Yep, here I sit, writing a blog post about how much blogging scares me, knowing full well that it didn’t always do so. I’ve been writing stories of some kind for as long as I’ve been able to string words together, some of them true stories, some of them fantasy. I began to blog in college (sorry, I can’t link you to that … haha … well, maybe you should be thankful), though that was mostly to see myself write and not really for anyone to read. I’m sure some people did, but my first semester of college was before Facebook (I’m old; I even grew up without the internet).
When I graduated from college, I packed my bags and moved to Japan for two years to teach English and work with a church. I blogged then, too, writing about my cultural and spiritual experiences in a country very different than my own. It helped me get through the culture shock, the language barrier and the soul growth I went through on a daily basis. It let me talk about how beautiful everything was, how delicious most things were and how awesome the people were in my life there. Family and a few friends kept up with my blog (which, unfortunately, is no longer in existence either). I began to read other blogs more seriously then as well, mostly the blogs of other graphic designers I admired or other creatives that inspired me. I began to see blogging as less of a form of self-expression – like all things were in the early days of the internet – and more of an opportunity for interaction.
I came back to the States exhausted in a good way, letting my blogging habits slide for several years as I looked into graduate schools and met my future husband. I kept up with my sketchbooks, however, which was something I had started in college while working on my BFA. Drawing and sketching took the place of my virtual writing for a while, though sometimes I toyed with writing short stories and planning a graphic novel I’ve never really finished writing in my head.
In grad school, I mostly continued to read blogs, though I’ll admit I was (and still am) an infrequent commenter. Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say, other times I don’t want my comment to feel trite and other times I think I’m genuinely afraid of a connection. That looks silly to type, but I think it’s part of my hesitation to blog again. I love reading others’ words as much as I love writing them. Some people have amazing lives, others take awesome photos and many people inspire me with their creativity. It was worthwhile to take a break from blogging during some of the busiest years of my life: grad school as a newlywed is not for the faint of heart. Once we settled into our lives, however, I began to miss my chronicling of it all.
I picked blogging back up again after the birth of our first son. I took photos, I had lots to say and I thought I was finally discovering my voice. I wrote about my birth experience, I wrote about cloth diapering, I wrote about our tiny townhome garden and I wrote about how I missed being home with my baby once I went back to work. I blogged for over a year, interacting with my friends and a few strangers through comments and connecting between Facebook and my blog (the remnants of my blog can be found here). It was fun. I had missed writing and sharing very much, but I can look back and see where the seed of self-doubt was planted in my heart.
My blog wasn’t like other blogs, not even like the blogs I admired. Maybe I wasn’t good at blogging. Maybe I wasn’t blogging correctly. Maybe I was going to run out of things to say.
Those doubts continued to fester under the surface as I quit my full-time job as a designer and attempted to go freelance. Freelancing went well for a while, and I loved being home with my family. I had more to blog about and toyed a bit with adding themes to each day of the week I wrote. I attempted to get more organized with my words, but when freelancing got difficult, my writing faltered. I lost a lot of self-confidence, and perhaps that affected my freelancing career as much as it did my writing. My lack of writing confidence inhibited my marketing reach and often held me back from really defining my business as a graphic designer. Blogging hindrances were just a hint at a bigger, internal problem that I’m still working out in order to give freelancing a second chance with real success down the road.
Those seeds of doubt grew into big tall weeds and overshadowed my passion for writing and my love of connecting and sharing with others.
Here I am with a three-year old and a five-month old, living in a new city with another full-time design job as my husband and I work out the beginnings of a letterpress printing business behind the scenes. I’m not writing about my journey anymore, though there are so many beautiful and amazing things I could be writing down (and not to mention oodles of photo opportunities with the littles). But I’m not.
Part of me feels oversaturated. Maybe I’ve read too much, fallen into the comparison trap and let the fear of not being as good or as pretty or as wordy as others get in the way of my knowledge that I’m special too and have plenty to say that may even be valuable to others. I’ve got to climb out of this hole I’ve dug. If I’ve learned anything over the past year or so, it’s that I do have things to say.
The other part of me is just afraid I can’t keep up. I’m busy. I’ve got two growing boys, a full-time job, a husband and soon a house to take care of. I know in my heart, however, that if there’s something I love, I’ll make time for it. I can watch an hour less of TV before bed (not that I watch much at the moment) to write a blog post if it’s something I really want to do. I can spend a bit of time on the weekend planning for the week and still snuggle my babies, go to the farm to pick up our CSA veggies, see friends and do some printing when there’s a job to put together. All of this is possible, but it does take discipline. If I can survive grad school, I can do anything.
So, what’s holding me back, really? Why am I so afraid of blogging again?
Even writing about it makes me feel foolish. It feels so good (so good) to be writing at this moment, a baby curled up asleep on my chest. I’ve missed this.
I can do this.
I just need to stop thinking there’s monsters under the bed here on the internet. I know it’s not true. I’ve already found some fantastic connections and inspiring support through online communities and on Twitter. I don’t need to write or take photos like anyone else; I just need to remind myself that being me is more than enough … Because, it is!
Just writing this has brought back happy memories and reminded me that there’s certainly plenty for me to say and do in a blog. My journey isn’t always easy, but all of it is important. I’m so thankful for the connections I’ve made and the encouragement I’ve found online that I’m excited about overcoming this fear and letting my voice be heard again.
Tiffany Smith is a designer, illustrator, and letterpress printer for Stubborn Press & Company. She’s also a wife, a mama, and a coffee lover in the process of starting a new design and printing business with her husband while holding down the fort with a day job. She looks forward to working from home again, this time with success!
Krystle: Thanks Tiffany, and we all hope you jump back into blogging. You can do it and this is proof!
Fear Confessions is a series of essays by creatives who share personal stories about facing their fears. It’s a celebration of vulnerability.