I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. Some days ago I laid in bed and indulged, I scrolled up down, side to side. I can't quite remember what I saw but I remember a dark cloud suddenly hanging over my head as I sunk into my bed. A few minutes later I shoved my ipad aside and reached for my phone. I checked my bbm updates and there it was; Comparison is the thief of joy.
Indeed. Looking at the picture perfect lives of others and wondering why everyone else's life is much better than mine sapped the joy out of me. At my age I'm wise enough to know that the cliche; 'all that glitters is not gold' is indeed true, and that those flawless filtered pictures are just that; pictures. Yet...
Admittedly it was more than the pictures, it was seeing people making moves, achieving, accomplishing. I was seeing ideas that I once had, being brought to life by someone else and me saying to myself; wait, you thought of this a while ago, what stopped you? It was also probably the numerous perfect-pretty wedding proposals and wedding pictures. It was the perfect bodies with the flattest bellies and the curviest bums. And little by little, unknown to me, with each picture and each passing thought I got less and less happy.
And that's what happens when you ignore the blessings in your own life and focus on that of others. For those moments I forgot that as I am, I'm a cause of envy to others, I forgot about my own accomplishments, I forgot about the numerous blessings in my life. In that moment I forgot all the reasons I have to be thankful.
Yes, what actually happens when you ignore your blessings and focus on the blessings of others is that you begin to feel jealous, or envious. I rarely ever feel that way. But...
This brings me to something I read this morning; Blog(ger) Envy.
So it seems a lot of bloggers have this and it's quite natural. I suppose it's the feeling you get when you visit another person's blog and begin to compare it with yours. You notice that that blogger has more readers, more comments, more content, is more creative than you are, her posts are a lot more intellectual than yours, her readers are a lot more supportive and generally her blog is just better than yours... And joy begins to slip away from you as envy seeps in.
This is very understandable but I must have missed the memo and my situation was the complete reverse. For months after I started my blog I was so keen on it succeeding that I somehow became oblivious to other blogs besides the usual gossip blogs that a long period of consumption had made me accustomed to. I knew some of my readers had blogs, some started after I started mine, some long before I started mine, but truth be told it never quite occurred to me to visit, know what they talked about, support them or leave a comment. Not because I didn't wish them well, but basically because I just did not have the time. You see, unlike most other personal blogs that do one post a day, every other day, a week, I was determined to do at least three posts a day (I have no idea why). What this meant however was that I had no time for anything else.
Eventually though I began to notice that my blogger-readers became fewer and fewer and their comments became lesser and lesser. For a while I paid it no mind, but after a while I took the time to a ask myself why. After some weeks of reflection it occured to me that I hadn't reciprocated the love so naturally they withdrew theirs. Totally understandable.
So then I decided, Thelma, be more sociable. I then began to occasionally, when I could find the time, visit other personal/lifestyle blogs. I noticed that some were doing really well; I was very happy for them. I noticed that some of my loyal readers also read other blogs and even showed them more love, I was mad at them at first, notwithstanding the fact that I, or no one, has any monopoly over anyone on the blogosphere. Then I stopped being mad and rolled my eyes at myself and laughed it off. Then, I noticed that some of those blogs were doing much much way more far more better than mine, some which even began after mine! Yes, for the first time I felt blog envy. I remember stumbling on a blog that started several months after mine, the blogger once used to comment here and I had no idea she was a blogger until I saw hers, and I noticed that her posts average about 70 comments each. Now this went beyond envy, for a second I was actually bitter. Why? I asked myself; what is she doing that I'm not? I decided to go through her posts (noticed she actually took some ideas/topics from mine, but it's all good), I studied her writing style, her interaction with her readers etc, still I couldn't figure out why her traffic was a thousand times more than mine, or why she had so many comments...
The next time I visited her blog I noticed it had grown even more. This time however I actually giggled and felt genuinely happy for her. Maybe without even meaning to I learnt some things in the months between when I first stumbled upon her blog and then.
I learnt, or rather reminded myself that the only person I'm in competition with is myself.
I learnt that it's very easy to allow yourself be derailed by what you see, and you shouldn't. Think, most of us personal/lifestyle bloggers did not create our blogs to compete or even make money. For a lot of us it was supposed to be an outlet, our journal, a hobby, an experiment. Why then do we forget this and become so high strung, competitive, vicious and joyless?
I learnt that most people wish you well, only until you begin to do better than them. Lesson: do not be one of such people.
And I realized that there's folly in refusing to see the sky as big enough.
But that's it for now with blogger envy.
The bigger issue really is comparisons. Do NOT do it, in a life filled with bitterness, struggles, disappointments, inadequacies and epileptic power supply, one ought to guard even the tiniest bit their joy as jealously as they possibly can. Already people will try to steal your joy, unfortunately some will succeed, why allow comparison take a piece of what's left?
...And yes, I have decided to put up less posts. Life just got busier!