There is a fairly common assumption (misconception?) when it comes to bloggers with blogs that primarily focus on life's happy, shiny, pretty things, like fashion or design or food or decor or creative living. And that assumption is that their lives must be one or more of the following: beautiful, easy, abundant, extraordinary, exciting. Maybe even perfect. It's not just readers who don't blog or new bloggers who might assume this. Personally, even though blogging is part of my career and I'm well aware of the fact that blogs showcase tiny pieces of an overall picture, I sometimes find myself looking at other blogs and wishing I could be that awesome, that talented, that special. Many well-known bloggers with massive readership have admitted that they sometimes feel less-than-adequate when they subconsciously compare themselves to other bloggers. Unfortunately, as much as relaxing with a nice cup of tea and reading your favorite blogs can make you feel uplifted, there are times that the pretty, perfection-driven picture they paint can do just the opposite.
In all fairness, blogs are places where people come to feel inspired, to enjoy themselves, to be entertained. So it's only natural for we, as bloggers, to showcase this sparkly, positive side of life, and to produce content that makes our readers (and ourselves) feel happy. Everyone has problems, and when we read blogs (or watch movies, or go see music, or go out to dinner, or participate in our favorites hobbies), we're seeking enjoyment. We want to feel good. We want distractions from our everyday issues. Most people don't visit a blog because they want to be reminded of the less-than-pleasant parts of life. But still. Maybe all the edited photos and fancy graphics and creatively detailed DIY tutorials and gorgeously decorated living spaces and utterly on-trend outfits/hair styles/manicures are giving a false impression of reality.
When I asked for readers to send me questions a few weeks ago for the FAQ page I've been working on, I got lots of emails, some with questions, some with general comments. And I noticed several of them included things like "how do you find time to do it all," "how do you always stay so upbeat and happy," "how can you afford to travel so much," "it must be so fun to be a fashion designer," and even "your life is so interesting compared to mine." Honestly, this really threw me off. No one was rude or asked anything unfair in their emails, but I actually had trouble falling asleep that night because I couldn't stop thinking about it. I mean, I've only been blogging for a year and a half, and Bubby and Bean is certainly not one of those ultra-famous blogs with millions of readers. And when I'm working on blog posts, I'm usually balled up in a fetal-style position on my floor, wearing one of Robbie's tshirts with ripped leggings, sporting a very unmade-up face and unbrushed hair, consuming way too much caffeine. And I don't have much of a social life these days because I work so much. And I don't own my house and sometimes struggle to pay my bills. And sometimes I wake up grumpy and negative and sad, convinced that my life sucks and I'm a failure. (In the dark depths of the winter months, this may occur on more days than it doesn't.) So how could anyone think that way about me or my life? Am I putting on some sort of facade by keeping the majority of my personal life separate from the blog and choosing to focus mostly on the positive? Is the content I'm sharing sometimes leaving my readers with the idea that things around here are glamorous, or that I waltz through life with a big charmed smile on my face? Am I - are we, as bloggers - somehow being deceptive?
I did my best to stop obsessing and just go about my blog business as usual, until yesterday, when I saw an incredible post by EZ of Creature Comforts (inspired by this post, by Jess Constable), called "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You." It touched on all the things I mentioned above, and, as EZ described it, the "vast cavern between true reality and the presentation of 'reality' on blogs." Another line from her post especially struck me: "The more and more conversations I have with other bloggers and readers of blogs, the more sure I become of the fact that we are all just a little bit sick of all this perfection." EZ then went on to share many things about herself and her life that up until now, she'd been afraid to share on her blog. Things that she described as "less-than-pretty." And she linked to other blog posts, from other bloggers, who were doing the same.
I sent a tweet to EZ, telling her how much I loved her post, and how it inspired me to consider possibly sharing things I'd normally be afraid to share on my blog as well. She responded enthusiastically, and asked if she could link to my post on Creature Comforts when it was done. So I stopped working on my regularly scheduled blog post for the day, and started on this one instead. It wasn't easy to write, because like most people, I want to be viewed in a positive way. And whether or not it's cool to admit this, I care what you guys think of me, and I want you to read this blog, and these are not things that I ever would have considered sharing on Bubby and Bean before. And yes, I'm worried I might regret publishing it. I don't know the majority of my readers in "real life," and I don't often share personal things here. Especially this personal. But the concept of a community coming together in an authentic, unguarded, vulnerable way - with a purpose of breaking down the walls of false perfection and a goal of making the blogging world a better place for everyone - was just too awesome to ignore.
So here goes...
>> I still cry over how much I miss Bubby on a regular basis. I feel very blessed to have had him for almost 16 years, but there is an emptiness inside me without him here that I am constantly aware of. I don't care that he was "just a dog" - I've never missed anything so much.
>> I am SO grateful that I've been able to travel the world and can share bits and pieces of my adventures here, but my travels aren't funded by a big bank balance that resulted from career success (or any other kind). My husband works for a band, and sometimes when the band visits another country, the spouses get to accompany them. I still have to work hard to save up to pay for my airfare, food, etc. But I'd never be able to afford to travel to these places outside of his work.
>> Speaking of my husband's career, I am very proud of him for doing what he loves, being so good at it, and succeeding in working at his dream job. The organization he works for is awesome, and we get to do really cool things because of his job (like the traveling I mentioned above). But he is gone a lot. Almost half the year to be exact. I've touched on the struggles that come along with this on the blog from time to time. But it's harder than I let on. I was closely involved in the music industry through friends and styling jobs well before I ever met my husband, so I knew that it was challenging for significant others and families of those on the road. But I can honestly say that I had no idea just how challenging it actually was until I became one of those significant others. Spending holidays apart (or in the same place while he's working but only with a few minutes together here and there), going weeks at a time without seeing each others' faces (with very short and sporadic phone calls as our only means of communication), and not having my husband with me for important career or life events (as well as life tragedies) isn't easy. It's lonely, and there's just no replacement for your partner/best friend. It's also difficult to make plans for the future - big or small - when we don't know very far in advance when/if he'll be available. I have a profound respect for those who raise their children while their partners are on the road (and obviously for single moms/dads as well), and often wonder if I would be capable of handling being a mom with how much my husband is away. Being in my 30s and feeling the pull toward motherhood more than ever, this gives me great anxiety at times. (Disclaimer about this particular "thing I'm afraid to tell you": I am not complaining. Everyone makes sacrifices in their relationships. I'm just being honest in saying that my husband's career, as exciting and interesting as it can be, can also be a lot harder and a lot less fun than it appears on the outside).
>> My career of the last 12 years as a fashion designer has been a series of ups and downs, and sometimes I wonder what the hell I was thinking starting a clothing line. The ups have included a few periods of steady income, some really great press, getting to show at well-received fashion weeks and art museums, the opportunity to promote environmental consciousness through fashion, and seeing my designs worn by happy customers and carried in stores worldwide. The downs have included periods of unsteady income (that far outweigh the steady ones), debt and serious emotional stress as a result of the majority of the stores that carried my line going out of business and a pattern maker who skipped town with my samples/fabric/money, pressure to compete with chain stores who have their lines mass produced overseas for a fraction of the cost, and 80+ hour work weeks (when my focus was solely on the clothing line; it's not anymore). I am thankful for the successes I've had, and some of the happiest moments of my life have been a result of my clothing line. But I would be totally okay with closing the doors on it right now and never looking back. And that's something I've never said out loud, much less posted online for the world to read.
>> Whether via my laptop, phone or iPad, I am almost always online. I am constantly checking my email, Twitter, Google reader, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blah blah blah. This isn't a good thing, and I can't seem to break the habit. And it's pretty embarrassing to admit this (especially to myself), because I know first hand how much better I feel when I'm living life instead of glued to electronic devices.
>> I have Fibromyalgia. I'm lucky, because (for now) it's mild. But it still sucks.
>> As I said above, I don't own my house. It's a townhouse, and I rent it. As a blogger who posts about pretty spaces and the joys of home decor, I feel like being a home owner should be a goal that's high on my priority list. But it's not. It's just not that important to me, but again, for whatever reason, I feel like it should be. (Also, it's usually really messy.)
>> Over the past couple of years, I've watched little grey hairs slowly begin to invade their way into my head, right along the top of my part. There aren't very many (yet), but they're determined. P.S. I dye them.
>> I absolutely, unabashedly love blogging. No I'm serious. I love it more than my clothing line and my art line and the styling work I've done for bands and my event production gigs and my eco speaking gigs and my freelance graphic design jobs combined. I adore writing and curating and sharing tutorials and taking/editing photos and putting it all together in a way that (I hope) inspires others. At this point in my life (and I say that because it always changes; I have a degree in theatre if that tells you anything), my dream job would be to blog full time or to work for an online magazine (or start my own). For real.
>> On a similar note, I have what feels like 182 different jobs. Gotta pay the bills somehow.
>> I scrutinize and second guess my work - and often other choices I make as well - to a fault. This applies to everything from blog posts to graphic work to my clothing designs to what I choose to wear to a party to buying gifts for others to whatever drink I decide to order at Starbucks that day.
>> Once upon a time, I was married to someone else, named Jeff. We met when we were very young, and got married young, and it didn't work out. But we stayed best friends in the years following our split. I've spoken here once or twice about how Jeff passed away on June 13th, 2010. What I haven't mentioned is that he took his own life. It was obviously the most devastating thing I've ever been though. But I never judged his decision. He had always been sad inside, no matter how hard he tried not to be, and he fought way too many battles for one person to have to fight in such a short life. Although I wish everyday that he was still here, I know he finally found peace. And that is the 100% honest to goodness truth regarding how I feel about it.
>> I want to move far away from the city and have a big yard with a swing and a garden that doesn't have to be grown in containers and a nice chunk of space between where we live and any possible neighbors.
>> I worry a lot. Sometimes this provokes full-on anxiety. I am happy to say that I'm slowly getting better with this. Having a partner who is over-the-top chill helps. :)
>> I work too much, and that is my fault. Like the whole worrying thing, I've gotten better with this, by doing things like always taking one weekend day off and really trying to be done for the day (okay, night) at a semi-reasonable hour. There is still room for improvement, and I admit this.
>> I would estimate that a good 2/3 of the projects I start never get finished.
I'll stop there. If you made it this far, you rock. Thank you. I'm still a little apprehensive about publishing this, but I have to say, I feel an odd sense of relief in being this open. And if sharing my flaws and "secrets" with you guys - in combination with seeing other bloggers I love share theirs - can feel this invigorating and awesome, I wonder how amazing the blogging world as a whole could potentially be if the veil of perfection was lifted to reveal "reality" more often. Even just a little.
If you're considering sharing the things you're afraid to tell on your blog, I say GO FOR IT. Seriously. We're all in this together you guys. Or if you'd like to just share in the comments, I encourage that as well. I love you guys. I may not know you, but I still love you. Mean it.
FILED UNDER: random thoughts/life