Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting Real...

Alright Honeybees, I'm going to cut to the chase and I'm going to get "real" with you for a minute. This weekend I've been doing a whole lot of thinking. Thinking about my little blog, all of you, the way I present myself, etc. So many things have been swirling around in my head. Authenticity, competition, cattiness. "Girl hate" isn't anything new and it's a topic I've pretty much beaten to death on LCH, but it's a huge catalyst in this post. Likewise with the feeling of entitlement and my online life vs. offline. I like to keep things on here happy and upbeat. I like to share the good things in life and I want to be able to look back on this blog years from now and smile at my adventures and accomplishments (and cringe in embarrassment at 90% of what I wrote, much like I do now with my first entries!). But sometimes we need to cut the cotton candy schtick and speak from the heart. That's where this post comes in.

This wasn't premeditated. It's 11am on a Monday and I'm writing this as it comes through my head. Enough for the preface... my point is: Sometimes blogging is really cruel. Sometimes I feel like it's not worth it. Between the passive aggressive tweets between bloggers, the cliques and the armies, the competition that we all feel no matter where we stand on traffic, followers or sponsors, it gets old fast. That's not to say I'm not incredibly blessed to have each and every one of you who read my blog. Holy moly, I never in a million years would have imagined that I'd be in this position. I pinch myself daily. But lately I've found myself almost avoiding my blog because I feel like it's surrounded by "so much"... So much what? I'm not sure. 

I hate signing onto Twitter to see the passive aggressive battles between people, and then their followers/friends who honestly really have no business chiming in. A disagreement is often between two people, that's where it should be left. I don't chime in anywhere because I don't know the full story and those offending actions were not directed at me therefore it's not my place. Maybe it's a little hypocritical of me to talk about this here. It seems like I'm certainly "chiming in" now, doesn't it? I try not to pass judgement on people who decide to defend their friends, etc, but when my entire Twitter feed is nothing but passive aggressive attacks on people, I really just kind of want to unfollow everyone. People are alerting everyone of their mean comments, directing straight to the originator, and basically ganging up on them. Yes, it hurts to get a mean comment... but to expect the entire internet to explode over it is just dumb. I get mean comments from time to time. I simply don't post them. Why? Because I don't need anyone's help defending myself. In fact, I don't feel the need to defend myself at all. It's unfortunate that some people out there just won't like us, but that's reality. It took me a long time with this little blog to realize that we don't really need everyone's approval. But that's another thing...

The constant need for validation. Love it or hate it, we all blog for slightly narcissistic reasons. Yes, we can drape that in the idea that we're doing it for our future children or for our family members far away, and to an extent it may be true. But we all have selfish desires in there, too. The validating comments feel nice, don't they? Why is it that one little mean one gets everyone up in arms? I'll admit that I used to be much more likely to pay a single mean comment more attention than tens or hundreds of validating ones, and that's truly sad. So many of you take time out of your day to come by LCH and spread so much support and appreciation, and I was cheapening that by letting one little person get me upset. I obviously decided that needed to change. With outfit posts, wedding ideas and "courtesy of" wares, when does the line of authentic and "just doing it for stuff" (stuff being comments, praise or free items) meet? Feeling entitled to a sponsorship or free items is a regular thought in the blog world. Seeing someone with less traffic or followers land a sweet brand, you find yourself wondering "Why didn't they contact me?"... It's sick. It's so sick! It could be as simple as eliminating sponsorships all together or saying no to brands wanting to partner up, but would that really solve anything? And the sense of entitlement followed by the "She's copying me!" attitude. We all have ideas that we think are original. The truth of the matter is that they were inspired by something, somewhere. Trying to tear someone down for doing something similar to you won't get you anywhere. It'll simply make you look catty. It's about community, not competition! Let's build each other up! 

I love having the ability to work with brands that I admire and bringing you things I truly believe in. Be it by hosting a giveaway where one of you gets something awesome or sharing discount codes and awesome outfits. But this is a blog, not a billboard. I've worked with brands that I ended up absolutely despising. Why? Their attitude toward bloggers, readers, and just people in general. The lack of professionalism in their emails. A few have still made it to the blog and I've even gone so far as to delete the posts in hindsight. I will not, under any circumstances, promote a company that I am less than pleased with. I see other bloggers out there promoting liquor when they're pregnant, hot sauce (?!?! how is that relevant?!), dog food, etc. Things that are in no way related to their blogs. They are billboards. It's easy to fall into the hole of accepting every single sponsorship opportunity that comes your way, along with anything free that people want to send you. It's so easy to just say yes. But that's when we start to lose ourselves. The truly ironic thing about this post is that I have a few outfits scheduled that are 100% gifted from a brand. I toyed with the idea of deleting them entirely but these were items I was able to pick myself and style for a purpose: guest posting. I feel comfortable doing something like that because I actually put in some work for them. I'm not blindly shilling out things for the sake of shilling. But you may have a different opinion on that (and I invite you to share that below!).

If 75% of your outfit is "courtesy of" then are you staying true to yourself or are you simply an advertisement? I could go on and on about how some brands take advantage of bloggers but that's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to point out certain things that I've come to realize I really cannot handle in the blogging world... or at least in my blogging world. It's so easy to compare yourself to others. Oh she has more followers, but she gets more traffic, oh she has all of these great sponsorships... why?! We end up only hurting ourselves. Blogging is such an amazing resource. You've got mothers, crafters, designers, business owners, corporate execs, etc. Someone out there will tickle your fancy for a certain subject or be able to answer your question in an instant. That's amazing! But are we doing it for the right reasons?

I see so many bloggers who seem to do certain things only for their personal gain. Be it chat someone up on Twitter, suck up and be all "buddy buddy" for the bragging rights, or to befriend another blogger so they may get some of their spotlight. It's awful to feel this way. To see things about people who you want so terribly to like. I can't quite make myself strive for that clique. I don't care if you have 2 followers, 2 million, or no blog at all. And so many bloggers are like that! So many are totally carefree about who you are or where you come from. They return your emails, they tweet back, and occasionally comment on your blog (I need to get better at that!). I realized this weekend that there are so many of you who make me a part of your day, you tweet at me, you support me in these silly juvenile competitions and you read about my often not-too-exciting day. But I know so little about you! I want to know all of you! If that's even possible! I want to know you because you bring joy into my days. Not because you have 10,000 blog followers on Google Reader. I don't want to be BFF with the ~Big Bloggers or the CEOs of the blogosphere. This isn't a post to say "Oh I'm so much better than all of those guys" (those guys being bloggers who get consumed by sponsors, followers, traffic, etc) because I've been there. I'm trying to pull myself out of that hole now. I just want to share things that I like and find other people that like them, too.

This entire post has been nothing but verbal diarrhea and I apologize. I'm not going to go back and edit it or weed out certain parts because this is 100% straight from my brain. An often jumbled and repetitive mess about my original point. I go off on tangents and I don't really form a complete thought. That's okay. I just wanted to share that sometimes I have a problem with blogging and sometimes I want to run as far away from it as possible. With that being said, I'm going to have scheduled posts for the rest of the week (yes, those outfits from LuLu*s to buy me some time!). I'm going to take this time to focus on design commissions, getting the Honeybean ready to pick up this weekend (I hope!), and giving myself some honest time to figure out what exactly it is I want to blog about. I don't want to be a 100% superficial blogger. Hence this post. Sometimes it's nice to know that the person behind the blog isn't a machine that churns out advertisements and statistics. A huge part of me is terrified to post this and I know I'll want to hit "delete" as soon as I hit "Publish" but sometimes it feels good to tell the truth. I hope this is one of those times! xo

Edited to add: I wanted to throw this in before anyone gets the wrong idea: When I wrote this, I was talking about myself. To a certain degree. I may not tweet my passive aggressions toward other bloggers, but I think them. And that's just as nasty. I've been running away from my blog for weeks now, abandoning personal posts for sponsored ones because it was "easy"... I've obsessed over numbers and traffic and things of that sort for far too long. This post was to bring myself to honesty. I said it in the post itself... I'm pulling myself out of that hole now. At least I'm trying. And if you've found yourself there then I urge you to do the same. Don't lose your voice because of anything trivial like this. If you've made a mistake in the past, don't dwell on it. Learn from it. Learn what is important to you and your blog, and then do that! I want to focus more on original content and less on shilling. I want to focus more on each of you as individuals, not a collective number.

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