are a good thing, aren’t they?
    Shannon recently posted…Dutch CreedMy Profile

  12. Happy first birthday! Blogiversary.. whatever you want to call it. It’s honestly nice to know I’m not the only one being way too sensitive about what the internet thinks of me. The idea of it is ludicrous but it’s real. Thanks for saying it first:)
    Pam recently posted…If at First You Don’t Succeed…My Profile

  13. Happy anniversary! I’ve learned the exact same things from blogging. Exact same things. It’s important to come to the realization that ultimately, we write for ourselves. If people like it, fine, if they don’t, fine too. It can be hard on the heart when criticism comes, I know. But, we can’t please everybody. Come visit me, if you’d like:
    from The Dugout
    mare recently posted…Century-old BeautyMy Profile

  14. I’ve been blogging for about 18 months. I started it because I loved it. I sort of thought it would be a journal that my kids could read one day. Then, somewhere along the line, I lost the plot. I started trying to belong in the blogging community. If a blogger didn’t follow me back on Twitter I’d think I’m not interesting enough. If a post didn’t get many readers, I’d think I need to write about something else. When my friends didn’t share my FB page I was hurt. Eventually, about a week ago, I realised that I had forgotten that I am doing this for ME, and screw everyone else. In a community where it sometimes feels like success is measured by likes, comments and followers, it is so easy to feel like a failure when you don’t have many. And it is so easy to see mediocre bloggers make it big and feel resentful, but I was never in this to make it big. I think remembering that will keep us true to our work. Thank you for sharing this. I will bookmark it for every time I forget why I am doing this!
    Liezl @ Two Suitcases and a Tin Pot recently posted…On being 36 and childlessMy Profile

    • I know, I lost my focus at some points, too. It’s easy to get distracted and myopic, but I constantly have to readjust my perspective so I don’t do that anymore. It only makes me unhappy.
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

  15. I can relate to so much of this post. Especially the part about which posts people like vs. the posts you think they will like. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have almost no idea what readers are going to respond to! Which is terrifying, but also really fun. Congratulations on your one-year.
    Shmoo Radley recently posted…So I Can Just Take These?My Profile

    • You’re right – it IS fun! And freeing – I just write what I want now, and though I pay attention to reader feedback, I don’t let it dictate my work. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

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