I have blogger burnout.
I don't know how it happened or when it happened, but it happened. And yes, it's incredibly embarrassing to be at the helm of a wildly successful bloggers' conference, but to not have the self-motivating wherewithal or the gusto to actually write a blog post myself.
Since my sophomore year of college, I have maintained a web journal of sorts. It started when I got unceremoniously dumped by my then boyfriend, and I unleashed a comical ranting of self-pity while licking my newly single wounds. I was unsuccessful in my ploy to guilt the ex-boyfriend into groveling for a reconciliation thanks to lampooning him online, but I was, however, successful in cultivating a regular readership... in addition to alienating any every male on my college campus from dating me. People thought I was funny? People wanted more? Oh, my. So, yes, in the computer lab of a Christian college in the midwest, a blogging monster was created!
My blog transitioned from the chronicles of a Christian single female into a place where I wrote about my mundane jobs: first as a bank teller, then as a make-up counter girl at a mall, and then as a local actress. And then I rebranded and started Adored Austin.
Meant to be... well... pretty much what Keep Austin Stylish is, I intended to do street style photography, write about local fashion events, and feature my favorite shops and designers. At the time, there wasn't much going on fashion-wise in Austin, so I did outfit posts and silly videos as filler. Then as soon as I had some shout-outs from a few nationally known bloggers, designers, local shops, and print publications, and after I started working with advertisers I realized... yikes. I'm not really into fashion. Like, at all.
I like blogging and I like shopping. I like being funny and I like writing. In the beginning this was enough. I was so jazzed to be doing what I was doing that in my first few months of Adored Austin, I averaged 15 posts per week!
Then somewhere along the way, the landscape of blogging changed. My blogging peers were inking deals with big brands, their photos were beginning to look like they were straight from the pages of Martha Stewart Living, and it wasn't enough to be a quirky writer with a penchant for weird clothes and animal jewelry.
I found myself setting up "fauxtoshoots"... elaborate photoshoots where I made my house look immaculate (just within the camera frame, though!), where I made sure my children and I were impeccably dressed, and I tried to paint a picture that my life and my house were always ready to welcome a photo opportunity.
Pinterest made me feel like a failure as a wife and a mother. I didn't have time to even pin anything let alone to make anything from the pins I hastily pinned.
I started fretting that my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram audience wasn't large enough.
I stopped reading other blogs because I just couldn't stop comparing myself. "Look at that cake! How did she have time to bake a cake and homeschool her kids? I haven't even showered today!"
With the 60+ hours a week I spent planning TxSC starting in mid-April, I quietly decided that it was okay to take the summer off from Adored Austin. I had hoped that TxSC would put some wind in my sails, and that I'd be revved up and ready to blog again, but after TxSC blew out of town, I was surprised that wasn't the case at all. If anything, TxSC made me realize that blogging and maintaining an audience and juggling advertisers is a lot of work, especially for someone who would never call this her profession. Adored Austin is, at most, a hobby for me. In the totem pole of my priorities, hobbies fall below family, church, friends, community, and household chores. In fact, hobbies are just a step up from video games and leisurely bike rides. And let me tell you, I haven't done either of those since Jude was born nearly three years ago.
Last weekend, I left my children overnight for the very first time, and I went to a weekend retreat with the ladies of my church... again, something I had never done before. I was surprised that in quite a few side conversations I got so many questions about my blog. "Why did you stop?" "When are you going to post again?" "Is everything okay?"
Rest assured: Everything is okay. The kids are great. Chris and I are great. My thyroid hasn't died on me yet, and even my Grandma seems to be doing well, despite all her health ailments. I'm not pregnant again (that I know of). I haven't been traveling extensively. And truthfully, I'm not insanely busy anymore.
I just needed some space to really figure out why I do Adored Austin. It flummoxed me that I could not come up with an answer.
I wasn't able to come up with a reason for why I stopped blogging until last weekend's retreat.
I hadn't been able to articulate my long and unexpected break until I really looked at blogging for what it had become to me. While talking it out with a new friend, I realized that Adored Austin had become a breeding ground for sin. Although it had started as a place where I could tout my love for my city, offer a service / events calendar, and have an outlet for my creativity, somehow that was no longer the driving force. Instead, it had become a place where envy, pride, dishonesty, and self-loathing had snuck in and made themselves at home. The misaligned importance that I had placed on writing a blog and being a known person in the blogging community turned me into a person who, oftentimes, I didn't like.
Quite frankly, I was sick of the rat race and I was embarrassed by what I had become: tired of always feeling that my photos weren't good enough, jealous that [whatever brand] hadn't asked me to participate in whatever campaign, and envious that people who I once saw as peers were becoming minor celebrities in the blogging world while I was still just a local blogger.
Long story short? I cannot let a blog be the folly for my own sin, and I wasn't comfortable perpetuating something that made me a worse version of myself... ironically by projecting the (fake)"ideal" version of myself.
In the week that I've been able to really look at all this and see it for what it is, I've been able to pinpoint what I do like about blogging and what I miss. My time off made me realize a few things:
1. I miss the process of writing in a public space. I miss blogging. When I write here, I tend to work on my offline projects more. My private journals are richer and my screenwriting projects get attention. Creativity begats more creativity.
2. I can't be all things. Adored Austin can't be A Beautiful Mess and Kendi Everyday, but I didn't start Adored Austin to emulate them (the fact is, I didn't know them at the time). So, why am I trying to emulate them now?
3. My family is my full-time job... not Adored Austin. When my family needs more time from me, I need to give them more time. No apologies.
4. I've been doing this since 2009, and if you count my previous blog, since 1999. I enjoy the community that blogging brings together, and I miss interacting with people in that context.
These are the redeeming qualities! These are the things I should always, always remember.
So Adored Austin is not dead. As many times as I've thought about it, I did not hit the "delete blog" button (I did, however, forget my Blogger password at one point!). However, I couldn't figure out how to do my first post after being gone four months.
I tried to write a really long "what I did over my summer vacation" post, but I couldn't make it be anything other than an Instagram dump, which seemed silly in light of what I've realized. Then I tried to write a short, lighthearted explanation of why I was gone, but that seemed insufficient for my long distance friends and long-time readers.
So... here you go. Y'all get it both today: A Neiman Marcus post, like I never even stopped blogging, and THIS-- a long explanation of everything I've been chewing on.
There will come a day when Adored Austin dies. I'm certain of that. But is that day now? No. Not yet. I just can't quit you. I can, however, quit allowing this blog to be a place where sin gets the best of me. I can prevent this blog from becoming a place that plays on my own insecurities.
Want to talk about this some more? Bring it on. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comments below.