Friday, 12 January 2018

Is Blogging Making Me Unhappy?

I remember so clearly the moment I began this blog of mine.

It was 2013, I was sitting on my bed at my mums house with a pink laptop on my knee, trying to get comfortable with my 6 month baby bump getting in the way.

I was bouncing blog name ideas off Jon ... Beauty & The Bump perhaps, to reflect my interest in make up?! "No"...Jon said..."That name won't be any good once the baby is born".

"Yeah but I probably won't even keep the blogging up once the baby is here..." I replied.

And yet here we are....that baby is turning 5 years old in a few months time. And this blog is still part of my life.

Infact its more than just a part of my life.

It's become my career...the thing I earn my living from. It's become my business. And it's also become the focus of a LOT of my attention.

And I do mean a LOT of it.

I doubt that there's a day that goes by where I don't think about something related to my blog.

Infact if I'm being totally honest with myself, I doubt there's an hour goes by without me thinking about content I could write....thinking of blog related tasks I haven't done that day....thinking of tweets I could share, Instagram posts to do, emails to reply to...etc etc etc.

Even when I'm asleep, I'm thinking about blog posts.

I have always had a slightly addictive personality when it comes to hobbies. I've always been an "all in" kind of girl. For example, before I was a hobby was penpalling. But I couldn't just have one or two penpals like most people would, oh no...I had 83.

83 penpals from around the world.
The letters came in by the dozens every day, I always had a stack to reply to and I always felt a bit stressed out if I didn't get through a certain amount of replies each day.

For me, hobbies have always been less about a way to relax and unwind...and more something else to get my OCD on about. Something else to organise and plan for, something else to make "To Do" lists about.

Something else to worry myself about, if I'm honest.

Something else to tell myself I'm failing at, something else to berate myself about.

I'm probably doing hobbies all wrong, now that I think about it.

Last year, I earned the most amount of money in a year that I have ever earned before. Infact I earned more than DOUBLE the amount I've earned in a year before in my previous office based minimum wage roles.

And it's easy to tell yourself that's an amazing achievement. In many ways I guess it is.

But successful businesses and self employment usually come at a price...and for me, I wonder...has the price been my happiness?

In all honesty, I think it has in so many ways.

Never before have I cared so much about the opinions of other people as I do when I put my life online to be watched or read about as entertainment by strangers and, inevitably, judged in some way.

Never before have I compared myself so unfavourably to my peers and hated myself for my lack of ability to do things as well as they can - I can mentally beat myself up over the fact that I can't take photos that are as crisp as other peoples.

Never before have I judged the success of my life on the number of people who decide to unfollow me on a social media platform on any given day, or by the number of people who decide to press "like" on a photo I share.

Never before have I bought outfits or things for our home that I don't even really like, purely because they'll "look good for Instagram photos" and make me look as though my taste is the same as everyone elses.

And it eats into so much of your time and so much of your soul....I tell myself that I don't have time to paint my nails or read a book anymore because I'm always just so busy, but if I'm really honest with much of my time do I spend scrolling aimlessly through my phone?

Checking my blog comments, checking to see how my last Insta post is doing, checking to see who's watched my latest video, oh and lets just have a quick check back on those blog comments again...maybe there's been a new one in the last 30 seconds...and on and on and on it goes.

The social media approval seeking Merry-Go-Round that I can't seem to get off, even though I hate it.

And then there's the price tag on my head.

The knowledge that I'm only worth X amount to a brand when so-and-so is worth twice as much as me, because her followers are more engaged or her photography is better.

That's always a good one for knocking that self-esteem down a bit further.

Then there's all the mindless bullshit you find yourself being sucked into....

I spend too much time stressing out about creating a decent flatlay for Instagram....because that's what good bloggers do, and my flatlay skills are seriously lacking...because I don't really give a shit.

I spend too much time worrying about whether or not my blog images are bright enough or crisp enough or whether they create envy and admiration....because that's what good bloggers do...and they are rarely any of those things, coz my house is dark and messy and I don't really give enough of a shit to pretend otherwise.

I spend too much time stressing out over who how many thumbs downs my videos are getting and why they don't get as many views as other peoples....but in all honesty, my videos are a bit crap coz I don't really give enough of a shit to take the time to make them look better.

To sum it up....I spend too much time worrying about pointless, meaningless bullshit when in all honesty...I don't truly give a shit about most of it. I just feel like I SHOULD give a shit.

And then there's the way that blogging impacts on my family life...because it does.

Like when brands want to work with you because your children are the right ages to promote their product and you know that means persuading them to pose for photos with it when maybe they don't feel like it.

Or when the brand needs you to get a post live for them by a certain date even though it means you have to go out and take photos with the children in tow and you know it's going to lead to Shouty Snappy Mum making an unwanted appearance.

Never has the impact of my blogging life on my family been more clear to me than it was on New Years Day...when, thanks to a deadline of midway between Christmas and New Year given to me by a PR lady who, bless her, is probably in her early 20s and doesn't have a clue how stressful the Christmas holidays with little ones can actually be and how unrealistic it is to ask a mother of 3 to get work completed then - I found myself stressed out, needing photos urgently for a promotion I was late with, and with no option but to drag the boys out with me in the freezing cold across muddy fields to get the damn pictures.

It was miserable, it was difficult, the photos weren't coming out right which was making me stressed...the boys just wanted to play and I wasn't letting them which was making them stressed...and even though I tried to make it fun for them and give them some free play time in the park after, it still ended up with one of them slipping over in the mud and wanting to leave, the other two hysterically crying because they wanted to stay and everybody feeling really bloody pissed off.

And after we'd bundled the crying kids back into the car and started driving back home in terrible moods....I noticed that everywhere I looked were families, out together on New Years Day walks.  Dads carrying new bikes for the little ones, children zooming along on their brand new scooters, everybody chatting and laughing together. Not a camera in sight.

And as I watched them...I tried to remember when the last time we'd had a family day out like that was, where there were no cameras at all. No insta stories, no YouTube filming, no DSLR or even phone camera for snapping a sneaky photo "for the memories" which of course I'll end up sharing on Instagram anyway.

And I couldn't.

And I still can't.

And that's when it dawned on me....just how much of an impact my blogging has actually had on our family life, and my happiness over all.

How often I've put what I need to do "for the blog" ahead of what might be best for our family.

Even right now, as I'm writing this... I'm ignoring my hunger pangs because I haven't eaten all day, I'm ignoring the fact that I'm freezing cold and all I really want is a hot bath...I'm ignoring it all because I haven't got any blog content written and the OCD sufferer in me can't handle that.

Because it tells me that the blog must come first, the work must be done, the content must be written or...or...!

Or what?!

Do you know what, sod it...I'm getting in the bath!

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