Friend Friday: Goals, Imperfection, and Finding Your Voice
At the beginning of a new year, it is natural for us to take stock, measure our hits and misses, and set new goals—at least for me, it is. I like the idea of getting a fresh start, of aiming higher than I did last year. I’m just the kind of person who is always looking to improve, in all areas of my life.
Of course, now that I’m a blogaholic, the need to one-up myself in the blogosphere is a given. And that’s this week’s Friend Friday* topic—blog resolutions and the propensity we all have to think perfection is not only desirable, but attainable. Let’s just settle this right now: it ain’t. Not in the blogosphere, or anywhere else.
Have you ever looked at someone’s blog and thought yours will never measure up?
Uh, yeah! My blog is so lame compared to some I’ve seen when it comes to design, monetization, photography, videography. But I never really worry about it too much; I never think that I’ll “never measure up.” Rather, I’m inspired by prolific, smart, creative bloggers—I know that eventually, I will be able to transform my blog into what I really want it to be. That’s the beauty of blogging…there isn’t a single standard. There is room for diversity in design, approach, and personality.
In the last year, specifically, I’ve really begun to enjoy where blogging is taking me on and individual and professsional level. I’m learning new things all the time, and that is partly why I’ve stuck with blogging for so long—it’s not just about money and the end result. For me, blogging is about taming the technolgical beast, self-realization, and the joy of discovery—not the pursuit of a perfectly curated blog and life. Perfection is a farce. Well, except in the case of designer Tom Ford. Talk about curation. But I digress.
Do you feel pressure to meet some undefined standard for fashion bloggers?
I don’t feel pressure to meet any standard other than my own. That said, I feel like I’m just starting to “get” blogging, so I’m excited to push the boundaries and see where I can go with it.
Just yesterday I read an excellent post on this topic by Already Pretty blogger Sally McGraw. In Some Thoughts on Style Blogging and Apparent Perfection (which I discovered via a Dramatis Personae Links to Love post), McGraw discusses blogger envy and she makes several important points:
Back in April, a Jezebel contributor coined the term Marthettes to describe crafty, stylish bloggers who post a seemingly endless stream of perfectly composed photos of themselves, their lives, their food, and their craft projects. She went on to say that these bloggers filled her with feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy.
…But here’s the thing: No blogger reveals her whole self to her readership. Not even me. Not even Dooce or The Blogess. Reading someone’s blog gives you access to a tiny sliver of her life, the sliver she has chosen to share. And filtering out the bad stuff is her prerogative, as is focusing on triumphs, prized skills, amazing photos, best outfits, and cool new purchases. Style bloggers who absolutely never post an outtake photo, or fess up to wearing knockoff shoes, or talk about feeling ugly or lonely or stupid have made a conscious choice to showcase the shiny and the pretty. It may seem disingenuous and it may irritate you, but it’s well within the spectrum of acceptable blogging behavior. And just as it’s their choice to focus on the shiny-pretty, it’s your choice to read other blogs instead.
…There are millions upon millions of women who have more money than me, more opportunities than me, more socially-sanctioned beauty than me. And I could work myself up into a jealous froth about that if I wanted. But instead I try to remember that their situations in life have nothing to do with my own, and that any comparisons would be apples to oranges.
Besides, those other women may appear to have “more,” but I can see only tiny, carefully-chosen slivers of their lives.
Carefully-chosen slivers…so very true. But there is something to be said for holding some things back in the blog world. I really am not interested in seeing snapshots of the mundane—bloggers in their sweats or barefoot in photos (exception: photos on the beach). I want to be entertained. I don’t really want to see the same things I see in everyday life.
I know this answer is long-winded, but I have to share a little story here, because it was this situation that finally taught me that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, and that we really only see what others want us to see.
Grass does appear to be greener on the other side—usually there’s a whole lot of manure fertilizing it.
I once had a friend who fell in love with and married a handsome and wealthy man. She seemed to have everything…a massive house, luxury vehicles, fancy vacations, designer goods, a husband who adored her, and a great job. As I struggled to lay the foundation of my own career and life in my late 20s and early 30s, I felt some envy with regard to this friend, although I never let on. I’m really not a jealous person. Let’s just say some people have all the luck kept reverberating in my mind.
As my friend became more deeply entrenched in her lifestyle and her children, and for other reasons, we grew apart. I’d see her here and there and she seemed to be flying high. Then one day I heard that she had separated and was planning to divorce her husband because she’d caught him with his hands in another woman’s cookie jar. But I had just seen her and she never let on! Huh? Obviously, she was humiliated. He’d been partaking of those cookies for more than a year behind her back. The house was put on the market, she discovered he’d amassed a joint credit debt that had many zeroes on the end, he took the cars, and she was forced to pick up the pieces and make herself a new and significantly less luxurious life. And then her ex-husband married his mistress. Since they have children together, that meant she would have to see both her ex and his mistress-turned-wife for at least 10 more years.
And I thought I had it bad. Yes, as Sally put it, apples and oranges. And I’m sure my friend didn’t like them apples.
Many established fashion bloggers are also extraordinary DIYers, bakers, and crafty people. Do you think you need to combine all of these things to be successful at blogging?
Hell no, people!
That’s a silly thought. You know why? Cause I really do none of the above. I’ve said this before: I’m a buyer, not a DIYer. Unless you count slicing frozen cookie dough onto a baking sheet and throwing it into the oven—because that is truly as close as I get to being Martha Stewart.
Blogging is not about being multi-talented. It’s about being YOU, and presenting whatever it is that’s your thing in a way that is appealing to others. For me, a successful blog is one in which I connect with the blogger’s personality and gain knowledge or enjoyment from visiting. How boring would our Style Nation be if all bloggers took the same approach? I like cookie recipes and all that, but honestly, if I wanted to read recipes and see meticulously styled food, I’d just hit foodnetwork.com.
The most successful blogs are the ones that have their own personal voice—how are you developing your voice or how did you find yours?
I don’t think I ever had to “find” my voice, and I’m sure that there are some people out there that wish I’d just lose it. I am who I am, and I make no apologies for it—I’ve always been outspoken.
Writing has been in my blood from childhood, but I do believe that over the years, writing for different genres/publications has helped cultivate my voice. As has reading. Writing for different audiences helped me learn what types of writing I don’t particularly enjoy, what I do enjoy, and which medium(s) I like the most. Every experience with writing/photography/videography/Web development that I have is a brush stroke on a canvas, a layer. Separately, these experiences are less significant. But cumulatively, they paint the proverbial picture.
I think the best way to find your voice is to be a sponge. Just soak it all up. And then one day you will just know…you’ll feel it. And you’ll squeeze all that knowledge, all those experiences back out in a symphony of realization and knowingness that you never realized you had. And you will marvel at how in retrospect, even your failures contributed to what seems like a perfectly-laid plan. We should revel in our imperfections. They make us who we are.
New bloggers, youngsters, trust me on this. Learn. Ask questions. Know that even the people who seem to know what they are doing are still learning something new all the time.
Toot your own horn… what’s one thing you do that is unique to you and your blog? What gives your blog an edge?
My badassness?! My spiked heels? Ha! I have no idea.
Maybe it’s because I approach fashion blogging from the perspective of a content developer/writer. That I’m as interested in what’s going on on the back-end of the blog as the front. I don’t know. Why don’t you all help me?
What do you think gives G&G an edge? Why do you keep coming back, lovelies?
*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.