There was a time when I really enjoyed blogging. I had been quilting for several years before I discovered blogging, but only a handful of people ever got to see the quilts I made. So it was pretty exciting for me to be able to take pictures of a quilt, write a little something about it and post it for the world to see. (And of course by "world" I mean the 5 people who knew about my blog back then). I thought every quilt I made was amazing and beautiful, and I couldn't wait to show them off. Once I did, I really enjoyed getting feedback from family and friends and a few random strangers. I would read the comments they left, get a warm fuzzy feeling, shoot them a thank you email, then get back to quilting. Oh, that it could have continued like that forever. But it was not to be.
I think the beginning of the end was the day I discovered the "stats" tab, a few months in. Previous to blogging, I would judge the worth of a quilt by how much I liked it, and the reaction of the person who ended up receiving it. Upon discovering that I could tell how many people were visiting my blog and looking at my quilts on any given day, that started to change. I became more concerned with what I thought other people thought of my quilts (and by extension, me.) Stats and comments became a measuring stick for my success (or failure) as a quilter and it began affecting the way I felt about myself.
The online quilting world then became this competitive place where I felt I had to prove myself. I started comparing my stuff to everyone else's. I began being judgmental, jealous, critical and withholding praise. I didn't allow myself to comment too much or get too involved - I became less and less concerned with forming relationships and more concerned with gaining followers.
I started making rules. Lots of strict rules for myself to follow. I couldn't make the same quilt twice or use the same fabric twice. Every quilt had to be new and different and my own design. I couldn't use patterns or make quilts that others had designed. I could only post finished quilts. Publicly admitting I liked comments was a no no. Inviting people to become followers, hosting giveaways, random blog buttons, advertising -- all not allowed. Keep in mind, I wasn't writing these down...they were almost like mental notes that I barely knew I was taking. Some of the rules were in response to things I saw other bloggers doing. Others were a way to handle to insecurities or the slightest hint of criticism. But most, I have no idea when or how or why I came up with them. I just knew they must be followed. They were necessary to maintaining the illusion of perfection I had created. I couldn't break the rules without being harshly critical of myself so I followed most of them to a T.
And it all happened so gradually, I didn't even realize what was happening. I let something I really enjoyed turn into something I needed to feel good about myself. And that turned into something I didn't love but felt obligated to do, until it turned into something I could barely stand to think about. I didn't stop making quilts, but there were times I thought, do I even like quilting? So eventually I just stopped posting things on my blog. I told myself it was because I was too busy. I had a bunch of kids now. I had a life. Nobody else was blogging anymore- it was just the natural progression of things. Yeah...those were the reasons I had stopped. But at that point, I really had no idea why.
The past couple of months I have been doing a lot of thinking. I have found a way of changing a lot of my thoughts that I didn't realize were affecting me so much. And as a result, I've been having a lot of success at changing old habits and beliefs and starting to fix things I thought couldn't be fixed. One of those things was my enjoyment of sharing myself and talents. So I have decided to start over. I'm getting a new website. I'm changing the way I do things. And I will be throwing out every single one of my old rules. And I will be making up for lost time...since I have about 20 quilts I have not yet shared! I am pretty excited! More details coming...hope to see you again soon!
P.S. I don't share any of these things so you will excuse me or try to make me feel better...I am ok...not proud of some of this stuff...but I am really ok with it. I have learned a lot from these experiences and I now feel like there is value in sharing some of my struggles along with the pretty things I make. Maybe it will help someone to be more wise than I have been. :)