Monday, January 7, 2013

When Blogging Hurts

While there may not be a "right" way to blog, there is definitely a wrong way.  I've done a lot of "wrong way" blogging.  Blogging that hurts.  Blogging that hurts my relationships, my full time job, and even my character.  While the right way can be hard to navigate, the wrong way is far too easy to fall into.  Like many of you, my blog began as a place for my mom and my neighbor to visit (when I reminded them and sent them the link for the 200th time).  It was fun and easy.  Somewhere along the line it began to grow.  And that was fun too.  But what I didn't know then is that you can never be too careful when growing your blog.  If you want to grow your audience and expand your voice, you must first fortify your boundaries and secure your purpose.  I did neither of those two.  My "wrong way blogging" looked something like this:

Spend a handful of hours at the office building tomorrow's post (instead of taking initiative in my job and seeking out  more responsibility).  Posts were more often then not "wish lists" from Anthropologie or people's wedding photos.  This was before pinterest -- I more or less treated my posts like a board.  A lot of stuff I liked, but didn't necessarily represent me.  A lot of Anthro posts from a girl who wears target and occasionally gets lucky at the j.crew sale rack.  After prepping a post I'd set out to comment on as many blogs as possible.  Perhaps not evening reading them, just finding something that caught my eye and then making some sort of generic comment.  Commenting for the sake of getting others to return the "favor."  On top of that I was pursuing giveaways -- at least a new giveaway every week.  Sometimes more.  After work (or blogging at work), I'd come home and do some more of all of that.

I let myself think that I could still be a quality employee.  After all, I was getting all my work done -- but I was dishonest in my silence that I had time to do more.  I let myself think that I was engaging my husband in a quality relationship when I was home -- but sincerity in listening and eye contact was sparse when my face was glued to a computer screen.  I let myself think that only doing things like cooking a new recipe or a home project should be done if you can stop every 5 seconds to take a picture of the process.  Technology was in my way.  Blogging was hurting.  I was hurting and hurting others.  I continually felt like I was lying to my boss.  I was consistently playing bitter defense when my husband questioned my time stewardship. I cringe at the disrespect I payed people for the sake of my blog.  And for what purpose?

The problem from the beginning was that I never set out with a why.  Why was I blogging?  I didn't have any reason to grow my blog outside of competition and challenge.  I was very rarely using my voice.  I wasn't building genuine relationships.  My purpose was 100% self gratification.  Nothing was natural about my growth.  It. Was. Exhausting.  For me, my husband, and I'm sure some others would admit the same.

Pregnancy finally was the grace that slowed me down.  I finally listened.  Took note of my pride and competition issues.  My laziness.  My idols.  My skewed hierarchy of responsibilities and priorities.  My lack of respect for not just others, but also myself.  I realized that although I had gone about it all wrong, I now had built a powerful platform.  I had an audience, now what was I going to do with them?  Things had to change.  I had to change.

Blogging for me looks different now.  For me, blogging is a hobby.  It's a network.  It's about relationships and inspiration.  It's about vulnerability and encouragement and even conviction.  It is a tool to explore myself and the depths of who God made me to be.  Sometimes my blog is a tool that reveals my sin.  At other times it wells up within me springs of joy and living water.

If I blog a few times a week.  That's wonderful.  If I get a couple comments.  Terrific! But I am on constant guard to not have my worth dictated by numbers and statistics.  I want blogging to be a way I enjoy freedom, not chains.  A way to give help and healing, not hurt.  Although I face temptations to fall into old patterns I work daily to fortify the cracks in my boundaries.  I don't live my life for my blog, and I don't blog for my life.

Blair McLeod has a passion for equipping others to find their voice and serve others. She is the mother of one, married to an artist, works full time as a middle school youth director, and loves Nashville, which she calls home. Blair has loved the relationships and doors that blogging has opened for her. One thing in particular she is super proud to be a part of is The Purpose Project -- that allows bloggers to use their own personal story and social media platforms to make a change in the lives of people in Africa. You can follow Blair's lifestyle and fashion blog at Wild & Precious.

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