DO YOU RELY ON OTHERS TO MAKE YOU HAPPY?

AS a blogger, it’s hard not to think that you suck sometimes.

That your work has little meaning. Or to put it bluntly… that it’s total and utter crap.

I feel this way every couple of weeks at least.  It’s a regular occurrence in my world. An old, familiar enemy.

And then, if your own self doubt and creative paralysis is not enough, well then there are always the ‘numbers’ to make you wobble. AKA your stats. Your social media figures. Your monthly visitors. Etc, etc, etc.

Every single day, I am asked to share my ‘numbers’ with others.

Numbers. Numbers. Bloody numbers.

All I want to do is sit and write and be creative and yet, sadly it is the numbers that often count more than the words. Go figure.

The clients and PRs that I work with, have to ask for them. It’s their job and I don’t hold it against them. These kind of things are essential to them so they know what they’re dealing with and with whom.

I’ve no problem with this, at all. It’s the way of the blogging land.

But numbers, if you concentrate on them and if you care about them too much, can take you to a dark place if you’re not careful. As can blogging awards and nominations. As can even how much money you make and earn.

If you need big numbers, nominations and prizes to feel good about yourself. If you need them to be happy. If you need them for some kind of validation, then well you are screwed.

Especially in the world that we live in now.

I’m sure most of us have felt that surge in good feeling, when we’ve popped a little snapshot on social media and received a positive response from others. It feels great doesn’t it?

But what about all the other times when you’ve shared something and it hasn’t been received so favourably? What then?

Did it bother you? Were you disappointed? Or could you not give two hoots?

I’ve always thought when it comes to praise and validation from others, that I had a pretty healthy grasp on things.

Particularly when it came to my work. That I didn’t need others to tell me I’d done alright, in order for me to believe it.

When I started out as a trainee journalist, I was blessed with a tough but fair boss who didn’t believe in the concept of ‘gushing praise’ or any other real praise for that matter.

It was a standing joke in our office.

The only way I’d know if I’d written a cracker of a story, was if he’d say something along the lines of: ” Yep, it’s alright that.” These kind of phrases were dished out rarely but boy when they were…well they mattered.

And when I started off as a freelancer over six years ago, I soon realised that any kind of praise or validation would really have to come from myself. Bar a happy client at the end of a project, no one else was going to say to me; “you’ve done great today, Kate!”

There was no boss to tell me my work was fantastic, no colleague to say something lovely or confidence boosting. Just little ol’ me.

So I thought I had this self esteem thang, nailed.

But, I was wrong.

Because last year I found myself feeling devastated, my confidence a little broken.

I’d been shortlisted for a pretty big blogging award and was beyond thrilled at first. Until I didn’t make the final cut. Until I didn’t see my name in a list of other bloggers who had made it to the finals.

I wrote about it, not long after.

Because it took me to a really vulnerable place and it crushed me for a while. It triggered something in me. Old memories perhaps, unpleasant stuff, a nasty little inner voice.

And it really hurt.

Not so much the disappointment, but the realisation that I was depending on external validation to feel good about myself. That even in my mid thirties, I still needed other people to tell me that my work was OK.

That I craved knowing how people felt about me and my blog.

When you focus only on numbers, they’re never enough, are they? And it’s the same with external validation.

You cannot get enough of it. You’re always craving more, always looking for your next ‘they love me’ fix.

But over the past year or so, I can say to you all, quite proudly, that I’ve changed. And that validation from others isn’t something I am still hungry for.

I dunno. Perhaps I’ve grown up but…

I don’t post anywhere near as many selfies as I once did and now find myself unintentionally cringing at people who post selfies to their accounts all of the time (even though I know I used to do exactly the same thing.)

I didn’t put myself up for the blogging awards this season or ask anyone to vote for me in them. And whilst I know I’m now very unlikely to make any shortlist because of that, I feel so much happier knowing that the few people who did nominate me, did it because they wanted to, not because I asked.

I no longer look at my blogging numbers with a critical eye and whilst I will always care about how many people read, like or share my words, I feel more grateful about my own success than I have in years.

And I am really doing my best – although it’s really bloody hard at times! – to not care so much about what other people may think of me.

All in all, I guess you could say that I’m trying to find my own sense of contentment and peace with who I am, what I do and what I create.

I still struggle at times.

I’m still keen to improve my social media following. I’m still determined for my blog to reach as many people as possible.

But I’m coming from a much healthier place. And a happier one too.

We all need to know we’re loved. We all want our talents to be recognised. We all crave to know that we matter.

But it’s important to remember, that this is a song we need to sing to ourselves first.

And if no one joins in the chorus?

Well that’s just fine.

Because our songs can and will, still be sung.


 

 

Lips

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Discussions on
“DO YOU RELY ON OTHERS TO MAKE YOU HAPPY?”
  • I’ve always thrived off praise. Even when I was at school, I’d actually look forward to parents evening and my mum coming home to tell me all the great things my teachers would say about me. Because ultimately I was a people pleaser.

    At work, I also like praise. It’s what drives me to do a good job. And I’m even more driven when I feel criticised as I want to show that I’m actually very capable, thank you very much.

    So while I’d like to think I can decouple my own views with those of others, I know I’ll always struggle with it. But I’ve accepted that it’s what makes me deliver my best. And that’s what counts the most.

  • Great post. I completely understand. I’m in a very similar place myself. Sometimes my inner critic takes over, and if that happens it means I’m never happy with anything I write. I worry far too much about what people think, which has, in the past, stopped me writing anything at all. Thankfully, like you, I’ve learned to be positive and content with my life and work. Thanks for sharing!

  • Such a well written piece on something many of us face daily. I’ve recently shut down my Facebook account. I didn’t like the way it got under my skin. The way I desperately wanted ‘likes’ on photos. I always noticed all the people who hasn’t liked something & virtually ignored all the ones who had. Mentally ticking off who had or hadn’t pressed ‘like’ was driving me mad. I don’t want to search for validation on there. I feel so much better without Facebook. I can’t kick social media habit completely, but like you, I want to find the confidence to not need approval from others quite as much as I used to…

  • I love numbers as that’s my background and I use them to understand my focus, and to show I’m improving. However, I think life’s too short once you’re an adult to worry too much about what other’s think. Once you’re in a comfortable place, and know your worth and are confident you know what you’re doing I think be proud of that, and keep doing the blogging for you. I guess I set up my blog for me before I knew about awards, stats, blogging communities or how many blogs were out there. Yes it’s nice to be recognised and have compliments, but I know I’m proud of what I write and of my blog, therefore that’s all that matters.

    As you say, I think it does come down to being in the right place to think that, and not care what others think, and those moments can come and go.

  • I am just completing a Brene Brown online course – Daring Greatly – which covers a lot about vulnerability and how we react when we feel vulnerable. I thought I was getting there and then your post landed in my inbox and I nodded away in recognition all the way through it.

    It also made me think about Gretchen Ruben’s better than before where she talks about our habits and what makes us perform – I am an external obliger, so will do something if I have promised others but don’t hold myself accountable for my own promises.

    I am definitely still a work in progress so it is actually really reassuring to know that I am not alone – great post, as always x

  • I think the thing to remember with blogging is to blog for yourself – if you ever don’t do that or lose that then it’s probably time to stop! I question myself all the time but three years on I’m still blogging, even if it is all a load of c**p!! #SundayStars

  • I love this post.
    I used to blog because I wanted to, write what I wanted, when I wanted and not care a bit if no one acknowledged it.
    It’s changed though, and I honestly do care about numbers now.
    Which totally sucks.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing :)
    Sarah xx
    whimsicalmumblings.blogspot.co.uk

  • It is so difficult isn’t it when, as you say, most of our blogging life seems to a degree centred around numbers. I think we all have worth outside these numbers, we just have to believe it xx

  • Its really tricky isn’t it as we are surrounded by other bloggers who are seemingly interested in numbers and rankings. I haven’t put myself forward for anything as of yet as I don’t feel my blog is anyway up to the standard of those who are up for awards however I do check my tots rank and klout score. As long as you don’t beat yourself up about it each month, its fine :) Great post!

    #sundaysstars

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