Wednesday, 19 April 2017
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. I felt much better for stepping down, even though that company has dropped me like a hot potato. 😕
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
Hi, I'm Leah. I blog about plus size fashion, cruelty free beauty and my life with Fibromyalgia, joint hypermobility disorder and CFS/ME. I live in SE England near the sea with my geeky hubby. I'm obsessed with Jason Momoa, rock and metal music, cats and Netflix. My interests include long romantic walks to the fridge, pissing trolls off by being fat and happy, and being outside in nature. I'm a hippie chick at heart, happiest where the birds sing and I can walk barefoot. I've got depression and anxiety disorder and I'm just trying to live my best life. Don't be a stranger! xoxo