Normally, I’m really good at remembering important dates: Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, even doggie birthdays. But, in the chaos of triathlon training, conference prepping and the start-up of another exciting term of teaching, I managed to overlook a significant milestone – The Bliss List’s first anniversary. That’s right, The Bliss List is one year old!
I didn’t totally overlook it; I knew it was coming up, though I admit I wasn’t sure of the actual day. That’s because I wasn’t sure which date was “official”. Was it the day that I purchased the domain name and set up the account? Was it the day I published my first ever post? Or, was it the day that I announced it to my friends and family? Regardless of whichever day it was, I knew it happened around this time of year, but with everything that had been going on, I wasn’t able to acknowledge it in the way I had hoped.
For several years I had thought about one day creating a blog, but doubted whether I could really do it. I doubted whether anyone would ever read it. I doubted that I would be able to create good content. I doubted the I had the ability. But one day, I finally decided to push all of my doubts aside long enough to take the plunge and I’m so glad I did because I learned some amazing lessons along the way.
Success looks different to everybody
Many people may look at my blog and think it is not a success. I don’t make money off my blog (for the record – that’s never been my goal), I don’t have thousands of pageviews every day and I don’t have thousands of followers on social media. I don’t have brands reaching out for promotions and I don’t belong to any affiliate programs. Does that mean my blog is not successful? I don’t think so, especially when I consider the other wins I’ve achieved. I have had multiple people reach out to tell me how something I wrote really resonated with them, or it came at exactly the right time. I’ve found out at work meetings or social gatherings that people I would have never expected are reading my blog and, more importantly, enjoying it. I’ve committed to a regular writing practice, I’ve learned so many things about blogging and the tools available to help, and I’ve met some fantastic people from all over the world. I’ve dabbled in things I never would have before like graphic design, photography and coding. I am by no means a professional in any of these, but I once heard the quote “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something”, so I’m working on the former. I feel immensely proud of what I have created and, though it doesn’t fit into the box what others might call “successful”, working on my blog is perhaps the most successful I’ve ever felt.
Stay true to yourself
If you take a look back at my early posts, you would see content that is very different from what I regularly post now. I shared recipes, product reviews and DIY projects and, while I enjoyed doing these things, I felt like there was more that I wanted to say. I could feel myself being pulled toward topics I felt more passionately about, like personal development, goal-setting and self-care. Once I started writing about these topics, I felt lighter and happier. I finally felt like I was being my true, authentic self for the first time. Turning to this blog to write a new post has helped me grow as a person and a writer. It has helped me to see what’s truly in my heart. Don’t get me wrong – I love reading food and fashion blogs and anyone who knows me knows I love a good craft project, but carving out a space online for it just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until I started getting real about what I was feeling and thinking that I was able to find my inner voice. Those other blogs may be more successful, but it turned out that no matter how many people liked or followed my blog, it wouldn’t be successful if I wasn’t writing about what was in my heart.
I have something to say
My biggest worry going into this blog was that I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say. I wondered if people found my blog, would they want to read more? Once I found my voice and figured out what I really wanted to talk about, the words found their way to the page quite easily. As it turned out, people were eager to read. I heard from many people that could really resonate with the different topics on my blog. It shouldn’t have been surprising to me that the hurdles I had been facing were not unique and many others were feeling the same way. Writing about a lot of these issues helped me to work through some things, but knowing that it helped others is a feeling that makes all the tough days worth it.
Don’t let others opinions (or your belief of their opinions) define you
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and not everyone is going to like everything you do, but that doesn’t mean someone else’s opinion is the only opinion. It’s completely natural to want positive feedback after putting yourself out there. We are all guilty of it, but it doesn’t always come. If someone doesn’t comment or like a post, or tell you that they enjoyed it, does that mean that they hated it? Probably not. It was really difficult for me to get over the feeling of putting a lot of time and energy into a post only to find out that it wasn’t the smash hit I thought it would be. It’s not always easy, but I try to remind myself that I’m doing this for myself – to bring joy into my life, to write about topics that are important to me and to grow as a person. If I let every negative thought define me, I wouldn’t have made it to the one year mark. And, as it turns out, most of what I believed others were thinking was completely unfounded.
Comparison is the thief of happiness
This was a hard lesson to learn. If you are a blogger, it can be really easy to look at other bloggers who are succeeding, gaining huge followings and making a living off their passion and wonder why it isn’t happening for you? I was really hard on myself when I first got started. I remember thinking such negative thoughts and getting discouraged. Comparing myself to other bloggers was one of the worst things I could have done; one look at their site was enough to suck any joy I had felt about what I created. It also wasn’t a fair comparison in most cases – I wasn’t a full-time blogger or investing money in promoting my site. I’m not saying that in one year I’ve figured out how to get over this – it’s still something that I’m working on – but recognizing that comparing myself to others was robbing me of any happiness I felt was an important lesson to learn. I’ve learned that it’s not about getting to some kind of end point, it’s all about the process.
Lean into the fear
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is incredibly challenging. Especially in a creative space, baring your soul for the world to see takes a lot of courage, but it comes with the greatest rewards. Yes, it is difficult. You feel exposed and bare, but it is much scarier to live your life running from those experiences. I have learned to embrace the fear of releasing my writing to the world, knowing that the feedback may not always be positive. In doing so, I have grown so much as a person. I feel lighter, happier and more full of life because I am being my authentic self. I have learned that I have an inherent desire and need to create. I believe that the path I am on now is one that I will continue to go down for the rest of my life, exploring, learning and embracing every imperfection along the way.