Sometimes I think when you’re doing something for an extended amount of time, whether a hobby or a job or an assignment or a what-have-you, it’s important to stop and think “Is this all really worth it?” Now, I don’t mean that in a way where you look at your homework assignment and think “Nah. This isn’t worth it because I won’t need these skills in RL so I might as well slack off.” So if you have homework to do, you probably should still do it. (Nice try, though!)
What I’m talking about is the need to take time and reflect. To think about where you are with the things you’re doing and whether or not you’re happy with that progress. To look at all the time and effort you’re putting into something, and deciding if the results of all your hard work are actually worth it.
Sometimes it can be easy to just get stuck in the rut of doing things to doing things. But when there’s so many things to do – and so many other things you want to do – it’s important to think about it all. So today I want to think about it. I want to think about blogging.
This This Is Worth It (For Me)
I’ve been blogging for over a year now. Compared to many, that’s nothing. Compared to some, that’s everything. But this isn’t comparing about myself to others so let’s forget about that…
I’ve been blogging for over a year now and while there have been some bumps in the road, I feel like I can honestly say it’s all been worth it. Why?
It helps me build meaningful relationships.
I often admire people who have friends. That can sound like such a weird thing to say, but it’s true. I don’t feel like I really have any friends. Out of the (almost) year I’ve been here in the UK, I would honestly only consider one person as my true friend. As someone who I feel 100% comfortable around and enjoy talking to. (Hi Chantelle!) That’s not to say I am this sad person who no one likes or anything like that. I just don’t know how to be a friend usually. I have trust issues and struggle with insecurities when it comes to friends, more than I would ever like to admit, and I think when I do get the guts and try to be a friend it shows.
But online? It’s different. I don’t feel like I’m holding myself back or making things awkward. It’s not as hard for me to talk to people on Twitter or the blog. I am excited to talk to others and find myself building relationships with others that I truly value and appreciate. And though I may be thousands of miles away, I absolutely feel like the friendships I make online are just as real, if not more real, than any I make in person. The cards, the letters, the emails, the tweets, the comments – if you interact with me in any way, you are my friend and I truly thank you for that!
It allows me to be a part of a community.
I love this community and I am proud to be a part of it. I know things pop up, and there are times when the community is not-so-loveable, but I really do not think it is as bad as some people make it. In every community, there will be challenges. But I feel like ours is one that generally warm and welcoming – especially if you have a love for books! It feels good to be a part of a collection of people who share an interest and to be able to proudly say “I’m a book blogger”.
It makes me feel less alone.
The blogging community has definitely made me feel less alone, and in two major ways. The first has to do with my quirks. I sometimes feel like I’m a bit of an oddball. I mean, we all do, right? But as I take the time to write my posts and share my many quirks, I have come to realize that I’m not alone. Sure, maybe not everyone completely understands or agrees with my inability to read used books, but there are a handful of people who get it. There are some who are the same way, or quite similar. And realizing that makes me feel a little less like some circus freak in the book world.
But even better than that, the blogging world makes me feel less alone in the sense that there is always someone out there supporting me. As you know, I struggle with depression. It may not be to the extent it was before, but it’s still always there and I definitely have some bad days. And sometimes, when you’re feeling so low, it’s hard not to be stuck in your own head and feel so alone. But with blogging I’m never alone. Whether it’s through a comment, a tweet, a like, or even a hand-written letter that brings me to tears (thank you Chiara <3), I know that I am not alone in this community and that people believe in me. Sometimes I need that to believe in myself.
It opens the world to me.
One of my absolute favorite thing about blogging is how global it is. Growing up in Indiana, I didn’t think I would ever explore the world outside of the Midwest USA. But that’s not true at all. Each day I can hop from the UK to US to Australia to the Philippines to anywhere just by hopping through blogs. I can learn about different people and different cultures, and make friends all around the world.
And it has definitely helped! When I moved to the UK, I already had a group of bloggers ready to welcome me. People who invited me out and were truly amazing. (Thank you Daphne, Cait, Stacey, Debbie, Faye, Caroline, etc!) It’s just an amazing thing to think about how everyone is so far apart and yet so close together.
It provides me with new experiences.
Blogging has definitely brought me some new experiences, that I would probably never enjoy otherwise. Though I barely work with publishers or authors, I have read an ARC or two, which is something I didn’t even know about before blogging. I was even able to tag along to a publisher’s Blogger Brunch here in London, where I watched as the publicity professionals tried to engage bloggers with information about their upcoming titles while giving out bags of free books!
Even outside of those publisher/blogger-specific perks, blogging has brought me new experiences. I’ve joined book clubs, which is something I’ve never been quite interested in before. I’ve participated in online bookish events, which have been a lot of fun. And I’ve even ventured into different online platforms I thought I would never use – such as Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr!
It tests my originality and creativity.
One of the main challenges with blogging, that frustrates some but excites me, is how hard it is to be original and creative. It seems everything has been done already. Even when you think something hasn’t been done, it probably has been and you just haven’t seen it yet. (I actually have a post I want to write about this, so stay tuned!) You really have to work hard to be creative and original, looking at what’s already around in the blogosphere and trying to decide what you can bring to it. I’ve come up with tons of features and some have come and gone (though most still sporadically appear) and while not everything I do is completely unique I am proud that I have a couple of features to my name that people recognize me by.
It allows me to inspire others.
This is a perk of blogging that I have only realized more recently, and yet is one of the things that I absolutely cherish about blogging. Blogging can make a difference.
Take my Trying New Features post. I shared my personal experiences with coming up with new features and encouraged bloggers to use that an inspiration to start their own features – and they did! Fahima started a fan-art feature (where she has interviewed the artists whose work is featured in the special edition of Eleanor and Park) and Rinn started a feature that combines her love of books with video games (with her first post highlighting books that would make the best MMOs). The fact that these ladies read my post and then actually felt inspired to start their features? Amazing.
On a more personal note, my Past with Depression post inspired others to join the conversation about mental health. Kelley wrote her own post recounting her experiences with depression, Emily also talked about her struggles, and others opened up through the comments and emails. Writing that post and seeing that it helped fuel the conversation about this issue that is so close to my heart, and that it helped others – whether in healing or just understanding – has meant the world to me. It’s made me realize how powerful a platform blogging can be, and how it can make a difference in people’s lives.
It helps with my career (and degree).
I honestly think blogging has helped me tremendously when it comes to my Publishing MA and pursuit in a publishing career. I have it listed on my CV and I know that publishers have looked at it prior to accepting me for work placements. This community has given me insider knowledge about publisher’s relationships with bloggers, even to the point that when one of my modules had a blogger come in to give a guest lecture about how her book blogging hobby works I could pretty much just turn off because I knew it all. (But hey, it’s nice that my classmates got to learn a bit about us book bloggers.)
Even if this was just general blogging, and not book blogging, it would still help. It is a real-life example of my skills and experience. I can use it in interviews to talk about my ability to manage events, the importance of organization, how I can work both independently or as part of a team, etc. Blogging may be just a hobby, but it impacts my professional life as well. It’s up to me to make sure that impact stays positive!
It fuels my love for all things bookish.
Of course, before I end this list (which originally had many more things added but that I’ve cut down since it’s so long!) I need to at least mention one more bookish benefit. Blogging has made me loves books on a whole new level. When you’re surrounded by people who love books and you take great joy out of talking about books, it’s hard not to feel your love for books grow and grow. I find myself reading more books, buying more books, and just generally caring about all things bookish – and I think that’s great. Books are a huge part of my life, both personally and professionally, and I love that blogging has fueled that fire and made that passion stronger.
Blogging is worth it for me. And that worth isn’t based off the numbers of views or comments or follows our blog receives, or how many books or gifts I receive. It’s worth it because it awards me with all these little things that help me grow both personally and professionally. And as long as I am able to see how good this is for me, and feel how good it makes me feel, then I will keep on doing it. I will keep on blogging and putting my bookish heart out there for you all, and hope that it’ll always be worth it.