Some words on not being the 'right' kind of competitive

This post has been in my drafts for months because I've been trying to find the right words. In coming to a realisation about myself and sharing what I've discovered I risk coming across an a self-indulgent prat, but I'm sharing this for anyone else who isn't competitive in the 'usual' way and feels out of place in the world. This post is long and may be rambling so grab a cuppa.

It's important to say I see competitiveness and being driven as different things. You can set yourself goals and pursue them independently of anyone else - that's being driven or goal-oriented. Then there's competitiveness, where a person has goals but they're about being elevated above others in their field and the prestige that it brings

I've been a plus size blogger since 2012, and in that time I've gone from a nervous wreck terrified of putting full length photos of myself into a blog post (yes, really!) to someone who's posted naked photos on Instagram to my 10k followers and shared them on my personal Facebook page for most of my friends and family to see. Although I've come on leaps and bounds in body confidence since my early days, one area of growth has been stilted until very recently - my confidence with my place as a blogger. I briefly touched on my 'I'm not wooooorthy!' feelings in my recent post 'About self-limiting thoughts' and I wanted to expand on that.

I've gone through every positive and negative emotion there is in my journey as a blogger, and although I've felt great about the journey of self love I've been on for 6 years I always felt 'less than' compared to other bloggers. I think it's my personality - I've always felt like I don't belong anywhere or that I'm a black sheep, and that really inhibits the way I make relationships. Because I never felt like I belonged, I never really tried to. Because I rarely felt like I was on an equal footing with other bloggers I didn't try to befriend many (again, the 'I'm not worthy!' shtick). I wonder if people think I'm up my own arse because ironically I've been crippled with self doubt. I'm happy to say I've got my head right now and I feel enthused about blogging again and I don't have any 'I'm not worthy!' moments at all, but I want to share this for other people who may have similar feelings.

I started blogging as a hobby but it quickly changed into something I do because I want to help other female-identifying humans feel better about their bodies. Beyond that I have modest goals. This wasn't always the case though, because a year or two ago I got too caught up in the lives of some of the UK's top bloggers (yeah, the ones I was too scared to befriend, lol!) and I started to think I had to be everything they are to be a success. I felt too old, too fat, too something (or maybe not enough), when all I needed was to drop the insecurities. I felt like shit because I wasn't going to many events or getting many collaborations, but I'd also forgotten I'm a chronically ill woman who has limited time and energy! After I did some self-examination I realised I didn't want any of the things I thought I did. I was measuring my worth in all the wrong ways.

I made my life a misery for a long time because I got caught up with other people's dreams. I ruined my self esteem with needless comparisons, but now I feel like a success because I've stopped comparing myself to anyone. I had to go the long way around to realise that success is being happy at what you do. Everything else is a bonus and only YOU get to decide what success means - don't make my mistake. If you want to make a million quid, go get it you badass. If you want 100k social media followers, go get your clan. If you want to help people, put your heart out there and connect. If you have a hobby blog because it helps your mental health, you go crush it, babe! NO ONE can tell you what success means to you. 

I do have goals, but I don't often talk about them - they're for me. I love growing my social media in an organic way and I've gathered over 8k new followers across all platforms in the last year alone. I do that for myself because I want to connect with as many like minded souls as possible, not compete with other people's social media followings.

But it feels like unless you're competitive in a fierce, public, outspoken way, people don't rate you.

It's like you have to be bouncing up and down on a trampoline screaming LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEE for people to value you, and that's not me. I don't know if it's the empath in me, but reaching people at their vulnerabilities is most important to me. Telling people that it's OK to love yourself no matter what, that's my jam. Above making money, above being everyone's friend, above making a career. Making money, making friends and making a career are all perfectly normal, acceptable and healthy goals for bloggers. I realise I'm the weird one here, as many bloggers are making serious moolah from their blogs. That's not my prime goal though.

Here's what prompted this whole post: I entered a competition run by a plus size clothing company a few months ago, but the day before it closed I withdrew my entry. I was asked to enter by them, and I was flattered so I did, but it didn't sit right with me before long. Some of you know that I entered the CowCow competition late last year which was based on social media likes as votes, just like this competition I pulled out of. It wasn't losing the CowCow competition that put me off competitions like these. I was thrilled when Kitty beat me, absolutely thrilled for her - I couldn't have lost to a nicer person. It's the process itself - having to constantly badger people to vote. It all comes down to how comfortable you are with begging for votes and how much people like you compared to your blogger friends. It's trial by popularity and the whole thing made me feel dirty and horrible so I pulled out.

So, yes, I avoid awards and competitions. It's not because I don't want people to value me - I DO. I feel dirty for having to ASK to be valued. People should value you because they value you, not because you ask them to. I had an email back from the company and they said they're sorry I've pulled out as they like what I represent, and that I "should be confident." I'm not pushy, so they assumed I have no confidence. Does confidence in 2017 mean you have to be pushy and aggressive?! Maybe I'm too old for this shit. 😁

In any competition for praise, awards or resources we base our worth on how we measure up in comparison to others. You're rarely enough in your own right - it always has to be about where you sit in the pecking order compared to someone else. Other people treat you according to how you're rated in these competitions, both peers and companies. This is so prevalent it seems the company in question assumed I don't have enough confidence because I didn't want to have my worth calculated by others and donated back to me. Just because I don't want to fiercely compete for kudos attributed to me by others doesn't mean I'm not ambitious or confident.

I'm ambitious in a different way.

I have goals for myself/my blog but I don't base my self esteem on a process which puts some people down to lift up others. I can set goals for myself privately and quietly smash them without needing people to congratulate me.

I don't need to be told that I'm worth more than someone (but less than someone else) to know my value. I know my value now.

I often feel alone in blogging. I'll never be ambitious in the way expected of me, and thus I will always be thought less of by those who hold the power/tell others who to value. NEVER does my lack of competitiveness mean I don't value myself.

Don't worry if you're not competitive like others. Don't worry if you're not competitive at all. It doesn't mean you don't have goals for yourself and you're not driven - it just means you're different, and that's OK. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is it's OK not to want the same things as other people, and that in itself is a gift I'd never have learned if not for blogging. 

Thanks for reading. Leah xoxo


  1. Reading this has made me feel so much better, I have been feeling rubbish of late and like I don't have a place within the blogging world. Sometimes we need to remember to march to the beat of our own drum, my blog will never become my career at that is okay but it can be hard to remember these things when you feel like your voice is being drowned out xxx

    1. I'm glad it made you feel better Nikki. Blogging has changed so much in the last few years and there's no blogger school to enable you to deal with all the emotions the journey takes you on. When we started there were few blogging superstars in ordinary blogging, let ALONE in plus size blogging. But Plus Size Wars changed everything, and now we have the stalwarts Danie, Callie, Georgina etc. When you see other people doing AMAZING things it's easy to feel shit in comparison, but not everyone is destined to have that supernova rise to stardom.

      There's a place for all of us, and some of us may be rich, some poor, some fighting off collabs in our inboxes and some fighting tumbleweeds, but everybody is worthy. The most important thing I've learned is that my worth as a human isn't in any way lessened by the people who don't, won't or can't see my value as a human OR a blogger. In 30 years time (if I'm still alive) this period of my life won't shape my self esteem so why should I let it now? It's not worth counting the people who don't value us, let's just focus on the ones who do. <3 xxx

  2. “Does confidence in 2017 mean you have to be pushy and aggressive?! Maybe I'm too old for this shit.?”

    My tuppenceworth is that society as a whole has lost the idea of quiet strength. A couple of generations ago it was okay for Gary Cooper to be the “strong silent type” in movies like Friendly Persuasion and it was understood that these people existed even if the film goes to an extreme with him being a Quaker, people still knew these kinds of men in real life. Today though anyone, female or male, who is quiet is assumed to be weak. To be believed to be strong you have to be assertive, you have to have tee shirts with slogans on them about being a strong woman, you have to carry on about it telling everyone you're a feminist, and never, ever, ever shutting up. Women who know themselves, are confident in themselves, or are growing into confidence, and just get on with life are so often thought of as vulnerable. I often wear bright clothing but in other respects I can be reserved and almost hermity and I am getting a bit teed off with people assuming that I'm somehow oppressed because I'm not making a lot of noise about myself.

    1. Thanks for your comment Izabel. You make a really good point. I think because I grew up at a time when being humble was admirable it's hard for me to exist in current times. Some things I've taken to like they've been around forever, like selfie culture or being obsessed with Netflix, but so many other things are weird because of my age - I'm 43. For instance when this blog was new I found it cringe to have a blog Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account just for my blog. It seemed way too boastful, but I did it because I know if I stood any chance at all I had to. For a long time I felt stupid promoting my blog posts or talking about myself at all, but that became easier over time.

      Something I'm STILL not comfortable with is the modern braggadocio which is expected - perhaps even mandatory - to get ahead. The shoutiness needed to make people notice me feels gross, but I'm at peace with who I am now. I've realised small, modest goals are more than enough for me, and if people don't see me or value me then so be it. I see me, I value myself, and that's enough.

  3. Hi Leah, you have hit the nail on the head, again. I have been reading the blogs (I don’t have Instagram) of a few young fashion/beauty/lifestyle “influencers” and they always end up lamenting about how Instagram ultimately makes them feel inferior and hate their life. I can only imagine the negative feelings those Insta posts give to “normal” girls, who aren’t paid to spruke products and look gorgeous all day, every day. I am 49 years old and often wonder how I would have managed growing up with selfies, Facebook, blogs and Instagram during my formative years…. I’m grateful that I didn’t to be honest. And now, even though I can enjoy looking at the pretty girls with their expensive handbags and luxury holidays, I don’t feel any lesser for it. xxxxx

    1. Thanks Christy. I wouldn't want to be a child or teenager right now. I led a reasonably sheltered childhood - I went to church, I went to an all-girl senior school, and there was no internet. Still I found my teen years rather difficult, but then I suppose everyone does. If I had the reality star-obsessed internet in my face every day growing up my self esteem would've been lower than a sausage dog's knackers! I take my hat off to you as a parent, to all parents, as the job seems so much harder in current times.

      I don't follow people on Instagram who are famous for being famous. I follow a few actors and actresses who I admire, but I really limit my exposure to all that fame crap to protect my mental health. I don't follow people obsessed with thinness or preachy health fanatics. I don't even follow a lot of the more famous plus size bloggers (anywhere in the world), as too much of this 'aspirational' bullshit we're all supposed to crave for ourselves is actually toxic. We're coached to aspire for things and riches rather than being decent people and it leaves me empty. I like real people with real struggles and real lives, not people who are being paid to shill skinny tea or whatever the latest bullshit fad is. I'm glad you can look at all that stuff and feel none the less for it - that shows real strength. xxxxx

  4. I admire you and anyone who does this because to me it looks like alot of work. Those superstars who are on all social media, updating something every hour, I can't imagine doing life online. I would go mad. I tried blogging years ago on My Space, writing humorous life stories and it was hard to find something to write about everyday. Like Running with Scissors mentioned, I am glad to be from a time before the internet and cell phones existed. I feel I am online too much as it is, but there are days when I don't even pick up my phone. I can't imagine having my face glued to it, like my nieces do. Eventually, we will evolve, lose the ability to speak and develop really small thumbs to push tiny keys (just my theory, lol) Anyway, I think you have to be true to yourself and do what makes you happy...whether that is 1 million subscribers or a niche audience.

    1. I upload about 4 times a day usually and it is work if you want to say something thoughtful or helpful. You can't just throw flippant lines out there if you really want to connect with people. I know a lot of Instagram photos are prettiness for the sake of it and I do enjoy a pretty picture as much as the next person, but I like to look away from my screen too. :)

      Hahaha, I agree about the tiny thumbs! What did we do with our time before the internet?! It's definitely good to step away from a screen once in a while to keep our perspective. When I'm out for a day's exploring my phone is my camera, and that's it. I used to blog on MySpace too. I guess I've been blogging on and off since 2004. That's a long bloody time, but it does remind me that the urge to connect has been with me for a long time. We just have to remember the real life friends and not just the ones in our phones.

  5. I can totally relate. I'm a very ambitious person when it comes to my career, for example, but I always just compare my performance to "last year me" and try to think what I could do better this year. I HATE all kinds of competitions and I'm not competitive at all. I don't even like board games very much, haha! It's a bit difficult sometimes because the academic world is a competitive world, but I've been fairly successful so far by just doing my own thing. As for my blog, it has never been super popular and it never will be, I've made my peace with that and I'm not trying to be like other bloggers anymore. For example, I've done exactly one giveaway since I started blogging in 2011, because I don't want people to follow (and probably later unfollow) me just because they want to take part in a giveaway. Not that there's anything wrong with doing them, it's just not my thing. I blog because it makes me happy and for the occasional comment from women who tell me I have encouraged them to be more confident and happy.

    1. Hahaha, I don't like board games either, unless we're talking about Hungry Hippos! If I'm playing a board game and someone's super competitive, I think 'Oh well, if winning is so important to them let them have it.' I don't have the gene to feel the need to prove my worth by being 'better' than someone else. I loathe being around cut throat people. In my working life I let my work do the talking, not going out of my way to shmooze anyone to make my life easier, not playing politics, just getting satisfaction from my work ethic. Work was my life. But blogging is very different - you do have to schmooze people a little to make that first impression, you do have to be a bit of a politician about it (saying the right things, befriending the right people, not rocking the boat too much, etc). You can't just bulldoze your way to a place of moderate success purely by the amount of work you cram into each day. There are too many variables in blogging.

      In some ways I wish I could be a new blogger again, and play the game how it needs to be played. But at the same time I know I wouldn't do much differently, because doing all that stuff to get ahead would be a cynical move on my part, and it would make me fucking miserable! Although I had to go through some hard stuff mentally to realise my blog will never be as popular as I want it to be, that also brings a kind of freedom. There's no 'Oh, I ought to say yes to this collab as it'll be good for the blog' type thing. I turn down 90% of the 'opportunities' I get, mainly because they're from people who take the piss, and the only opportunity is for them to take advantage of me. Now I'm not trying to please ANY brand at all I can do and say whatever the fuck I like, and that's MY kind of success. :D