my blog posts don't matter unless they get ten billion comments and people share them on twitter

by - 9/19/2017



Or something like that.

I would very much like to sit down and tell you to keep on writing! It doesn't matter what people think! Other people's opinions don't matter and your worth isn't based on those opinions anyway! It would be fantastic to tell you that. Past all the pointless sappy pump-up sayings, it would probably be true.

It just feels a little weird to say that when I don't believe it 90% of the time. SO LET'S TALK ABOUT A THING WE DON'T WANT TO ADMIT.

*moment to prepare*

I'm petty, and I hate it when other people are more successful than me, and it's irritating sometimes when people get more blog comments, and it feels like if I'm not getting praise and validation then what's the point?

I stared at the blog post box for a long time before I typed that. Not because it's particularly elegant (lol you wish) but because I don't like typing it! It's nasty. It's petty. It's illogical. It's a pretty crappy mindset that puts down the success of others for no reason and doesn't help you in the slightest. It's a mindset I have to work against most of the time, when I'm able or when I'm actually trying, and typing it out makes me more ashamed than ever, because I don't want it to be true. 

I don't want that to be me, and I don't want it to be such a struggle. But it is. Every writing snippet is a competition, a need for me to check and see if I'm a better writer!! Every blog post is a comparison between their comments and mine. How much twitter interaction do they get? How talented are they actually? And so on and so forth, a nasty whirlwind of pessimistic thoughts that tend to motivate me in exactly the wrong ways. Everything is a comparison and a competition, and when I entertain it it destroys my creativity. I go into a Deep Dark Spiral, snap out of it eventually, and by that time it's turned into a Captain Jack Sparrow situation where I'm berating myself while walking in circles. 
Image result for go away gif

(Pro-tip: do not be Captain Jack Sparrow.) 

You just have to ask yourself...where does this come from? As artists, as writers, shouldn't we of all people acknowledge how hard it is to be one? There's no reason why we shouldn't be the first ones to realize that there's plenty of room around the table for everyone, limitless ideas to dip into, a whole universe full of ideas and talent. It's not a competition. It's not a comparison. It's your own little journey, and all that. I don't think it's from a lack of understanding this. I don't think it's because we don't value and like our fellow creators. I think a good bit of it comes from that nasty dark little thing inside us: 

A need for validation.

Let's be real here for a second: social media is poison for artists/writers/creators/artsy kiddos of all types. It's a great thing, an amazing thing, actually, and it helps us in so many ways, but it's also just the kind of environment you don't need. You take a bunch of insecure people trying to figure out how to create things they don't hate and stick them into a world where they get to see everyone else, and the best things everyone else has to offer because that's what they're putting out, and you give them constant access to that information and that comparison. It's destroying. You could scroll through Twitter looking at other writers and their work for hours if you wanted, and let's be real here, a lot of that probably isn't going to result in you appreciating their lovely work. We like to compare ourselves to other people -- it's a human nature thing -- and we like to do it a lot. The last thing we ever needed was a place where that's within reach 24/7, where you can react to anything instantly and see other people reacting to things. 

Dangit, it just feels so good to get a nice comment on your writing. It feels amazing! Somebody on the other side of the world liked your thing. We spend our whole lives attached to the things we're creating and hoping that they'll resonate with someone else too. With the internet we can shove our writing out there and GET INSTANT VALIDATION AND PEOPLE WILL LIKE IT AND WE WILL BE GOOD AND WE WILL KNOW THAT WE'RE DOING GOOD except oh no, that person has a thousand followers and people compliment them all the time!! but how can they be better than me!! they're not!! it's not fair!! etc. etc. etc. forever into eternity. 

You don't need me to tell you comparison is bad. You don't need me to tell you you're not supposed to do it. You've heard it enough times. I've heard it enough times. What we really don't like is admitting that we have that problem in the first place, and sometimes it's downright nasty. So this is it, my confession: I have a really bad attitude about creative things. And I want you to validate me. 

When I write a blog post: I obsessively watch the comments and tally up the numbers in my head. 

When I post a snippet: I get irritated when only a handful of people tell me how amazing it is, and I expect those compliments. 

When other people have nice things said about them: I feel a flicker of irritation, even though I know it's irrational. 

The thing about this need for validation is that even when you get it, it's not going to be enough. Twenty people could tell you you're amazing and you would still find something to compare it to. It's a tricky lil creature that gobbles up all your confidence and replaces it with Words From The Internet instead, until you're leaning on a wobbly crutch of typed-out words that for some reason define your worth. If people like your writing online, you should keep writing! If people comment on your blog posts, you should keep blogging! (I'm not denying the very real sucky feeling that comes with no one seeing your stuff, or it feeling that way. I'm talking about the obsessive side of it that screws you over.) For a whole host of reasons, we wrap our worth and motivation to create up in what people think about it and whether or not they think we should, and as someone who struggles with this every single day... it's stupid. 

You're not stupid. This is stupid. 

It's stupid that we decide that we should keep doing a thing based on how many comments people leave. 

It's stupid that our first thought is not whether or not we like what we're doing, but whether or not other people like it. 

It's stupid that we get frustrated when other people ~have more success than us~ instead of acknowledging that there's room to go around and creativity is this big fluid thing with so many variables and it's not a determination of good vs. bad, okay? 

It's stupid. And I hate hate hate that I do it. 

This is a letter to me more than to anyone else; a reminder, a note to self. I am not internet-me. I do not need to wait for people to validate the things I want to do. Feedback is all good and well, but that's a different stage and I know it, so I need to stop making that excuse. I need to sit down, stop waiting for people to approve me, and write the things I want to write. All the rest can come later. 

You all don't need to know what I'm doing at all times. You don't need to know all about the perfect creative life I'm obviously living. I have to be able to give myself room to breathe and to make messes. I have to have some things that are mine -- otherwise I'm killing things while they're too delicate to stand on their own. 

I want all of you to validate me on the internet and share my posts on Twitter. 

But I really, really shouldn't. 

- Aimee

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23 Comments

  1. Well bummer. I can't offer the valid validation that validates because I'm not on twitter :-(

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  2. Thank you! I needed this. I find this to be especially challenging with blogging. After all, my goal as a blogger is to create discussion, gain comments, and disseminate information. If I'm not doing those things--three weeks without a comment, page views going down, etc--I feel like a failure because I'm not meeting my goals. It would be fine if I stopped it at an intellectual stage (has the quality of my writing gone down, should I reconsider my target audience, etc.), but then I start allowing it to affect my self perception, which is not acceptable.

    Agh. Death trap for writers is right. But I still think I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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  3. So friggin true. I fall into this trap all the time. And when I catch myself doing it, I have to force myself to take a step back, remind myself that usually 1) they're more active on social media, etc, than I am, so therefore more interaction, and 2) it's stupid to compare yourself to other people in terms of likes, comments, etc. So I usually compliment them in my head and move on with my life. lol!
    Thanks for the post and the reminder that life is not about the internet. :P
    And since you asked, love following you on twitter. ;)

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    Replies
    1. We definitely don't step back and take a deep breath often enough -- when I'm not ~doing well~ my reaction is often to DIVE DEEPER INTO THE THING HOW DO I FIX IT but I think there's more value in knowing when to step back and realize that it's just the internet, yknow?

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  4. I could have written this post -- I have the same feelings, so you are not alone. You're totally right when you say that social media is a huge enemy of creativity. I find myself constantly comparing myself to others, even sometimes changing my own writing style so I get those valued comments. But it's so easy to get burnt out that way. So even though it's easier said than done, I will ignore the little voices that care what other people think. Our best writing is done when we write from our innermost parts. Thanks so much for the reminder!!

    Emily

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  5. I get this, definitely should write a note to myself. Social Media is butchering my creativity and self esteem, but it's also feeding it. It's a viscous cycle.

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  6. Ugh, can I just say that this is spot on and everyone needs to hear this? Cause it's true!! This is so freaking relatable and I needed to hear this today. Thanks again, Aimee, for writing what we all needed to hear. <3

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading and leaving yet another nice comment!

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    2. 😇 Of course! Readin your blog always makes me feel inspired and ready to do something good with my life. <3

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  7. Funny, I have been thinking about this a bit recently. I find I always envy those people who don't need social media, or truly don't care who or who isn't validating them. So recently, I've been making a point of not letting that be my indicator. It is very freeing, and I have way more fun.

    I still feel that obnoxious prick sometimes when something I said isn't liked or noticed, or when someone reads something of mine and doesn't immediately launch into how much they liked it, but I am finding it bothers me less.

    And ultimately, when our identity and fulfillment is found in Christ, and not even the closest things to us (like, have you ever thought exactly how tricky that can be for a writer sometimes??) we just aren't going to be shaken the same way.

    Thanks for the post, great food for thought, and I appreciate your honesty!

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    1. Amen -- it's so difficult to put our identity in Christ, especially when we drown ourselves in social media and everybody else's work most of the time. it's a great thing to keep in mind.

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  8. WHY IS THIS SO FREAKING HARD

    because it is. it so is, and i hate it so much but it's such a real feeling. why are the comments of strangers on the internet so validating?? why should that be a driving force?? IT SHOULDN'T. BUT IT IS. AGH.

    so thank you for this, because it's really thought provoking, and something that i really need to chill out about.

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    1. UGH I FEEL YOU MAN

      we could all stand to chill :P

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  9. Oh man, this is so true. I've encountered this a bit lately with posting some of my artwork. When I don't get much recognition it messes me up (even though it shouldn't and that's childish and blah blah blah). When I do, there's always a part of my mind screaming at me for being so happy about every comment/like/reaction/whatever. I hate admitting that a part of me relies so much on other people's opinions, and how easily it influences my views on my own work. It's easy to give in to the urge to adapt my style, words, subject matter, etc. into something I know/hope will get a positive response. I think it's something a lot of artists have to learn to fight or work around. Anyway, thank you for the wonderful honest post.

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    1. Thank you for reading! I think it's something we all feel most of the time but don't usually say out loud.

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  10. Man, comparison just eats away at us all! It's crazy because someone is probably comparing themselves to you! It's a never-ending cycle. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and what it stems from and how to get over it. Because it only zaps all your creative energy and makes you feel either prideful or insecure. Thank you for writing this post because it's so relatable! Just remember that nothing on social media is 100% the real story.

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    1. Yeah, it's the constant struggle to get away from the sucking void of social media, but we can certainly try.

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  11. Reading this was like breathing again. Thanks. :) Social media sucks sometimes.

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