Blogging and self-esteem needn’t be a fairy tale…
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved books, reading, creativity. She loved to write, but would never ever dream of sharing it with anyone.
She was very quiet and shy, and her teachers worried about her being in the big bad world because she was reluctant to put her hand up in class, and didn’t seem to believe in herself or her abilities.
One day, her A-Level English Literature class began to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The girl was entranced: she had never read anything like it before. So began a appreciation and admiration of that author’s work that has endured for more than two decades.
During those intervening years, the girl grew into a woman and a mother. Slowly but surely she gained a greater belief in herself, because of an in spite of life events. Her self-esteem flourished (some of it from a ‘fuck it’ sensibility as a result of those life events).
She felt intoxicated by possibility, and that flourishing self-esteem led to the woman chairing a self-esteem round-table at a national blogging conference.
That meant her name was on the same speakers’ list, the same programme as Margaret Atwood (as well as some other very esteemed names). It was a special moment, and showed what can be achieved with self-belief, and a lot of hard work.
The woman didn’t live happily ever after – those life events have shown her that is not possible – but she understands that life is hers for the taking.
To follow her own path, be true to herself, to believe in herself.
Sorry, I fast-forwarded through the bit you, dear reader, probably want to know about most.
The event was Mumsnet’s Blogfest held last Saturday November 21 in London.
What happened at the blogging and self-esteem round table?
The lovely bloggers who attended gave varied responses to the question about what motivates them to blog:
“I have to!”
“It gives me time and space.”
“It gives me something for me.”
“It’s a flexible use of my spare time.”
“It gives me a sense of purpose, it makes me happier.”
Self-esteem is about how you value yourself, and the attitude you have towards yourself. While there are as many different motivations as there are stars in the sky, we share a common goal to have something for ourselves.
During our discussion, we talked about things like:
Define your own success by your own measurement. No one has it all sorted!
Validation – #NoLikesNeeded
Blogging (and social media) is sometimes used as a measure of validation and self-worth. Sometimes blogging and social media can show a curated view of life, and give the misleading impression that life is always perfect. This can make us feel a bit rubbish, especially if we’re a bit low.
We talked about how we can feel low and rubbish if our posts don’t get likes or comments. It’s not surprising that would have such an impact on our self-esteem because we put so much of ourselves in to our blogging work it can be difficult to not take that as a personal slight.
We chatted about the pressures young people have, especially with so much of their validation and self-worth seemingly measured by the engagement they receive on a selfie that took an average of 12 minutes (!!) to perfect.
Negative Comments and Trolling
As mentioned above, we bloggers – whatever we write about – put a lot of ourselves in to our work.
If not having any reaction or response stings, how does it feel when the response is mean, nasty, unkind?
Those who had received negative comments say it is horrid, and it hurts – of course it does. We wondered why people go to such an effort to be mean. A couple of bloggers said trolls really upset them at first, but now they just make them laugh because they are so ridiculous.
The thread that tied the discussion together was mutual support. The group was lovely, and gelled really well together with respectful, kind dialogue.
Let’s have more of this across the community!
Sometimes the things we write about are very personal. We might feel sick when we press ‘publish’. But that post might raise awareness of a vital issue – it is a powerful thing to do. It might help someone else, it might help them feel less alone. That person might get in touch with you to say how much it helped them, and that is such a wonderful feeling!
Sometimes our friend might be the at the receiving end of negative comments. We can reach out to them, let them know they are valued and that the trolls are worthless. We can drown out the hate with love.
We can take a moment to make a comment on each others’ work to show them that their efforts are valued.
We can share each others’ work on social media, give each other a boost.
Thank you everyone who attended – you’re all lovely!
So, what can you do to give your self-esteem a boost?
These are a few tips gained from the session, and from life in general (yep, learnt the hard way….)
- Value yourself! You are the only you. You are special, you have a unique contribution to make to the world.
- Value what you do: if you want to write, find time, make time. Make compromises, sacrifices….
- Believe in yourself! We are all doing the best we can.
- Do what you want for you. Return to why you blog. Remember what you want to get out of it, and the time you realistically have to do it.
- Cut loose those who drain us with negative energy.
- Celebrate yourself! Blowing our own trumpet may be frowned upon but there is a difference between celebrating our achievements, being proud of ourselves, respecting ourselves, and having a big head – and we need to learn what that difference is. Build your self-esteem, believe your own hype!
- Don’t compare (too much) – it can give us inspiration, something to aspire to. But don’t let it take over, distract from being you. Just because some bloggers have higher stats than you, are in the finals for awards and you’re not, or get opportunities you’d love to have – it does not immediately follow that you are rubbish. Remember that for some things there are only so many places; that sometimes it’s just luck (or favouritism or nepotism) – and that some work every hour God sends, and get themselves out there. There will be opportunities for you right around the corner, especially if you believe in yourself. If you allow the thought that others are better than you to fester it will affect your self-esteem, and how many opportunities are likely to come knocking then?
- Don’t worry too much about having a ‘niche’. Or if you do have an identified niche, remember it’s not set in stone. I have previously pondered on whether I am a ‘mummy blogger’ because Hugo died means I have no living child to write about, and it limited the mummy blogging things I could get involved with. It damaged my confidence as a person. Then I decided to not label myself and write about what I wanted to write about when I wanted to write it. I sometimes see bloggers saying they’d love to write about a, b, and c, but they feel they can’t because they’re an x,y, or z niche blogger. So what? If it’s meaningful to you, write about it. Who knows where it might lead? Believe in yourself and go for it.
Is there anything you would add?
I may not have what I want, but I am fortunate to have wonderful friends to spend time with, who respect my work and support what I do. And I try to stay true to myself, respect myself.
It is not easy, but we can all be intoxicated by our own possibilities if we peel the layers off berating ourselves for what we are not, and instead focus on doing whatever is in our power to get ourselves to where we want to be, who we want to be, surrounding ourselves with people who make us feel good too.
And if that quiet girl whose tutors worried about can get on the agenda for a huge national conference, imagine what you can do, too?