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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lessons :: On finding my place in the blogosphere (if there's a spot left)



I recently questioned whether or not to keep blogging.

I kept the thoughts to myself and quietly wondered what my life would be like if I stopped. Would it be less fun, or less busy? Would I be less happy, or less stressed? Would I lose the motivation to write every day, or would I write with the freedom of knowing it was for my eyes only? Would things be worse... or better?

You may be surprised that I was having this battle in my mind, because just under two months ago I wrote this post about my future blog plans. However, within that short period of time, things occurred that forced me to take breaks from the on-line world. When life changes and personal emergencies happen -- and they do happen, to all of us -- the blogosphere suddenly doesn't seem so important.

In her recent post on time management, Emma brings up tiers of importance: "...the top tier is my family and my career, next is school and my hobbies, next is gym time and leisure/social activities..." My tiers have shifted, and I'm not sure where my blog fits in. I have a full-time job that keeps me busy 50+ hours per week, I try to have a social life, and I need personal 'me' time as well. You may have noticed that I've been posting less and less every month.

This blog has changed over the past year and five months since I started it, but my main goal has been the same: to make a career out of The Loudmouth Lifestyle. After putting hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars into it, though, and still not being at the place I want to be, I'm starting to question it all. Do I really have the time and money for something that may end up being nothing? How long do I try before it's better to give up? With millions of blogs out there, why do I feel like I deserve to stand out? What's the point of all this?

While she was in town, my sister and I discussed our similar struggles with different forms of creativity. She is a hardworking, talented musician (see her band and solo projects). We were shopping in Los Feliz when she suddenly stopped and listened to the song coming through the store's speakers. "I met this girl at a party in Detroit three years ago. She told me to e-mail her so we could collaborate, but I forgot to. And now her album is playing at Urban Outfitters."

What if she had contacted her? Would my sister's situation be different now? I'm a firm believer in fate, and what's meant to be will be no matter what. But Elizabeth has the opposite view -- she believes only in chance and coincidence and causality. She believes that she messed up, missed out. Hearing her opinions made me realize something terrifying: I may not have a personal story written out for me. There may not be a dream job I'm meant to achieve. Blogging may not be meant for me after all -- maybe nothing is.

One thing that we can all agree on, though, is that we can't control every aspect of our lives. We can't decide our futures. So, I don't know what's going to happen with this blog -- and I don't know if I want to continue pursuing this dream. Every day that I do is a risk that I might fail. I know that most bloggers, and creative people in general, go through this. I know that most people will tell me to keep trying, and keep working, and keep holding on to my dreams. But sometimes, I wonder if it would be healthier to just let them go...

34 comments:

  1. Stephanie--I really think you have to want to blog for your own intrinsic reasons...and less for the fame it might bring you. Perhaps the question you're really asking is what can you do that is whole-hearted.

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    1. I didn't realize that this post gave off that vibe. Thanks for the input, but my goals do come from a good place. I have always had a passion for writing and photography, and blogging is a good way for me to focus on those hobbies. I have also always wanted to inspire people, especially women, in a positive way; I think blogging is a good forum for that, as well. I don't know if I ever mentioned fame in this post, but becoming famous would allow me to reach more women. This blog comes from my heart, and I don't want anyone to think otherwise.

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  2. Yaaawwwwnnnn...... This is by far your worst posting... Just kidding!!!! What would we do without our obnoxious loudmouth!?!?!?!? I think you should push to the brink of exhaustion and then, if it doesn't work out you may shift your goals. Sometimes you just need to follow your intuition...

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  3. Stephanie, I love your honesty and willingness to share your heart. We have so many seasons of life and sometimes we need to cut certain things out to allow room for different priorities. You may need to do that now, and that's okay. Or you might decide you love blogging and just needed a breather. Either way, do what is right for you. *hugs*
    Catherine Denton
    Catherine Denton

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  4. This post is a little depressing but also a big eye opener for me as well. I really do hope to see you keep posting. There are many of us out here that love you blog.

    Carlee

    http://allthingsaveragegirl.blogspot.com/

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  5. Oh Stephanie,
    we don't really 'know' each other very well, but I too have thought these exact same thoughts over the past year or so. Am I directing my creative energy into the wrong outlet? As we know, blogging is a full time commitment and maybe I should be going in another direction as well. But, then again, I can channel my creativity here for free. So does that just mean I'm too lazy to put in more effort?
    ( I used to think I was the oNLy over 40 blogger out there and I was going to change the world, LOL and ouch)
    I do know that my heart usually win out in the end, and sometimes I prolong the inevitable.
    I would probably meditate on it and try to get out the real "feelings" behind your thoughts...
    til then, there isn't anything you can't do,un-do or re-do!
    I wish you the best of luck and follow your beautiful heart,
    <3
    Reva

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  6. I think that once you lose the joy of it and all it becomes is a headache then its time to let go, altho we would hate to lose you. I do like that it keeps you in your toes and you keep working toward your goals, and its fun to share it with all of us. It's your life, its your call. But we love you.

    Vintagehoneybee.blogspot.com

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  7. I've been feeling this sense of trying to find your purpose in your Blog posts recently. the nice thing about a blog is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Maybe you're trying to make it something that's not you. Most of us are not going to make a substantial amount of money blogging. We're not going to become celebrities either. So you have to do it because you love it.
    I only post twice a week because that's what I can manage. Don't force yourself to post more than you have time or energy for. Your life is different now, maybe your blog should Change with you.
    I recommend you take a few days off, refocus (or weeks) off and start fresh when you want to write something.

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  8. Do what you love. And if you don't love it, that's fine! I would miss you greatly...you inspire me, girl. I love your optimism. And you know what? I love this introspective darkness that you've been sharing too. It's honest. There needs to be balance between light and shadows....I don't find it depressing, just, true. And thank you for that.
    Whatever you want to do, do it. I think to a certain degree, we are in control, and responsible for where our lives go. But shit happens too. Shit that you have no control over, that's not a bad thing either...it just. IS! See, balance!
    Whatever you decide, will be fine. Don't regret anything, and look for the second star on the right....;) <3
    thanks for everything, Steph
    -Jude

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  9. I am going through a similar appraisal of my own career and in particular my promotion which began nearly a year ago now. I too have looked at my priorities and questioned recently if this is what I should be doing with my time and if this job allows me to fulfill my mission in life or if it impedes it. I have also been asking if I would be happier if I returned to my former position, and happiness is important.
    The question for you is clearly not whether to write or not; you and writing are inseparable. Just like your sis will never stop singing. The question becomes is this the best venue for my talent and creativity and is this the best forum in which I can serve my fellow man/woman right now. Or do I need to persevere in order to hone a skill or prepare myself for the next step. These are tough choices, and ones we share, regardless of our age or our specific gift. I would tell your sister that had she sent that email, it still does not say where she would be right now, or how far that opportunity would have taken her away from another one that may be in her path if she continues on the road she is on. These may be tough choices but the good news is we have them. They are ours to make. Yet, along with that freedom, responsibility looms large. I prefer to try to see the big picture. To take the focus off of just myself, zoom out and try to see where I would best fit into the scheme of things. Living for oneself soon becomes empty. But when we step away from the trees so that we can see the forest, sometimes what we need to do becomes a bit clearer. And as someone who is big on faith, rather than just fate and chance, I strive to ask the one who created me and gave me my gift to lead me and show me how and when to best put those gifts to work to help others, and by doing so, I am also energized and fulfilled. But even in saying that,I hope I make the right choice. Because pride and fear can sometimes get in the way. But faith, hope and love are the best guides I have found. Love you too much my beloved Stephanie.

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  10. Never give up on your dreams! Keep that chin up and maybe take a step back for a while but I don't think you should give up entirely!

    http://bel-bien.blogspot.com/

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  11. PS, there is one more thing i thought of...
    Once someone told me (and it makes perfect sense)that 'You're right where you're supposed to be, or you'd be somewhere else').
    That hit me like a ton of bricks.
    hugs
    Reva

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  12. dreams are the only things that keep us going.if your dreams have changed that's great i know my have in the course a a year. as for continuing to blog if you no longer love it stop, or take a break i did that for a couple months to see if blogging was something i could do with out. and if for you it is then stop but if not keep going. i'm sure you will have a lot of support from the blogosphere with whatever choice you make.
    xo
    jes

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  13. Oh gosh, I go through this thought process at least once a month! Where I wonder what the point is, if anyone even reads my blog, would anyone notice if it just wasn't there one day and, you know what? I just keep going. Why? Because I love it.

    I work 50+ hours a week in an industry that I have wanted to work in since I was 15. I work in television which, to some, seems fascinating but it can no longer compete with my desire to write and blog and have my own business where I can creatively control every part of it.

    I have to say that I disagree with the idea that we have no control over our future. You quoted a post I read by Emma the other day and her and Elsie are the prime example why our future is ours to determine. They worked their butts off for YEARS and have become extremely successful off their own backs, taking opportunities that come to them, and a lot of hard work. If nothing else, they should be motivation for anyone trying to find their little place in the blogosphere.

    I think it all comes down to how badly people want their dreams. If you want it badly enough you will just keep going and just keep going until you get where you want to be. And if not, then that is the decision you made because it was right for you at the time, and that's totally fine too!

    Just my thoughts anyway! Because I have to have this talk with myself often :D

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  14. I've been going through something similar - 3 months ago I thought I was going to be able to get a job in the field which I've trained 10 years to be in and, in process, gone $70,000 into debt for. And it's just not happening. Not now at least. And that really sucks and is forcing a lot of reevaluation on my part. But some times you have to just roll with the punches because there are no other choices. Life is about change and reconfiguring things, even when it's painful.

    Courtney ~ http://sartorialsidelines.com

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  15. I'm really not liking the "do what you love" comments. I would venture to guess that even those commenters aren't doing what they love...not every second of every day. I think that sort of advice seems awesome, and it feels awesome when you read it, but what does it mean?

    Give up blogging, something that can definitely be described as who you want to be since it is writing, because you feel a little lost right now and are unsure of where you stand? Why not change it? Why not stick out the weirdness, set up a rhythm, and give it a few months?

    In my life, I meet very few people who really do what they love. I am the kind of person who will decide, in a second, to stop doing something (or to start doing something) because where I am is not making me happy right now. This means I have doubled my age in jobs I have had. I have a resume that is not super amazing, because I have done so much that I don't have a specific focus. I have never made more than several thousand below the poverty level. I am not considered a success on paper. But I have traveled all over and met wonderful people and felt so happy...except for all the times when I am broke an unable to do day to day things because I don't have the kind of money required to do those things. And I miss my friends, all of whom live at least 3 hours away. It is wonderful that I have lived the life I have, and I would say that I "do what I love" on the regular. But it is VERY inconvenient. It is not socially acceptable, and it has made my future very uncertain.

    Does that sound awesome? I'm not sure. Maybe it does. Maybe it is time to ditch this blog, put together your writing portfolio, and start submitting it anywhere. Could you be writing for a paper or a different, more established blog? Is this holding you back from find other writing jobs?

    Or could this be fantastic practice?

    These are some more of the things I wonder as I re-read this and these comments.

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  16. If you want it than you can have it. You decide. Bottom line. Life is a struggle against the doubt. The people who win in the end are the ones who can pass the doubt and make it to the other side. I found your blog because I noticed it mentioned on a very famous blog and I love reading your perspective. Focus on adding value to the world and the value will have no chance to get back to you.

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  17. I'm not one to get too wordy when it comes to giving advice without really, really knowing a person- but what I can say is this: Do you enjoy posting? What part of it do you enjoy? If you like posting outfit photos, just do that- or loudmouth lessons- continue to do that. Don't worry about what readers want- this blog is about you, and post exactly what you want. People who can appreciate you for the highly spirited, fun, pretty person you are will continue to read, comment and enjoy- and the other people who are here for 'glamour' or getting noticed, etc.. well, they don't matter. There's nothing wrong with fighting for what you want, but don't turn it into a battle between what you love and what you feel obligated to do because of money or time spent. There will always be more time, and even more money, but you can't go back in time so ultimately, all that matters is that you're happy. It's okay to be conflicted.. it'll all balance out eventually.

    Personally, I enjoy your posts :) I'm sure many people do! And whatever you decide to do, you will be supported by those who respect and care for you.

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  18. Goals/Dreams?Aspirations (whatever you call them!) change. And that is okay. That doesn't make you a quitter, just means in some way you have also changed. Whatever happens, feel secure in your decision and make it for you.

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  19. Many of us go through this, but not just in blogging, life in general or career changes... it happens! For myself I had to make a risky and very difficult decision years ago to shift careers. Was it scary, definitely, but in the end the deciding factor was finding "my" true passion and happiness also what was significant to "me" not what others thought. You're the only one who can decide if blogging is for you or not. Regardless of fame or fortune, etc. sometimes it's when we stop and take a step back, evaluating our situation (even write down our passions/wants/expectations)is when the path meant for us becomes more clearer (but, that's just my experience.) We all have a purpose. but, also at times "doing what we love" isn't necessarily our primary job, sometimes it is those hobbies that later form into other ventures that we love. I wish you confidence, clarity and peace in finding exactly what you want. Many blessings to you dear. Don't lose hope! -xxoo

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  20. First of all? Hi. I'm sorry I've been such a ghost lately - since starting a second blog I've been going like mad and it hasn't given me a chance to stop by and visit my favorite blogger ladies.

    Secondly, on certain levels of what you're going through I can really, really relate. I think the difficult thing about blogging is that even though it's evolved so much it's still a very young form of publication. For people who want to make careers from writing it seems like the perfect place to start, so this is what we flock to. But then what? I started The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower in order to gauge whether or not there was an audience for my writing, and when I found that people were actually interested, that my writing seemed to stand out, I thought I could just keep going. Now I write two blogs full-time, and as far as income...I'll just say that something's gotta give. And my greatest hope is that the 'something' will involve one of my blogs. But what if it doesn't? That's the ultimate question, and it's been plaguing me like it's been plaguing you. I'm sure it plagues all of us who think blogging will be the answer to our writing aspirations. And it may come true, but I think every writer goes through a phase where they question it -- blogging simply may not be the proper medium for everyone. Several authors I've worked with on Literary Inklings have said they don't know why I'm not publishing fiction. I very often wonder if I'd stand a better chance with something like that, but in some ways I think it's my biggest dream - to make a living writing novels - and therefore my biggest fear. So I can't commit to it. Maybe someday I will, but with every tick of the clock 'someday' becomes more and more of a fairytale.

    The thing that keeps me going, personally, is that silly belief that dreams come true. 'Someday' might be a fairytale, but I believe in fairytales. Life would be so boring if people didn't pursue their dreams, because then there'd be no one out there living them. I think about what I'd do if I wasn't writing - an atrocious situation, as it always ends in "nine-to-five" and I swore when I was very young that I would NEVER be someone who lived for the weekend, it was the most depressing thing in the world to me. That drives me to keep writing, all or nothing. I think the thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not writing is your passion - if there's nothing else you'd rather be doing, do this*. Nose to the grindstone, make a plan, be realistic but allow for general awesomeness to happen, too. One of my favorite motivations is what Howard Thurman said: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

    *PS Have you seen this? I think it would resonate, it did for me. (: Love you, sweetie! xo

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    1. Hoooly crap, I didn't think it was that long...sorry!

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  21. Wow Stephanie, very open and honest. I think we all go through this at some point. I know I've stopped and asked, what would I do with my spare time if I didn't blog. Usually at that point something cool happens. Last time I was seriously considering ending my blog Adobe shared one of my photoshop tutorials. I took that as a sign to stick with it. The truth is, just like you, it's an avenue to explore and learn writing and photography. I ended up deciding I would be a weekly blogger. That was I still enjoy the journey and there is less pressure that I put on my self. Plus I really do enjoy and love it and hope that I inspire other women in a positive way.

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  22. I've been reading your blog here since it began- I found you on Kristy's blog contest! I think you've grown leaps and bounds, and while the transition isn't easy and differs for every person, I truly believe dreams are attainable if they are realistic. Wanting to learn how to grow wings and fly? Probably not a dream that will happen. Wanting to be a certain profession (unless of course you want to be a brain surgeon and have no hands, or something like that), is definitely a dream worth pursuing. You're young, and you're talented- I could definitely see you starting an indie web magazine on style, and pushing the boundaries. I've found we are often our own worst critics- we must push past that and believe in ourselves, or else no one else will- and that's not a good marketing technique right? Love you! Whatever you decide- even if it means you redefine your dream to something else, you'll have tons of friends (real and online) cheering you on.

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  23. hey steph!

    i have these same questions a lot of the time too. but i think in the end we blog because of all of the amazing connections! think about all the people you now know.. if it werent for our humble little blogs we would never know each other! :)

    Xo,
    steffy
    Steffys Pros and Cons

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  24. Hello friend,

    Sometimes it seems like certain dreams, goals, hopes, wishes, whatever you call them, are unattainable, no matter how hard we try & wish for them. I'm not one who likes to settle and just move along, I have to continue to push forward. In the past year and a half, since I discovered your blog & met you, I've gotten to know you and watched your blog grow. Your blog still continues to grow each & every day that you think about it. Remember, things do change, they do grow, but not as fast as we want them to. I seriously love your blog, and would miss it incredibly if you decided to stop. However, if your blog becomes a chore to you, or something that you trudge along to post - it's time for a break. Thanks for being so open & honest in this post - really laying it out there for all to read, see, & feel. And believe me, Steph, even though we are all just pictures on the screen & comments & tweets, we do feel how you feel. I hope you can find your way through this time, and do what you feel is best for you in your life right now. Just know you are one of my favorite friends I've met thru blogging, and I honestly don't know where I'd be without ya. Love to you, sweets.

    xo

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  25. But girl... I just found you and we just started being friends! As a brand new blogger, I can understand these fears and thoughts. I wonder this everyday, asking myself, what will make me succeed. But the thing is, blogging shouldn't be for anyone else, it should be for me. It is my time to look at myself and find something that is beautiful and worth sharing with the world. You are beautiful, funny, creative, and loud... that is worth sharing with the world. Success happens when timing, fate, and hard work collide together! You need all three. I believe we all have a destiny but it takes hard work to get there. Sitting around all day isn't going to make it happen. I have been looking forward to working with you in June so I hope you keep blogging. I have really enjoyed getting to know you. Xoxo

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  26. I've had that same battle in my head lately, especially since I've been working more and more. To be honest, I've been quite lazy with my blog. But I do hope you find the right decision for you :)

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  27. I've never thought "what would it be like if I just stopped?", but I have known that some day my blog will expire. Some day I will have to stop blogging, and I've been meaning to write about it, but just couldn't be inspired- BUT you just inspired me again! Also, it's a question that you have to answer for yourself; only you have the right answer. Now having seen people go for big dreams such as yours, if in doubt, pursue your dream every day, however have your backup plan. -Jessica

    THEJESSICALBLOG.COM

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  28. stephanie,

    i completely understand where you're coming from here because i'm going through the same struggle with my own writing. but i just want to say that it's inspiring to see you out in california working to achieve your dreams! keep working at it! who knows? maybe someday we'll both be in places where we can look back at this time and think how silly it seemed that we even doubted ourselves.

    luke

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  29. This hits so, so close to home in terms of my slapped-together career as a writer. It just gets so depressing sometimes, but I haven't given up quite yet. Not sure what that means for the future. Ugh...

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  30. oh dearest steph. yes, every blogger goes through, "what the hell am i doing?" thoughts. countless hours of time, effort, and work go into blogging and it's always challenging to stay committed. But really I think you should have a heart to heart with your blog. What do you want it to be, how do you want it to spell your income? How do you want to make it your life? There has been a crazy influx of slasher careers; basically people who are bloggers/writers/site designers/social media consultants...people who do many things that are stemmed from the interwebs and sew that into a career and a way to make a living. Have an open mind to what your blogging can do for you and what you can do with your blog before wanting to shut down. i think when you have clear intentions it helps define your actions.

    Also how cute is Casee Marie?

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  31. I feel this way daily since I am new to blogging. Granted I had my photography blog but it was just for my clients. Now it is all so different. I think at the end of the day, I started my blog for me and while having readers is fantastic, I will keep it going for me. I would love to one day do it for a full time job but in the mean time I would be lying if I said I don't love writing daily. It can be a struggle to get a post out every day but I just focus on doing the best I can. Plus, I love sharing the personal side of my photography.

    Your blog is honestly my favorite out of ANY blog I have seen (with a Beautiful Mess being a close second) and I think you have a voice that is strong, fun, honest, and well...loud! Don't stop blogging! Just find ways to make it more fun again!

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  32. I could totally relate to how you feel. Most recently I went through a period of should I keep blogging? Should I keep going with this book I'm writing? It was when I found out I was pregnant and having my very first child. Talk about all of your priorities really shifting! I already spent years (and money!)chasing a career that in the end wasn't for me and I'm always scared of repeating that mistake.

    My advice to you would be to really ask yourself what is the one thing you would do all day everyday for free? What is that thing that gets you excited even when you're having a crappy day? Whatever that thing is, it's your passion and it will never fail you because it's what makes you who you are.

    As for the blog, everyone should take a break from it, be it a week or a month or two. If you start to really miss it, then the answer is clear. If not, during that time you can explore what your other interests are. Because in the end, if your heart isn't in your blog, you're never going to be in the place you want to be.

    I'm a firm believer that everything that happens in one's life is for a reason and just prepares you for what you were really meant to do!

    Good luck to you!

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