Warning: honest, vulnerable post ahead.
Someone I thought was a friend lists her favorite blogs... but doesn't mention mine. She lists several of our mutual friends' blogs. But not mine. I feel rejected... and then stupid for feeling rejected. It's only a stupid blog list, I say to myself. Get over it. It doesn't define your worth or determine your identity. But I can't shake it, much as I want to. I can hear the musicians warming up for a rousing chorus of "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat wo-orms."
I stumble across a website and enjoy looking around...until I notice her TTLB ranking is higher-- much higher-- than mine. Inexplicably, I feel like I am not accomplishing what I want with my own blog. And then I can't even feel happy for her.
Someone writes a blog post about something that involved me but doesn't even mention my name. I am stung by this. I spend a few hours feeling utterly superfluous.
I notice people posturing themselves to get more hits, higher rankings, more visibility, and admittedly, more popularity. I don't like when I see this-- most of all I don't like seeing it in myself. I grimace at my own reflection in the mirror. It is high school all over again. Make that junior high.
Another friend gets way more comments than I ever thought about getting. And I think that must mean she is a better writer, better friend, better person than I am. Am I the only one whose brain goes down these well-worn tracks unbidden?
Another blogger mentions me in a positive light in one of her posts and I spend the day thinking I am valuable after all. And then I wonder why I am giving anyone that kind of power-- for the positive or the negative-- to speak into my life. When there is only One voice I should be listening for.
Another friend decided to close her blog--which I love and will miss dearly--because of some changes in her life. And while I certainly understand and support her decision, I will miss her blawg and the way she inspired us all and went where some people would not dare to go-- including me. She made me feel a bit more courageous, but in the end the public scrutiny just proved to be too much in light of the changes she and her family are making in their lives. And I totally get that. But I still feel sad for the loss of her voice in the blogging world.
I read a beautifully written, thought-provoking post and feel two simultaneous reactions: 1) I am so thankful she wrote that, and 2) I am a terrible writer. I don't help people like she does. Why am I even bothering?
Guess which voice is the loudest?
I read of another person who is fasting from blogging for Lent. Good, I think. Good for her. Another writes of getting back to the simpler things in life-- of a life spent reading by firelight and pursuing creative things apart from technology. And again I say, Good for her.
I have a friend who noticed she was becoming too obsessed with her stats on her blog. In recognizing this, she put controls on herself by telling her husband to create a new password to her stats that she didn't know. Now he can check it and keep track of her growth, but she has no idea. She is reveling not in the numbers of hits, but in the impact she is making on lives. She hangs onto comments that say, "You made a difference in my life." Not on numbers. I admire her for that. How she caught herself going down the wrong path and stopped herself short.
Another person filled me in on how you can go to different sites and plug your name in and they will rank where you fall amidst all the other blogs. And all I can think of while she is telling me all this is: why? What purpose does knowing where I stack up serve? And yet later I have to literally fight off the urge to go sign up for these services. Because deep down, I want to sign up and find out that I AM NUMBER ONE. (I wouldn't be, mind you, but that is what I long to hear. Don't we all?) And then I think: Will your life be any better if you do find that out? Will that really bring you true happiness-- true joy? The answer, of course, is no. Duh!
Please understand, I am not knocking those of you who do these types of ranking things-- not at all. I just know my own limits. In theory.
Which leaves me wondering where I fit in all of this and if there are changes I need to be making along these lines. I ask myself:
Where are my priorities? Am I living them in real life or just pretending to on the blog?
Am I doing this for the right reason? (Hey, that would make a great title for a book! Ü)
Is my focus in the right place?
Am I trying to make you think things about me that I wish were true instead of what is actually true?
Do I balance being positive and encouraging with being real and ugly and extremely faulty? And in that balance do I depress you more than uplift you-- or vice versa? (Take this post, for instance...)
Most of all, why am I doing this? Why am I blogging? Is it for marketing purposes or to build relationships? Is it to have the best numbers or create the best connections?
If I discover that all I care about is getting more and more and more of you to come and visit, would I be courageous enough to just stop? Or would I shake it off and keep posting and keep checking stats? Am I listening to those gut checks in my life-- to that voice I mentioned earlier-- that One that counts?
I think that sometimes the stupid stuff-- the human insecurities-- can overtake what we do, and why. I began my blog with a handful of readers that grew over time. Back in the day, 30 hits a day was awesome. It was all I could hope for. (And it is. As one article I read stated, it is like having a classroom of people who come every day and listen to you. And that is worth something.) And then my blog grew. And grew again. And then I noticed a curious thing about me. I am never satisfied with the growth. Never do I sit back and say to myself, "There. This is exactly what I wanted." And yet, the reality is, my numbers have already surpassed what I could have dreamed of when I began.
And so, I issue this post as a challenge to not only myself, but to all of us. Yes, blogging is fun. It is community. It is a hobby. Even a passion for some of us. But to regularly process why and how and what we are doing is also necessary. To let God speak to our hearts about this whole thing and where it fits in who He has called us to be. To not get swept up in it and lose our perspective. To make this about sharing life and not competing for popularity. I don't know. Maybe it's just me who struggles with this. But somehow, I doubt it.
In the end, I think of the times I struggled with isolation and feeling alone and overwhelmed with a new baby-- and then I read a few blogs and somehow felt reconnected and renewed in the process. I think of the ladies who blog about homeschooling and family and living the calling of being a great wife and mom. And how every single time I spend some virtual time with them I come away inspired to live the calling more passionately than before. I think of the stories I have shared in, the requests I have prayed for, the scriptures I have found anew, the sage words of experience that have been a balm to my soul at times when I needed it most. And I know that blogging is not bad or wrong. It is, as I shared with another friend, a 21st century time at the well or quilting bee. In a very busy, disconnected society, we can all connect with each other, support each other, seek advice or encouragement, pray for each other.
And who among us doesn't need that?