I have to admit that I’m a bit in awe of this week’s guest blogger. Katherine Stone founded Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression & other mental illnesses related to pregnancy & childbirth. She been named to all sorts of “best blog” lists and is a speaker at blog conferences. AND she’s a total sweetheart. Please welcome her here to Things I Can’t Say.
I’m not really known for not saying things. I’m kind of a loudmouth, though hopefully not in one of those annoying “gosh I can’t stand her” kind of ways.
I’m pretty open about myself only because my chief goal at my blog, Postpartum Progress, is eliminating stigma and creating a safe place for women with postpartum depression and anxiety, and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. If you’re eliminating stigma, you have to talk publicly about your mental health problems, and I have to say that it doesn’t bother me.
I’m grateful to Shell, though, for asking me to share her space to talk about things I don’t have the chance to normally. Today I want to talk about blogging.
I started my blog eight years ago in 2004, back in the dinosaur ages of blogging. It was easier back then. There was no Twitter. No Pinterest. IPads had not yet been invented. We didn’t have to integrate everything we wrote with everything else, like Facebook and Google+. And StumbleUpon. And whatever else these technology whippersnappers come up with in the next five minutes, and again five minutes after that. Social media has become an industry, as everything innovative eventually does I suppose.
What’s great about that is the fact that social media has allowed so many people to find and use their voices. They can affect change. They can find people who understand. They can help others. They can show the world how funny or helpful or insightful they are, and they don’t need permission from anyone else to do it. That makes me happy. I know many women who started out with a single blog post, just like the rest of us, and now they have companies and nonprofits and published books and theater shows and TV appearances and their own TV shows. They MADE their space in the world.
The rest of social media is … well … less great.
I’ve been a full-time volunteer blogger for seven of my eight years blogging. My goal was never to make money, but to help people. That made it pretty easy, actually, to worry about nothing other than putting out useful stories about PPD. Just putting ideas into that little square Typepad box, and eventually WordPress box, and hitting publish. So easy.
Last year, though, I started a noprofit so I could expand my ability to raise awareness about postpartum depression. This means I have to raise money, and lots of it. So now, for the first time, I have a sponsor. (Thank you, Jenny’s Light.) I have advertising. (Thank you, BlogHer Publishing Network). I’m giving speeches for a fee. 100% of the proceeds of the sponsorship, the blog advertising and the speaking fees go to my nonprofit, and I’m proud I can do that. I also started doing work to contribute money to my family for the first time in a long time, by writing for Babble and for the UN Foundation.
I’m grateful for the opportunities – SO grateful – but I’m also stressed out. As are many of you. I see so many bloggers buried under an avalanche of email and deadlines and worries about traffic and how much time they’re taking away from their families and whether they can afford to go to that blogging conference and how many ads they should put in their sidebar and whether they should ask people to vote for them one more time for that blogging award. I’m right with them.
Do you feel like that? It doesn’t matter what size blog you have or how long you’ve been doing it … it feels to me like we’re all in the same boat. It’s so exciting to have people recognize your work and invite you to participate in things. It’s thrilling to have someone offer to pay you. And yet sometimes you wonder if the pressure is worth it. You wonder whether you’ve lost the purity and beauty of what you started in the first place.
I know I now have more choices, more responsibility and more opportunities to blow it. All this is helping me learn to accept myself more. To be okay with the impossibility of perfection. To know that I have helped people and continue to help people and have met and continue to meet my initial objective when I started Postpartum Progress. To know that some people won’t be okay with every choice I make, and that I can’t make everyone happy. I’m hoping that people will see I’m trying my best, and that my intentions are good. I’ve opted out of voting contests forever. I haven’t looked at Klout in at least six months, and never will again. I spend almost zero time looking at Google Analytics. I’m doing my best to meet all my deadlines. My goal is to become an even fuller version of me and to do interesting things, and I want to support other women on the net attempting the same.
Right now I’m in a space in my life where I’m trying to figure it all out. I don’t think anyone can have it all. I know I can’t. Every day of my life is a series of trades. I have a limited number of hours and I can only do some of what is on the pile. Parenting. Writing. Emailing. Laundry. Taking a shower. Pitching. Returning calls. Tweeting. Cleaning up cat puke. I’m thinking many of you may be in the exact same space.
I’m cheering for all of us.
We’ll figure it out.
Oh wow, can I relate! Can you? Please leave Katherine some comment love here. Also be sure to check out Postpartum Progess as well as Katherine’s Babble posts. You can find her on twitter and facebook as well.