One would think.
It’s pretty much par for the course in junior high and high school, but I don’t know if insecurity always exits so neatly.
I first noticed this recent insecurity flare-up when I started to go to the Zumba class in my community. Well, it’s not really my community – it’s one town over; my community is like the slightly less-smart, less-talented, less-attractive younger sibling. Nevertheless, that was where it started.
First of all, I felt a little uncomfortable because #1, I didn’t know anyone, and #2, I didn’t know Zumba. I got over my awkwardness of Zumba soon enough and learned the routines, but it was the ‘not-knowing-anyone’ that threw me off balance. It wasn’t so much that many of these ladies seemed to know each other; it was more that they just seemed so exclusive about it. In the 2 years I’ve been going there, I can count on one hand the number of conversations I’ve had, and on two hands, the numbers of smiles exchanged. Their big diamond rings, their designer work-out clothes, their plastic surgeries…I began to feel a little…well, insecure.
Now seriously, it is only an hour class, and for sure, it wasn’t going to crush me. Big deal. But I didn’t like how I was feeling.
However, my most recent bout of insecurity touched me a little more personally – with blogging.
I’ve been pretty content blogging here at WordPress.com: I love the community, I love the other bloggers I’ve met, I like the platform. I’m not a big-time blogger (nor am I trying to be), so WP.com met my needs just fine. My sister, who is more of a big-time blogger, kept saying to me, “Katie, you should self-host and use WordPress.org. You could write for money, you can amp up your blog design…I can help you with all of that.”
I wasn’t sure. My biggest hesitation was that once you go from WP.com to WP.org, you lose the ‘community’ here – the ability to search for blogs with the same tags, your WP Reader, this little small corner of the pond in the Blogosphere. (This is not meant to be insulting to anyone of us on WP.com. I know there are millions of bloggers here – and many I would consider big-time bloggers; all I’m saying is that, to its credit, WP.com feels homey and small and tight-knit).
It just feels like there is room for everyone here on WP.com and – out there on your own? It’s easy to get lost in a tsunami of blogs.
I told her I wasn’t ready to leave WP.com; I really liked what I had and wasn’t feeling like I wanted to go anywhere. However, she did turn me on to SITS again (which I had known from my earlier blogging days). SITS is a fantastic blog support group that is huge, and it’s where a lot of the more independent, big-time bloggers hang out (and small-time, too. It’s for anyone). While WP.com provides the community for all those who blog here, SITS provides that for many bloggers who are self-hosted.
Well, in January, a new SITS Facebook group started, which I immediately joined. And that was where I started short-circuiting. All of the sudden, I was bombarded with tips and etiquette and rules like: using Google+ instead of Facebook, having ‘pinnable’ pictures in your posts, sharing 10 items on G+ for every personal post you share, asking questions on Facebook to get discussions going, putting your blog link in the ‘comment’ section instead of the ‘status’ section, following X number of people every day, growing your Google circles, tweeting 3x a day, attending link-up parties, commenting and following back, knowing the best times to post on Facebook, G+, Twitter, Pinterest…
Whaaaaat??? Where am I???
While this is sage advice from the experts (I mean that seriously, not sarcastically), I was feeling overwhelmed. Completely. What happened to just writing??? Instead of being a content guppy in my pond, I felt like I was thrown into the ocean and was drowning.
Now, I wasn’t trying to be these bloggers overnight – or even at all – but I couldn’t help feeling very small. In some discussions, of course, numbers came up, and a blogger mentioned how she got 15,000 views in a month. Ummmm….I’ve been blogging seven months and I still haven’t hit that number in total.
So, as best as I could, I took their advice (as every good, type-A girl does): I cleaned up my Google + profile, I made a Twitter account, I started following and tweeting and pinning and linking up….
And that was when I started to feel insecure. I felt like my tweets and posts and pins and links were being buried under a mountain of all the other posts and pins and links out there. I joined in on some link-up parties, and I felt like the ugly, nerdy girl who was trying to weasel her way in with the popular cheerleaders. Now, I know this is all in my head – and I hardly think anyone is judging me or giving me a second thought, good or bad.
But maybe that was the point – not a second thought.
Up until now, I guess I felt like the people who were reading and following my blog were doing so because they actually liked it. Not because it was a gratuitous follow or an obligatory read because I ‘linked up’ or I had ‘followed’ them.
While joining with some of these groups, parties and link-ups have increased my numbers (largely due to social media follows, not necessarily readers), and while that does have a benefit as far as more exposure, more opportunities to network, etc. – instead of encouraging me, I felt more insecure. Was any of this interest in my blog legit or just something everyone does to grow their numbers? Was anybody even reading it?
Now, I realize that this insecurity is my own issue. There is nothing wrong with these bloggers, groups, forums, strategies, tips, etc. Everyone has been kind, helpful and supportive. But in groups so big, I guess what I miss is the connection. And it is hard to connect when there are so many out there. And your blog is just one of thousands. Or, more likely, millions.
And when you think about it….isn’t the root of most insecurities a lack of connection? A lack of feeling significant or important or noticed? Of feeling ‘not enough’ compared to those around you?
So, where does this leave me? What do I do with this junior-high-ish bout of insecurity?
Well, I’m not quitting Zumba, and I’m not quitting blogging. I will still tweet and join parties and link-up and pin and follow and grow my circles. But first, I can’t be obsessed about it. My blog is my blog, and it will do what it’s gonna do. And I want to enjoy what I have and the connections that I have. I don’t want to feel like I’m being dragged into the blogging equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme and leave behind what I love about blogging in the first place – the writing and the connections. Numbers are fine, but if they don’t represent real people who I’m connected with or who have connected with me in some way…well…then, all this work for numbers and exposure really is overrated.
Second, all the activity, tips, suggestions, etc. – I’ll just see it for what it is: opening more doors for possible connections. And there is something in me that craves real connection, even in the Blogosphere – not just inflated numbers. Otherwise, it feels kind of hollow.
So, I think the answer to this blogging insecurity(and Zumba insecurity and whatever) is the answer for all insecurity – being content and thankful for what you have.
And who you are.
[Photo Credit: Polyvore]