Monday, October 31, 2016

Official Resignation as a Fake Expert.

Hi, all. (All 4 of you.)

I've been feeling really ick about blogging lately. Like a skeevy, weirdo, not comfortable feeling.

I chewed on this feeling for quite a while - wondering what the heck it meant for me, and what to do with it. Blogging has been a part of my life for 15 years....I couldn't understand why, for the last handful, I started to have so many issues with it.

It became harder to earn traffic and readers, and that was certainly part of it. Social media with smart algorithms and blog readers with not a lot of time to commit. I get it, but that made the investment of time, creativity, and sometimes money not worth a single post, let alone a posting schedule. That was certainly part of it. But there was something more - something deeper. Something that made me want to run away from blogging altogether. 

What I concluded, is this.

Blogging has become a community of individuals who are interested in a topic, an idea, or a lifestyle...and they try to act like experts about it. Their (our) platform is no longer about sharing - it's about teaching.


Blogging is no longer about telling your story and sharing life with others, but about convincing everyone that you are so similar to each individual reader that they should trust your judgement and do what you do.

Even the bloggers that mostly write about life do so with an air of, "see how I'm doing it? Pretty good, right? Here's how you can do it, too."

Maybe some of that is the blogger painting a pretty picture of their life, but it's mostly the nature of the internet. We turn to it to diagnose an ailment, to research for a paper we're writing, or to get ideas for decorating our homes or throwing a party. Remember what it was like planning a wedding before Pinterest?! We had to come up with those ideas ourselves. Now we want the Internet to tell us what the heck to do, because it's the closest we've ever been to having a users manual for human life.

So for those blogging masters and Internet mavens, it only makes sense to give people what they want. Why not making a living at the same time?

I tried for so long to become one of them - to call myself a paid writer who dictates her own pieces and topics. I "attended" (virtually) many blogging workshops in that quest, and their messages have a common theme: be an expert in your niche. Which, I don't know, has two sides of the coin for me. I think it's awesome and amazing that in this technological age we are able to simply swap ideas and teach each other things in seconds that previous generations had to fight for. I am a better parent because of the Internet. Without it, I would have only known what my parents showed me, and what their parents showed them - never knowing there were other options. But then there's the loosely educated opinions being tossed around as facts, and it starts to get a little messy.

My point is that faking it until you make it as an expert can be a really awesome thing. But it's also kind of freaking annoying. Because ANYONE can do it. And we all are.


I played along. I pretended to be a paper crafting expert once upon a time. I pretended to be a housewife-ing, domestic expert once. (Actually, no, a few times.) I've been pretending to be an expert on happiness, wellness, mindfulness, etc., on this blog.

And during none of those phases have I actually considered myself anything close to an expert on my topic. In fact, I was often ashamed of the fact that I was acting as though I did.

I was just following a formula. Writing about things that felt good and passionate to me, and then tailoring them to be prettied up with a catchy title and a Pinterest image that will make people click. Because that is what us Pinteresters want: someone to tell us how to do something so we don't have to figure it out ourselves. How to hack life, how to pretend we have craft talent, how to raise kind children, how to go on vacation, how to be a good spouse, how to throw a party that people will be talking about for years. How to be the best at it all.

The blogging world requires that whatever you have to say, must also show others how to do exactly what you've just done, or are striving to do. You have to sell your idea like it's the first time anyone has ever thought it, and you're such a genius that they can't afford not to hop on your train. You've got to include the part that relates to every single person that might stumble on your space, and then give them a step by step on how to carbon copy you.

That's what the Internet has evolved into. Break out your point into bullet points or small paragraphs with huge, bold headlines. Litter it with huge, professional pictures that tell the story for you so your readers don't actually have to read very much. Make it SO skimmable. Give them a tutorial for how to take a shower or boil water or change a diaper, because without the fake experts of the internet, people won't know what to do with themselves.

In fact, I sometimes do work for a company that hires me for sponsored posts to share products, and for what I'm assuming is the exact same reason, they require a tutorial for EVERYTHING. Even things that don't make any sense to have a tutorial for. Even if you have to just pull a completely unrelated tutorial out of the air and then somehow connect it in an obvious, flawless way so that everyone is like, WHOA...I never knew organizing my medicine cabinet would help me brew better coffee. It's because people only want to click on your post, and actually read (or skim) through it, if something is going to tell them how to be BETTER. Simpler, lazier, better than the next guy.

And I think I have finally - FINALLY realized, that this is why I have grappled with my blog for so long.

I am totally exhausted by carrying the weight of making anything I have to say or share into a lesson on life for, potentially, hundreds of sets of eyes, all looking for ways to poke holes in what I've said. I am a relentless Questioner, and I always believe that there's more to a story, more to learn, and reason to doubt someone's authority. NO ONE has their shit together as much as they'd like you to believe. 

And I assume everyone is doing the same with me, even if they're not. People SHOULD be testing the realities of my "expertise" - I absolutely do with everyone I encounter. I definitely don't have a psychology degree, I am a guru of nothing, and I certainly haven't kept my house in order (or even in a lack of chaos) for enough consecutive days to talk like I know what I'm doing domestically.

One day recently, when I was really trying HARD to make my blog worth something, I did a little research on how to overcome the question and feeling of, "who am I to talk about this? Who am I to instruct anyone on anything?" The answers I came up with basically coached me to just believe in myself, and to simply instruct more gently so I didn't worry so much about speaking with authority.

But that's not at all the answer I was looking for.

What if I don't deserve my authority? 
What if suggestive authority feels just as skeevy? 
What if I simply didn't want it anymore?

So that's exactly the conclusion I came to. I'm not going to try and be one anymore.

Enrychment was supposed to be my story of creating a better life and hoping to inspire others along the way. I don't even know why. Maybe because I thought if I built a positive, progressive community around my own better life efforts, I could keep myself moving. You know how they say the best way to learn something is to teach it? Maybe that was part of it.

But what that all turned into is feeling like I had to always be "on it." (And let me tell you a little secret about that - I'm almost never on it. My shit is not only not together, it's scattered all over the damn place.) 

My posts had to constantly focus on living better and happier, and sometimes I just wanted to show people the smile on my son's face that made me overflow with love that week (but no one else cared.) 

Sometimes I just wanted to talk about the fear and frustration surrounding my other son's ongoing health problems (but I knew no one else could relate, and certainly didn't come to my blog to read about a 7 year old's bowel habits.) 

Sometimes I wanted to make a fun project, or share a recipe I enjoyed (but feared that it would be a total waste of time and effort because it might not relate directly to living better.) 

And I really wanted to do all of that WITHOUT a "And you can do it, too!" tone to all of it.

I'd love to be a pro at blogging, but trying to sell something - anything (an idea, a product, a method) - to a reader drains me like nothing else does. 

Writing has always been the way I process life. I love to blog because doing so helps me see a moment for what it is, and to burrow it deep into my memory. It makes my life feel bigger. It helps me keep the steady stream of thoughts in my head organized. I wanted to just put some words and pictures together and say forget it to niche and voice and sales and social media.

So that's what I'm doing.

I decided to do two things. The first is to throw my efforts way back to my engagement when I stated a family blog to keep our family and friends up to date on our lives while we were living far away. I kept that up through most of my oldest son's first year before I ditched it. I recently decided to give up scrapbooking as one of my hobbies, so I decided that reviving an old family blog would be the way to get that fix as well as update my family and satisfy the blogging bug.

The other thing is that Enrychment is going to undergo a change. I'm not exactly sure what or how, but I know that I want to drop the teacher voice from here. I feel strongly that at this point in my life, and on this platform, my voice isn't meant to lead or instruct, but simply to share. It's making me twitch knowing that I have so much on this blog that I'm just not comfortable with, but it will take me some time to fix it all. I hope to just make this a place to share my own life improvement - in my own way, whatever that means to me, and not for the purpose of anyone else joining me.

So...that is why 31 days stalled after 3. That is why I haven't been consistent since early August. That's where I've been. And at least for now, how things will stay.

And if you are interested, HERE is my family blog. Only love over there - pinky promise?


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