Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why I decided to blog again - part one

When I started my blog on March 1, 2008 it was because I enjoyed writing, I enjoyed the other "mom blogs" I was reading, and I liked the idea of taking all the thoughts running around in my head and sharing them with others. I saw what other bloggers were writing and thought, "I can do that too!"

And I did. And I enjoyed it for a while. But here are a few things I learned along the way:
  • Creating consistent content for a blog is harder than it seems
  • After I've spent time writing and editing a post, hitting "publish" is scary and sometimes paralyzing
  • I highly underestimated the agony of "this post is either brilliant or the dumbest thing anyone has ever written"
  • I also underestimated the agony of "no one is reading or commenting except for my mom and sisters - this is awful" versus "oh my gosh people are starting to read and comment - what do I do now???"
Now that I am here, four years of personal growth later, I also realize that I was putting unrealistic expectations on myself and I imagined that others had expectations of me. Failing to meet those expectations led to feelings of guilt and shame, which prevented me from posting for long periods of time, which, in turn, made me feel like a failure. Eventually I would miss all the good parts about blogging and think, "I'll start again and this time I can do it - I just have to be more diligent." All of this was due to nonexistent expectations and some ambiguous standard that lived somewhere in my head.

The expectation issue was intensified because I had no plan or direction for my blog so I was trying to imitate EVERYONE. I had zero filter for my ideas - every idea was a good idea, and every time I saw another blogger write/do something that I thought I could do, it became something that I should do.

And, if I'm honest with myself, I also see that I wasn't confident in my own decisions. I was sure that other people knew the right thing to say or do or write, and my way was always a little bit shaky. So I would put something out there and then see someone else do the same thing but (in my opinion) ten times better, and I would think, "Oh no! That's what I should have done - it was so obvious!"

My lack of confidence came from not understanding that other people don't know what the heck they are doing either, we all just take our gifts and use them the best we can. Others will always be better at some things than I am, but that doesn't mean I'm inferior. It just means I have to have confidence in my unique perspective and giftings.

In the past few years I've come to understand that there are very few black and white, wrong or right decisions in this life. Of all the decisions I will ever make, a small percentage of them will be ones that I need to agonize over and pray about. The rest of them - especially when it comes to being a writer/blogger/artist - don't matter as much as I once thought they did.

What matters more than making a perfect decision is moving forward. Having 5 perfect blog posts that are published and 95 not-quite-perfect posts in the hopper is absolutely backwards. It doesn't allow me the chance to grow; the opportunity to make mistakes, to learn, to get feedback from others, to have to clarify what I meant when something is taken the wrong way.

And so, I am learning to embrace my imperfection.

This blog post has taken a turn I didn't expect; everything I have written was supposed to be part of my introduction for why I decided to blog again but it appears to have taken on a life of its own and morphed into its very own post! Consequently, I will save the rest for another day and will work on writing part 2 of why I decided to blog again.

Are there areas in your life where you've created nonexistent expectations? How is that holding you back? What if you decided to let go of them?


Katherine Ross said...

I know the feeling, Erin! I had a blog that I started back in 2006 and hardly ever updated. When I would, I always felt like I needed to explain what I've been up to and why I haven't blogged in a while, all before finally writing the actual post content. It was pretty overwhelming!

With the blog I have now, I try to update it as often as I can, and I post whatever feels natural (which doesn't always mean brilliant and biting content.) Sometimes I post a photo with a paragraph or two and that's all. No eloquent sentences, no deep thoughts - just something I find inspiring. Surprisingly, that helps with my writing blocks more than anything else.

Erin K. said...

How did I NOT know that you have a blog?? Perhaps I should spend the last half hour of the work day catching up on it. You know, in the spirit of building community among coworkers. That totally makes sense, right? :)

WES said...

I relate with you, Erin! I'm glad you're posting again. I wasn't there the first time around, but I will be now. I'm wrestling with those expectations as well.