It’s 7:38 AM local time here in Valencia. It’s the first day of my holiday, and I’ve been awake for about an hour. As is prudent when one is lying awake in bed for no good reason, I picked up my phone and started to browse Twitter.
I follow a lot of people similar to me, mental health bloggers and advocates. As I scrolled through my feed, I started to focus on the likes. The retweets. The comments. I don’t get a lot of that on Twitter, which is fine as I don’t put an awful lot of anything valuable out.
This made me start to think about my blog, and the interest I get. Since I started at the end of March my views and visitors have increased in huge volumes. Not to huge volumes, but the increase was satisfying. Over the last couple of days my views have really dropped off, which I’m sure happens from time to time. Or more likely, according to my brain, it means no one gives a single shit about anything I have to say and I should shut up immediately.
I’ll freely admit that I spend far too much time looking at my stats and monitoring how my blog is doing. That’s the blogger’s curse. I don’t know what flipped the switch this morning, it must just have been seeing tweets and interactions from more popular bloggers. I started to compare myself to these people, and berate myself for not being at that standard.
I got upset, and wondered why I’m even doing this. It recalled me back to the therapist’s office, when he asked me if I ever do anything for fun, or just for the sake of it.
What started out with good intentions has become something else entirely. I started writing because I thought it would help me (it does) and because I thought it was important for other people to read as many different experiences as possible, mine included. I’ve been through the wringer, I’ve got some shit to say.
Along the way, and very quickly I might add, I have become sucked into the idea of blogging ‘success’. It doesn’t help that I get a fair bit (relatively speaking) of traffic from and spend a bit of time on Pinterest, where all I see are posts titled ‘HOW I MADE $90,000 IN MY FIRST TEN MINUTES BLOGGING’ and the like. When I look around and see success everywhere, I start to wonder what I’m doing wrong.
I can write quite well, I’m making useful or interesting posts. Despite my ability to string a sentence together, when looking for part time work I’ve been turned down from numerous shitty content mill sites for work, which in turn makes me question whether or not I actually can write.
This blog should be a hobby, something that I enjoy, something for me. Other people reading it is great, and it means I’ve connected with some brilliant individuals who are sharing their stories just like me. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that, but in my head, if it isn’t then I have failed. I am measuring my success against unrealistic expectations, and beating myself savagely when I don’t meet them.
I’ve turned something that should be positive into another means to measure my self worth – and deliberately set myself standards so high I can never meet them. This gives me the fuel to continue being down on myself, which I suppose gives me more to write about, but isn’t helping my mental state at all.
I’m on holiday, and I haven’t switched off. I am always on, always thinking about this fucking blog. Writing a good post can take a couple of hours or half a day. Then I make a Pinterest and an Instagram graphic and get those posted, and so some half hearted Twitter engagement. It’s valuable time spent, but it can’t be my only focus. Much as it’s a pain, I’ve got rent to pay and this baby isn’t making me any money any time soon. I don’t even know if I want it to – can I really sustain a healthy mind and income if I make my money talking about my shitty brain all the time?
I have to work. I have two jobs I can do from home and I need to focus on those. I also need to prioritise myself and my health, and stop comparing myself to everyone else.
Last night, my first night away, I was thinking about what, if any, posts I could write whilst I was here. This one is a necessary one, a blurting of my incomprehensibly daft mind. Anything else can, quite frankly, fuck off. I can write about it later.
I honestly thought about just quitting, but why? I’ve still got some things to say, and I have to remember that these things help me just as much as anyone else.
Since this morning, some lovely people have said very wise and sensible things to me on Twitter in answer to my miserable, self-doubting nonsense. They remind me why we do what we do. Even if three people read my blog one day, or one week, maybe they’ll learn something. Maybe they’ll identify with something and realise it isn’t just them. Maybe they’ll think ‘wow, this girl’s off her head’ and it’ll give them a chuckle.
It seems like this little confidence in crisis came at exactly the right time, because now I can fuck off and enjoy my holiday instead of sitting at my laptop furiously blogging, tweeting, pinning and Instagram-ing.
I’ve a post scheduled for today (as well as this one) but after that it’s radio silence. I’m out. I can relax, refocus and no doubt have some embarrassing holiday stories to relay when I get back.
Thanks, brain, for reminding me that I actually need to take a holiday.