LOVE, IGHO IS FIVE MONTHS OLD!!!
Time flies when you’re having fun?!🤷🏾 I thought I’d be writing this post in August, when I was six months in, but the past couple of weeks have been filled with so many highs and lows. It has been an emotional journey and I wanted to share what that has been like. I also wanted to share what I’m learning so far. So here are six lessons I’ve learned in my first five months blogging.
Six Lessons Learned From My First Five Months Blogging
1. Feel The Fear But Do It Anyway
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear”.– Prince Philippe Renaldi of Genovia (🎥: The Princess Diaries)
This quote is an all time favorite of mine from a movie we all love, and I personally know by heart. It’s a line from the letter that Princess Mia’s father wrote to her before he died. This quote wasn’t all he said though. He went on to say, “…the brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” True words!
Choosing to do this (blogging) has been the boldest step I’ve taken in years. I didn’t think of it as an exercise in faith when I started in February, but that is what it has been. I have had to lean on God and his knowing (and my not-knowing) every step of the way. It has been the difference between working with ease and working with anxiety; in that, when I work alone I’m jittery every step of the way, but when I let Him work with me (and through me), I exceed my own expectations.
First, I should say it wasn’t easy to start. My fear and anxiety exists in tiers – as in, on different levels. I mean, I once fainted during a chemistry lab presentation in 2011 because I was nervous and felt unprepared (S/O to Ruumoh and Juliet, friends that never let me forget how far we’ve come 😄🤦🏾♀️). The reason I’m saying this is that I know firsthand that fear can be crippling but it can be overcome, for sure.
Some of the things I considered are:
- Am I really just going to stand in the middle of the street, posing for pictures, with ALL these people staring?
- Who wants to read what I have to say? What do I have to say? It’s 2019, who wants to read AT ALL?
- They say to be successful, I need to have ONE THING that I’m good at, so what is MY THING?
- This is going to be a disaster.
So after talking myself out of it, and procrastinating a thousand times, I chose to be courageous. Basically, I said to myself – as written in my notebook – “I am willing to realize my true capacity, through fear, anxiety, discomfort, and taking responsible action”. Most of us are scared, but I refuse to look back 5 years from now and think, “my life could have been great, but I was afraid”. So, whatever it is, I hope you make a choice that reflects what you hope you’ll be, not what you’re afraid of.
Once you take that first step, everything else is figureoutable!
2. Work From Rest Not Rest From Work
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”– John 14:27
Rest is a “strategy” that is necessary for everyone, not only bloggers or content creators. If you’re living in this world, then you definitely need it, but most recently what I’ve had to deal with is blogger burnout. That is when I go days – weeks even – creating content, followed by long stretches of non-blogger activity. I just get so overwhelmed and as a newbie blogger I suspect I’m harder on myself than I need to be. Having to deal with scheduling work activities, keeping to said schedule, and being accountable to yourself can be a tough adjustment. If one thing lags, it feels like all the chips are going to crumble all at once.
Through all these, I’ve learned that a calm mind is almost always the first best weapon against your challenges. Easier said than done, I know, but sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax. Really! So, when I’m feeling burnt out, I give myself the “okay” to rest and not worry about the blog and anything else that is a bother at the time. Whatever it is and whatever your job or vocation is, your mental/physical health is worth a lot more!
P.S. In this post here, I share some self-care practices to help you relax.
3. It’s okay to not have all the answers.
“Some people say, How can you live without knowing? I do not know what they mean. I always live without knowing. That is easy. How you get to know is what I want to know.”– Richard Feynman
This one I started learning a couple of years back. Or better put, I started getting more comfortable admitting. I lectured a couple of college classes from Fall 2017 – Spring 2018, and I had to get really comfortable (and not scared) of just saying “you know, I have no idea. I’m going to have to get check and get back to you.” Those words are life-changing!!! It takes a load off when you begin to realize that most people have very little idea what they’re doing. Even the people who you think have their shit together, don’t have it ALL figured out and that’s okay.
Now, the thought of not knowing is kind of exciting to me. I figure, if I have no idea where my life is headed, then the possibilities are endless. Just imagine! God could literally work out anything amazing. If you think of it like that, it won’t seem so daunting.
4. Embrace community, not comparisons
“There are times when the only answers you can find are in the silence. So take a step back from the voices (You know who and what they are)”– Abiola Babarinde
Comparison distracts and suffocates. One sure way to impede your progress is to fall into comparison paralysis. This can happen when you fall into the trap of over-consuming other people’s content, sometimes in the process of figuring out yours. It’s the easiest way to lose your own voice. I am so guilty of this I won’t lie, and it’s especially hard when it’s people you admire. If you soldier on, you’ll eventually learn to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning yours. In the meantime, don’t have too many hands making your meal, it’ll either delay the food being prepared or it won’t taste the same in the end.
Seeking many opinions will only leave you more confused. You’ll have to quiet all the noise, find your inner compass and trust it. Which brings us back to Lesson #2 – Rest.
5. Self Will Often Leave you Grossly Unsatisfied
“…our suffering is associated with self pre-occupation. All loss and gain, pleasure and pain arise because we identify so closely with this vague feeling of selfness that we have. We are so emotionally involved with and attached to this “self” that we take it for granted.”– Francisco Varela
In a time where we’re subconsciously taught to “strive for the life we want”, “fuel our hustle”, and “build our empire”, it becomes very easy to get worn out continuously. That’s the cycle we often find ourselves in: plugged in, “hustling”, tired, relaxed, refreshed, reconnected…then we hustle again, and we’re right back where we started. I keep putting “hustle” in quotes because I’m not really sure I know what it entails, and I may be too “lazy” or “unmotivated” to be called a true “hustler”. I think that’s enough with the quotation marks.😄
What I’m trying to say is (I hope I word this correctly), focusing on yourself is important – vital, essential, major – but it can be detrimental when overdone. So, of course, put yourself first. After all, you can’t pour out of an empty cup. But when you focus too much on building yourself, if it’s not mediated by something else (something bigger than you), it’ll consume you. Self-occupation is painful! Before long, you’ll begin to feel the pressure to over perform. Then comes anxiety.
I find that in the midst of my own confusion, I often find solace in pouring and sowing into the lives of others. Or being strong enough to have others pour into you. While you’re growing, you won’t get very far without other people in the picture.
6. Enjoy The Work
“When you enjoy what you do, work becomes play.”– Martin Yan
I see the look on some people’s faces when I tell them that I recently started a blog, and most of them are just ignorant of the ins & outs of the business. I know there are bloggers who blog just as a hobby and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but for the rest of us we make a living off it (or at least we hope to 😉). I say this to say that, blogging IS A REAL JOB, don’t get it twisted. I’ve worked regular jobs – corporate, medical, and academia – and dare I say, it is more work than most fields. Mainly because you’re accountable to yourself, there is always SO MUCH to learn continuously, and it can be so complicated because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to success.
As you start blogging, you’ll find out what works for you. Why is it challenging? I’m so glad you asked! Like I said, there is no magic rule for success that fits every person; there is no one, single way to monetize; a lot of it can be a trial and error; there’s a lot of competition; and getting traffic can be a bitch.
However, I’m finding that this is also the main perk of the job. In the midst of figuring this out, you’ll FIND YOURSELF. Creating (in any form) brings you closer to your true self. But like going into any new field, you’ll first feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end, but soon enough you’ll start swimming. It’s all just a matter of time. So, although money is a good reason to start blogging, blogging just for the sake of the money is not worth it in my opinion. It’s also not very sustainable. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I do believe that you have to enjoy it to keep going at it. It is a test of your will and I’m grateful for it. Find what you ENJOY blogging about and take it from there, regardless of how weird or unpopular you think it is. I don’t think anyone else will love it until you do!
All pieces are old staples from my closet.
Honestly, the bulk of this post is a #notetoself. I’ll be coming back to this post regularly just to remind myself of why I’m on this journey.
Overall, I guess what I’m trying to say – the gist of all of this – is that we should learn to relax and trust the timing of our own lives. Nothing truly worth having happens overnight and it’s a lifelong process but eventually….totally out of your control, it’ll happen. Your life will begin to unfold slowly. You’ll wake up and you’ll be in a place of contentment. Everything may not BE right but it will feel right. Your heart and soul will be calmer and your vision will be clearer. You’ll be at peace with yourself, where you’ve been, what you’ve been through and where you’re going.
Do any of these resonate with you? Share your own lessons and struggles in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.