Saturday, 7 September 2019

Playing the long game

In 2014, a scandal rocked the blogging world. It wasn't a huge one, but big enough that even newbie bloggers like myself heard about it. A blog called Halfway to Fearless appeared seemingly overnight and was suddenly everywhere. I was still at that stage in my blogging journey where I thought becoming "blog-famous" was a goal of mine, and I eagerly (and often jealously) read every blog that had "made it" for tips how to get there.

But something about this one was off. Even though the blog was only weeks old, it had an unusually high number of followers. One day, the blogger behind Halfway to Fearless recounted how she had been recognized in a coffee shop, and bemoaned how annoying that was, because she said she didn't blog to become famous, but because she loved it. Everything about it sounded phony. Wouldn't anyone unknown be flattered to be recognized by a reader in public? The well-known bloggers I admired always expressed appreciation and gratitude when that happened to them.

And then there was my nagging doubt mixed with envy. Was it really possible to become big after just a few weeks? At that point I had been blogging for over a year, publishing on average 5 posts a week, and I was nowhere near her numbers. Every article, book and blog post I had read about blogging/building a business/making a name for oneself had one thing in common: they all said that it took time. 
Turns out, the overnight success of the blogger was too good to be true. It soon came out that she had created a bunch of fake accounts to boost her comment- and follower-count. She lied about her page views, stole content from successful blogs and posted it as her own, and even started a thread on GOMI (= Get Off My Internets, a snark site targeting blogs) as a publicity stunt. It didn't take long for the truth to come out, and the blog crashed and burnt in a very public manner. The blog and all its associated social media accounts were taken off the internet, never to be heard from again. 

It was a reminder that good things take time. Overnight success is a myth; people who seem to suddenly be famous have worked towards it for a long time. 
Celeste Barber, everybody's favourite funny woman who has an impressive 6 million followers on Instagram, has often been called an "overnight Instagram sensation". In reality she has been working as an actress, comedian and writer for over ten years.

Our society is obsessed with instant gratification. Popular media makes us believe that everything is possible at the snap of a finger if we only want it bad enough, and the only reason why we don't have it is because we're just not good enough.

That's bullshit. This message is not only wrong, it's also dangerous. It destroys dreams, self-esteems and entire lives. You have to know that everything takes time
Building trust with an animal takes time.
Building trust with another person takes time.
Finding yourself takes a shit-ton of time. (For most of us it will take a life-time.)
Having a baby takes a minimum of 9 months, and that's only if everything goes off like fireworks right off the bat, which is not the case for way more people than you ever thought. (They tend not to talk about it, because there is still such a huge stigma attached to not conceiving right away.)
Many of us go to school for a minimum of 12 years, often longer.
Add to that another 4 years of college, if you choose that path.
After that, there are many more years of climbing up that infamous career ladder.

So why the fuck are we led to believe that our bodies/dreams/life goals should be achieved in a matter of weeks? You are guaranteed to fail if you buy into that false message.

The secret is to play the long game. Don't be focused on the finishing line; that is not your goal. You may hope that the answer to all your uncertainty, restlessness and insecurity will be found at the finishing line, but let me tell you a secret: it won't. If you sacrifice everything in order to reach a lofty goal far off in the distance, you will end up disappointed.

Instead, enjoy what you're doing while you're doing it. Also know (and this is important, so listen up) that there will be many days where working on your goal will suck, and that there will be way more days than you can imagine right now where you'll want to quit. But in the end, despite the suckiness and the doubt, you should enjoy what you're doing. Overall, minus the normal shitty days we all experience, you should still fiercely love what you're doing. If you don't, you won't stick to it.
If you start out on something new, don't be discouraged by how long it may take before "you make it". Making it is not the point; the point is to pursue something that makes you feel wildly alive. If you do become successful that's a bonus; it shouldn't be the point.
The point is to find something that makes you excited to get out of bed every morning.
The point is to find something that gives you a greater purpose than just going to work, paying bills, eating, watching TV and going to sleep.

The point is to try. Because we only have that one precious, short life to live, and we should pursue every road that opens up to us to see where it will lead. If we don't like it, we can easily quit.
But what if we do like it? What if that road leads us to something bigger and more significant than we ever thought possible?
We have to go down that road. Who cares how long it will take until we find out where it leads? As long as we enjoy the journey, we should keep on travelling.
I've fought my own passion for a long time. It wasn't a conscious decision, but subconsciously I knew that it would be scary, so it was easier to fight it.

Except, it wasn't. Denying your soul's yearning won't give you lasting peace and satisfaction.
The only thing that has given me lasting gratification is giving in to what my soul wants.

So I'm writing, and blogging, and taking photos of my animals and the stunning landscape that amazes me anew every day.
Keep doing what makes you feel most alive every day. Don't do it for external recognition. Do it for the bliss of sinking into your bed at night, feeling proud of yourself.
Do it for the tingle of excitement that you feel when you have nailed a difficult part.
Do it because it makes you feel inordinately pleased to be alive.

There is no more important reason than that. 



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8 comments

  1. Damn girl. Exactly my thoughts. And exactly my refocus as I internally recommit myself to blogging + photographing simply because it is so damn fun. Love you and your fierce brave honesty to pieces. xoxo.

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    1. Right back at ya Liz!!
      I've read your letter this morning talking about your unintentional hiatus and your focus on only doing what feels authentic and good, and I so hear you! Whatever drains us more than fills us up has to go.
      Our energy and inner peace are too precious!

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  2. I love this and it's everything I'm about right now. I've been blogging for eight years and I have almost no followers. GUESS WHAT: THAT'S OKAY. I write because I want to write. If people jump on the bandwagon, cool. If they don't, I've had fun anyway.

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    1. Doing it for other people is a surefire way to not stick to it for very long. We have to have fun and enjoy it or there's no point!
      So grateful for hobbies that give us joy, and sometimes, as a bonus, give joy to others as well. It's a win/win!

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  3. "The point is to find something that gives you a greater purpose than just going to work, paying bills, eating, watching TV and going to sleep."

    Words to live by!

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    1. Thanks Sydney! I often write about what I need reminding of myself, and this is one of those posts. I love my couch and enjoy the days where I just lounge and relax, but doing something I love, even if it's uncomfortable or exhausting, is when I feel most alive!

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  4. This spoke to me, and I read it at the right time in my life. Thank you, Miriam! I just made the decision to reduce my hours at my full-time job, which I love, down to part-time hours. I had a baby 3 months ago, and I've been attached to her almost every hour of every day, and it broke my heart to think of sending her off to childcare. We weren't ready. I love being with her and watching her grow, we're just getting to know each other still. I was so torn to leave my job and thought "why is it so easy for other moms to do this, and I am struggling so much even *thinking* of leaving her". For that reason, we will continue to play the long game. I sacrificed more money, a good healthcare plan, and paid time off for this sweet little human who is my daughter. She won't be little forever, and full-time work can wait. The magic she makes me feel every time I look at her is worth working a bit harder to just make things work in the mean time. I think of your last blog title, "relax, darling, you have time". That we do. And we may as well enjoy every second of this fleeting time together. <3

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    1. That's a very important and great decision you made, be proud of yourself!! You won't regret having more time with your daughter. Full time work will still be there when your daughter becomes more independent.
      One of the 5 regrets of the dying is not having spent more time with family. It's never "I wish I'd made more money".
      Enjoy this precious time with your new baby!❤

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