Things I've learned about driving in my own lane

Things-I've-learned-about-driving-in-my-own-lane On blogging pressures //
[Free image via Pixabay]

I've avoided wordy posts for several weeks as I'm still painfully aware of my propensity to do great harm with the words I choose in haste. After that post of almost two months ago I've done a lot of soul searching and I've made some changes. The honest truth is anyone can bang out careless words in 5 minutes, but well considered ones take time, and I'm not great at that. Mea culpa. Some of these changes have been internal - examining why I lash out when frustrated instead of dealing with my emotions for instance, and I've also made changes to the way I interact with other bloggers. I wasn't happy when I wrote that post - quite clearly - and the way I consume all things blog-related needed to change.

I feel I've found my sweet spot, because I'm feeling really happy and really enthused about my blog, and stoked about creating outfits and content for the first time in a long time. My output this year has been the lowest it's been since I started blogging, and that's because I've felt lost and lacklustre all year. But since I made some changes I feel like a new woman!


Some bloggers lead extremely glamourous lives - bouncing from one event to another, having their hair and makeup done regularly, maybe diversifying into a bit of modelling, hanging out with their equally cool pals. Who wouldn't want parts of that life at a glance? But to be honest, I'd rather be on my sofa in front of Netflix than fighting through tube stations going to blogger events on a rainy Thursday. As much as I love being with other bloggers, I prefer interactions in small groups rather than a huge bunch of people because social anxiety sucks. As nice as it is to be sent things to review occasionally, it's a lot of work to photograph them, to represent things in an honest but diplomatic way (and to a deadline), and to deal with these things afterwards, especially in volume.

Don't get me wrong, the people I follow are amazing or I wouldn't be following them but it wasn't great for my mental health to be focused so much on that side of blogging, when there are actually important things we can do like actually changing women's lives and the way they see themselves. But falling into the trap of feeling like you're not good enough is easily done, and I'm sharing this in case anyone else fell down the same rabbit hole.

I follow a huge amount of lovely bloggers - bloggers of all levels. Brand new bloggers, ones like me who are making a small income from it (or hobby bloggers) and wildly successful bloggers with great talent who do it full time and are obviously destined for wonderful things. I'm an empath, and to many of you this'll read like mumbo-jumbo bullshit, but by concentrating on all the glitz and glamour of it I forgot who I am completely, a modest girl with modest means. Because I soak up so much from what I read with my empath vibes (often without realising I am being influenced) over time I slowly started to take on hopes and dreams that weren't my own. Bloggers are usually by nature very ambitious people, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But my aspirations were well above my reality and that created a lot of frustration in me.

I forgot to drive in my lane. But more than that, I started to feel like I wasn't enough. And obviously that's on me, that's to do with my self-esteem, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't spent a LOT of time thinking my face/body/blog/writing weren't good enough in comparison to the huge pool of talent around me. It even got as bad as for me to think 'What's the point?!' which led me to skip blogging for weeks at a time. I felt like posts where I opened up to people were pointless and outfit posts were pointless. So I was in a bad place.

In my soul searching after that post I realised that striving to be one of the cool kids (or even one of the people cool bloggers deign to reply to) wasn't me. I was striving to be part of a club which thrives on its own exclusivity, and it fucked with my head. But after my meltdown made me look inwards I realised I didn't really want any of that stuff anyway. I just thought I did, because *everyone* wants to take over the world with their blogs. And in thinking 'everybody' wanted the same thing made my sense of isolation even worse. No one ever talks about wanting to be mediocre. 😁

I'm a woman of limited capabilities and energy. I have several chronic illnesses, including really debilitating mental health issues. I'm time-poor because ME means I often need to sleep 12 hours a day. I'm just a girl who in in 2011 realised after losing a baby (and nearly dying in the process) that my previous 25 years of dieting was a waste of a fucking life, and I wanted to share this new-found enthusiasm with other women. So I turned the general waffle blog I'd had since 2009 into a plus size blog in 2011*, and here I am, 5 years later and still no wiser, apparently. Bwahahaha! *(My earlier posts were so awful I've deleted everything from up to and including 2011, so my blog now starts in 2012).

I've always been a weirdo, a black sheep, a loner. I always side with the underdog, so I surprised myself by wanting to be one of the cool kids. So what did I do once I realised I was being a bell end? I took a few steps to keep my feet on the ground. I made new follow lists on Twitter to diversify whose media I take in on a regular basis - not just plus size bloggers. I've deliberately distanced myself from some aspects of blogging because I need to keep my aspirations humble. If you're one of the people I've distanced myself from, it's not you, it's me. (I very much doubt anyone has noticed my silence. I only mention it because I don't want anyone to feel crappy thinking I'm avoiding them in particular).

I feel like me again. I feel like anything I want to write about is important enough to share, because I'm enough. I'm happy driving my lane, and when I'm happy I want good things for other people. That's a good feeling!

Here's a little bit of advice if you're feeling like you/your blog isn't good enough.

  1. Surround yourself with people who see the value in you and what you do. Concentrate on your friends, not acquaintances. Your ride or die clan will remind you that 1, you're bloody fabulous, and 2, there's a life outside of blogging.
  2. Focus on you. What were your goals when you set out to blog? If they were to make a million quid, go you, work for it! If it was to help other women, remember that. If it was to gain friends, awesome. Just remind yourself who you are and what you want. It's OK to want different things to everyone else. 
  3. Get your head out of blogging completely for at least a few hours. Go see your family, have a fun date with your significant other or a get together with a gaggle of pals. Even better, go away for a weekend and remind yourself life went on before blogging and it can again. When I get away to see my family for a couple of days I realise what really matters and my worries about blogging fall back into the correct priority. Blogging and social media are there to enhance your life, not BE your life.
  4. If you're comparing yourself to a few individuals or a group of people, mute them on Twitter or unfollow them on Facebook. You'll stay friends with them but you can get your head right then unmute/refollow later on. If anyone is upset by you looking after your mental health in this way they obviously don't care about you.
  5. Stop reading the blogs of people you compare yourself to for a little while until you have your confidence back. Soon enough you'll be feeling like you can take on the world and then you'll be excited to catch up on everyone's news again.
  6. Seek out your peers - the other people who are in a similar position to you and have the same kind of ambitions. If you get sucked into thinking you've got to be Nicolette Mason or it's not worth it, tell them to kick your arse! Every single blogger adds value to our vibrant scene. Don't forget it!
Big hugs to anyone who feels a bit swamped by all the pressures of blogging. It's not easy to deal with if you have mental health or self esteem issues. Comparison really is the thief of all joy.

Thanks for reading,
Leah xoxo

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