We'll Always Be Beginners
I'm going to assume that like me, most of you reading this are members of the beautiful #TheGirlGang created by Jemma (aka Dorkface). If you are, you'll probably have read her April newsletter. I'm mentioning this because something fairly insignificant at the very end of the newsletter made me stop for a second, and do a double take. You see, it summed up the growing worry I've been having for the past few months or so. Jemma defined a newbie blogger as someone who'd 'been blogging less than a year.'
I've been blogging, albeit on and off, since I was eleven years old. For the past six years I've been posting my writing online, and for a year and a bit now I've been tending to this little blog. I could claim to be a veteran of sorts, but I'm not.
I'm not, because I still feel like a complete beginner. Six years in and I still don't have a clue what I'm doing. I've watched newbie bloggers grow and become influencers, I've watched people create communities, start movements, celebrate their first year of blogging and hitting over 1k followers all at once. Then I look at where I am, with my 300 odd followers and inability to get it right on twitter and I wonder, when is this feeling going to pass? When will I stop feeling like I'm new at this?
And then there are weeks when I arrive at such thoughts when, for example, I am reading the advice posts of people who've been blogging for a month or so, or deleting out one of my posts in frustration to start on it a 3rd time, or staring at the number of unpublished drafts that that have been sitting there for months. It's in those moments when I realise that there are a whole lot of different things that make a person not-a-beginner anymore. It’s a pretty vague category and one that sort of exists on a continuum more than anything else. I mean, really, have you ever heard anyone say, “I just learned the last blogging thing I didn’t know. Now I know how to do everything that makes a successful blogger and I am totally 100% done now since there will never be anything new to learn. I’ll go try this novel thing instead.” Of course you haven't.
It's in those moments that I reassure myself that we are beginners in that we are constantly learning. In that sense, we are all newbies. Yet the mythology surrounding the ever-changing blogosphere for the most part, is as true as it is compelling. 20-somethings live sitcom-esque lives. Dating is a bitch. Neurosis is common and endearing. Whatever we do, brands take notice. Millennials who are taking the world by storm and looking incredible while they do it.
Ask any blogger and they will offer up their own version of when you cross the threshold from newbie to a true blogger. Some will say it’s the first time a brand contacts you and you say nah, it's not for me and shrug your shoulders indifferently, others claim it’s when you know the ‘unsaid’ rules of blogosphere such as never leaving a 'love this, check out my blog here' comment. Whether graduating to a blogger means hitting a certain amount of followers, writing advice posts or hosting your first twitter chat, I'm starting to wonder if maybe we are all just eternal beginners and just some people are doing it better than me.
Maybe it's my age, I think. I'm only 17, and the bloggers I interact with and read most often are successful 20-somethings with university degrees or exciting startups who are being generally successful in whatever they put their mind too and I think, maybe in a few years I'll not be a beginner anymore. Because, I've done it all. I've followed all the advice posts and done all the things I should if I want to be 'successful'. Some it has worked. I have some beautiful readers and I love the twitter blogging banter like nothing else in the world. But I still feel like a newbie.
I've taken part in twitter chats. hit a million views and stood at the front of blogging protests and held virtual placards and linked arms with women I will never know. I've retweeted other peoples links and built up a beautiful community and have a blogging whatsapp squad that I speak to daily as a result. And yet I do not feel worthy. I do not feel good enough for entrance into the Blogging Community. This Association of Bloggers, in my mind, sit around the Blogging Round Table with a large stack of blogger applicants, idly chatting and casting Yea or Nay votes upon young, eager Zoella wannabes. My application falls lightly to the ground, trampled and forgotten. It is accidentally recycled by the janitor, never to be seen again.
I write this, even though I feel dumb, because I have felt a desperation for community, for belonging, for validation. Even writing this, I don’t feel empowered, I feel a double nervousness about pressing publish and I don't feel like a blogger. So I have turned to the internet. And if you’re feeling this way, too, I hear you.
photo credit: paolo raeli