Authenticity: If Found, Return to Bloggers

November 1, 2016

In complete honesty, this blog post was first inspired by jealously and resentment. In the past year, since I made a commitment to become a “more serious blogger”, I found myself changing drastically. I spent A LOT of money on items and clothes I didn’t need and sometimes didn’t even like because I felt they were blog worthy. I focused on taking pictures of specific items, in a specific lighting, and even attended specific events because I felt compelled to do so as a blogger. Personal blogging, coupled with incessant social media use, changed me. I became infatuated with likes and new followers and tracking other analytics. I felt continuously challenged by other bloggers I followed who appeared to be more successful or growing faster than I was. I resented bloggers who landed major sponsored gigs and who appear to dress perfectly on a daily basis, complete with hair and makeup. I was frustrated by thin women with impeccable skin, perfectly decorated homes, and an outstanding photographer following them around at seemingly every hour.

Blogging, one of my favorite professional interests, became a detriment to my self-esteem. Let me reiterate, blogging is hard work. I likewise know all of the coveted bloggers I pretend to abhor to make myself feel better must also work very hard and consistently to maintain their image and loyal following. I keep telling myself, my boyfriend, and really anyone who will listen that I would have the best site or the best photos or the best home décor or even – wait for it – the best body if I had the time to wholly focus on my blog. Alas, my physical appearance is not even remotely tied to my success as a blogger, yet I still let myself believe that they are one in the same. My frustrations are real, and not so much the fault of the female bloggers I follow, as is a culture of believing that outfits, lifestyles, and adventures are exactly as they seem in an Instagram photo. We must all come to an agreement and commit to being more authentic. Authenticity does not stifle our individuality as bloggers; it paints a realistic picture of life and of a professional industry that isn’t always pretty. Can I just say that I really hate buffalo plaid and think chokers should have been left in the 90s? Whew, I feel better.

Call me a little whiny, but I’m tired of trying to DO IT ALL. I’m young and very capable, but it’s really challenging to feel like you’re consistently underperforming at a variety of tasks, tired all the time, and unhappy with your weight and energy level. Busy isn’t glamorous and I would appreciate if everyone could give up the glorification of exhausted. I had a small internal meltdown this past weekend when I bought cupcakes for my 23rd birthday. I bought cupcakes because they were cute and would make for a cute blog post. I didn’t even eat them. I am not modeling the kind of behavior I preach to young women in my book, nor do I want to support anyone who believes posting a fake or overly glamorized version of life does favors for young women. I want to write posts that mean more than promotion of a product for a company that cuts me a check. I want to create articles that showcase women’s strength and intelligence, not just a new sweater I bought on sale. I want to take pictures that celebrate happy and genuine moments in my life, not just a feigned photo op that was staged because I felt obligated to post.

Frankly, I’m sick of the categories. I’m sick of being added to tens of Facebook groups every week that will supposedly give me a competitive edge to blogging. I’m sick of maintain a follower ratio, or feeling obligated to follow someone and like their photos when I don’t even know them or care about their content. I’m sick of people asking me if I’m thematically more fashion or lifestyle. I am just a blogger. And a part-time blogger at that. Of course, I wish that I was in a position to blog full-time, work with major brands consistently, and wholly make my own way as a self-supported entrepreneur, but I’m not there yet. I have a full time job, attend graduate school, just released my first book, complete regular freelance writing projects, and tutor students in Spanish. Additionally, I try to have a personal life where I spend quality time with my friends, family, and dog. I also like to sleep. I really, really like to sleep.

I’m not on a rampage to criticize bloggers who are thriving in a niche. I’m just saying that’s not for me anymore. I tried, and had little fun in the process. Being critical of over-dramatization and excessive glamour is not intended to jab at other women’s’ professional crafts. Such conversation, however, does point to successful and admirable blogging being overwhelmingly class oriented. There is room at the table for everyone, I’m just choosing to sit under it right now. So three cheers for those of you who stand in solidarity and develop meaningful relationships through blogging. It’s about a hell of lot more than gaining a new follower. I thought that by referring to myself as a budget fashion blogger and thriving on good deals that I could stay grounded in this highly competitive and overwhelming profession. I was wrong. So, if that means selling my expensive bags and dresses to get back to a simpler style that is true to myself, that’s what I will do.

I’m not going to quit blogging. Sorry – you can’t get rid of me that easily. What I will do is stop apologizing. I’m no longer going to make excuses for myself as to why I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I’m also going to stop hosting giveaways with a monetary buy-in and link-ups and every other petty endeavor I’ve participated in and thrown money at in a poor attempt to attract new followers. I’m not going to post on Instagram everyday if I have nothing genuine to share. Here, I renew my year-old commitment to write. I will write passionately and I will write often. I cannot promise that what I post will always be refined and polished or as articulate as many of the posts to which my loyal followers have grown accustomed. I promise to create quality images for my website and social media that showcase authentic experiences and genuine emotion. I vow to stop purchasing and promoting items or styles that I don’t genuinely love. I want to live my life – even if it means tucking major triumphs into the simpler bits of happiness on social media. Enjoy my new logo as it represents a renewed purpose for blogging and a return to all that actually matters.

 

XO,

Sarah

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2 Comments

  • Reply Deborah November 9, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I love this post! and wholeheartedly agree with you! it’s so hard to not compete with other bloggers even though you know you shouldn’t. Personally, I’m rebranding my blog and hoping to to just focus on me and how I can add positivity to the world through my blog 🙂

    • Reply sarah.caton@uky.edu November 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      So proud of you! I struggle with this every single day. You always must remember why you began writing or blogging in the first place. It’s my outlet and creative way to share my talents with the world – no good will come from being overly competitive! Thanks for reading! 🙂

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