I can hardly believe it, but somehow this little creative space 'o mine just had its 3rd birthday. THREE YEARS! Yesterday, to be exact. My blog is no longer a baby…it's a walking, talking toddler, with a brand and goals and a voice all it's own. I don't usually celebrate blog birthdays, but I felt a strange nudge to acknowledge it this year. This particular blog birthday symbolizes more than just the birth of a blog, but also the end of a journey. Not the end of blogging (you can't get rid of me that easily), but the end of what compelled me to begin blogging in the first place...our life in Germany. I started writing just as our journey to Germany began…the orders, the movers, the long days of living in hotels and acclimating to our new host country. During year one, I'm pretty sure my mom, my friends, and a few select MilSpouse bloggers I somehow befriended were the only people who even read my blog. I wrote to keep everyone updated on our adventures, never worrying about grammar, punctuation, or using too many ill-placed exclamation points. Gosh, I loved exclamation points. I had no clue you could turn your blog into a business and that earning a little side hustle was a sought-after "thing." Ahhh, blogging was simpler then. No expectations, no comparisons, just sharing what was going on in my life as I was living it. That's how it starts for most of us, no? With intent only to write an online diary…naive to all the other avenues of blogging. And then one day, you wake up and want more. Or at least that's where I found myself at the end of year one.
In year two, I spent time changing my design, linking-up with every link-up I could find, and commenting on hundreds of blogs just to get my face out there. My real life amped up with travel, so I began carving a little niche out for myself in the travel blogger realm. Slowly but surely, I began to feel embraced in my new niche…and that's where my blogging fire really started burning. I yearned to be an integral part of the blogging community--that travel blogger everyone loved and couldn't live without, even if it meant I had to write or participate in things I wasn't so keen on doing. Around my 26th birthday (and the beginning of one of the hardest years of my life emotionally), I dove into the sponsorship world head first and pushed myself to write like everyone else. Be funny, be thoughtful, be relevant! I toyed around with different voices but continued to feel unsettled. I thought I needed a persona…anything to make me stand out, or rather, fit in. Even though inside I felt confused, my page views steadily grew and other bloggers bought ads on my blog. WHOO HOO! I was relevant! I was popular! I was IN DEMAND! GIMME GIMME GIMME! The numbers game was on and I was caught all up in it. No stat was ever high enough and my eyes became green with envy. The harsh realities of blogger comparison were slowly revealed to me and instead of marching to the beat of my own drum, I became a blogging robot and felt my mojo deflating. Although I was getting the exposure I wanted, I struggled finding the joy in blogging and spent dozens of nights crying about not being good enough. I just couldn't keep up. I was disgusted at myself and the way blog world was moving (and the way I wanted to conform to it), so I figured getting out while I was ahead would be a smart choice. On 3 separate occasions in year two, I almost closed up shop…but even that never felt right. Quitting was in my nature, but not in His divine plan.
Towards the end of year two, I parted the blogging fog over my heart. I decided the only way to make blogging work for me was to blog my way. There isn't a blogging "rule book" anyway, so why was I putting so much pressure on myself to write everyday…write a certain way…and focus so much on trivial things that I never fully enjoyed the space I was creating. Year three, I was going to rejuvenate my views on blogging (and my design because, well, it was time again). WHO CARES if I compose a post of "too many" photos or ramble on and on in circles instead of keeping things short and sweet? You don't like that my punctuation is too liberal or that my sentences run on? There's a little red "x" you can click, won't hurt my feelings any longer! Yeah, I make a little money from this space and I'm not ashamed to say that. Think I'm selling out and not "writing for me?" I'm sorry you view blogging in such a black and white way…if you need to leave, as Juan Pablo would say, "It's OK!" Not every blog is for every one. While it took some time for me to realize this, I've made it my blogging mantra. In year three, I rekindled my love for meaningful interactions, focused more on transparency, and began to write how I talk in real life, instead of how I thought blog world wanted me to write. I took a good, hard look at what parts of blogging I loved and clung to them, discarding all the bits (and bloggers) that no longer fit me or the space I wanted to nourish with realness and positivity. While the comparison monster still rages on occasion, I've found ways to contain him. If I need to step away, I don't feel apologetic about doing so. While I still offer sponsorships, I've found ways to make them fun and worthwhile for those who sponsor AND for myself. Even though I continue to look at my pageviews and enjoy growing my readership, I don't stress if the numbers are stagnant or the opportunities don't come. While I'm far from having it all figured out, in year three I found I'm a happier blogger staying true to myself, my way.
Truth be told, there are times I still fall prey to the blogger I was in year two, but those pits are much easier to crawl out of these days. In the start of year four, I'm motivated by so much more than the numbers and the accolades. I'm motivated by you guys. The emails, the comments, the tweets and sweet ways you let me know I'm doing alright. Over these last few years, I've marveled at how this space where I started chronicling our journey abroad has morphed and changed into such a visceral part of who I am and what I do. I've watched my perspective change, my photography evolve, my content grow, and my readership flourish…all the while finding solace in an activity so weird and so wacky, even I can't quite put my finger on its pulse. Even in my year of uncertainty, through all the mistakes made and growing pains, I've found myself peeking over the blogging horizon…finding my rhythm and honing in on the unique voice I've been searching for these last 3 years. Some days, it's hard to remember my life before blogging. Which makes me interested to see where this space will take me once our life stateside starts up again. It's funny, but yesterday, as I started thinking about writing this post, I realized my blog birthday falls on the same day as my late MeeMaw's birthday (cue goosebumps). She passed away just 4 months before this blog dream came to fruition in my life. I never talked about blogging with her, but maybe my blog birthday falling on her birthday isn't just a coincidence. I like to think she's watching over our family in various ways. Maybe this blog is MeeMaw's gift to me...keeping me busy and engaged while I'm so far away from my family and my career. Giving me something to work hard at and be passionate about. She was so into creating lasting memories and "remembering who you are," maybe she knew I needed this place to chronicle this particular chapter of my life. So I could look back someday and remember who I was and who I've grown to be throughout this amazing adventure. Whatever divine reason this space came to be, I'm thankful that it's here. I'm looking forward to nurturing it more and giving it room to move in whatever direction it may go in days to come.
Happy 3rd birthday, We Took the Road Less Traveled. Cheers to many, many more!
[In case you're fairly new around here or just never took a walk down my blog's memory lane, here's a healthy smattering of the posts I love and posts that have been popular throughout my 3 year blogging journey. And as always, thanks for reading!!]