Hi there everyone! Today’s discussion has been on my mind for about a week or so, but I wanted to take some time to organize my thoughts before I threw all the words at you.
In the past couple weeks, I’ve seen five bloggers I follow say they’re taking a hiatus, some of them indefinitely. They all had a few different reasons, but one of the things they all said was that blogging, combined with everything else in their lives, was stressing them out. The thing that got to me, though, was that, in the end, each of them apologized for leaving, saying they feel guilty for leaving their blogs.
Which begs the question: where does that pressure come from? How do bloggers get to the point where they feel guilty for taking care of themselves? And how do we try to minimize that?
If something is putting your mental health at risk, no matter how much you love it, you should never feel guilty for taking care of yourself. But you know us bloggers, always going the extra mile.
I’ve taken two hiatuses since starting my blog almost two years ago. The first time, I was only about 6 months into blogging. There was a lot of personal stuff going on and I just couldn’t keep up with my blog. Ryann the Reader was still fairly new, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking a month off.
But my second hiatus was a whole different story. There were definitely good reasons behind this hiatus, but I still felt so guilty. Mentally, I knew I needed to take care of myself, but I felt like I was letting people down by doing just that.
And that’s not the kind of pressure anyone should have to deal with. If your mental health is suffering, feeling like you’re disappointing people by taking care of that can be brutal to your already suffering mental state.
So how do we fix that?
First, I think we have to take a look at where that pressure comes from, because usually our followers are incredibly supportive of us taking care of ourselves!
I think it’s a three part issue:
Issue #1- We love blogging!
It may come as a shock, but bloggers tend to love blogging! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t go through all the effort of maintaining our blogs! And while the love of blogging can be a huge encouragement to make our blogs as amazing as possible, it can often make us feel like we have to be perfect, and lead us to some unhealthy emotions.
Our love of blogging can make us feel guilty if we need to take a break. First off, we’ve put so much time, energy, and sometimes money into our blogs, that to leave them is already upsetting. But then there’s the added bonus of guilt. If we really cared about our blogs, we’d be able to make time for them, even in the midst of our mess. If we really loved blogging, it wouldn’t cause us any mental distress. If we really loved blogging, we wouldn’t need to take a break at all.
It’s easy to be on the outside of that thought process, and say that of course that’s not true, but emotions are tricky bastards, and sometimes they’ll make you feel something, even when you know better. And dealing with that kind of guilt can be tough!
Issue #2- Our amazing followers!
I know I said that, for the most part, most followers are incredibly supportive of bloggers taking care of their mental health, and that’s true! But from the bloggers’ perspective, just the fact that you have followers can make you feel guilty for leaving your blog!
When you follow someone, you both basically sign a sort of social contract. You follow me with the understanding that I’m going to write content that
hopefully entertains or interests you. I follow other people for the same reason. I know that makes blogging sound horribly boring and official, but that’s the bottom line of what it means to follow a blog.
So when you need to take a hiatus, you can have the most caring, supportive followers in the world, and still feel guilty. You can feel like you’re breaking a contract, or you’re breaking your word. People followed me expecting some bookish fun, and I can’t follow though. Even when you know taking a hiatus is in your best interest, it can still feel like you’re letting people down.
Issue #3- Book reviews
This part applies to any blog that writes reviews, but when you’ve gotten a free book (or makeup sample or whatever it is), you know someone is expecting you to review it. They wouldn’t have given it to you for free otherwise! And if you feel you need to take a break from blogging, it can leave you feeling like you’re not holding up your end of a deal, even if you know it’s in your best interest to take a step back.
So now what?
“Great,” you might be thinking, “now we know where all this pressure comes from. But how do we deal with it?”
To be honest, I don’t know that we can. Emotions are tricky, and sometimes don’t listen to logic. I don’t think there’s any one way to really get over it. Nor do I think there’s any one way to prevent these sorts of feelings 100%. But I think there are some things we can do to cope with the pressure and guilt when they pop up.
#1- Encourage other bloggers who take a break
I think the first thing we can do is to encourage other bloggers when they need to take a break. This will remind them that their mental health is more important than their blog. Stuff like this is why the book blogging community is known to be so supportive.
But I think encouraging others also helps us. If I encourage others to take a break for their own health, I can look back on that moment when I feel like I need a break. Did I feel let down by that blogger? Was I disappointed? Or was I just glad they were taking care of themselves? Because my own followers will probably feel the same way. Being a supportive follower can remind us how supportive our own followers will be.
#2- Remind yourself why you started blogging.
For example, I started blogging because I wanted to talk with other bookworms about our favorite stories! And I’ve been able to do exactly that for almost two years.
So when I have to take a break from my blog, I can remind myself that, no matter how sad or guilty I may feel, I accomplished what I set out to do! I’ve had great conversations with people about books or bookish topics that I would never have had otherwise. I’ve discovered so many amazing books I would never have even heard of before. And I got to be a part of an amazing community of book lovers!
This point won’t make your sad or guilty hiatus feelings go away, but hopefully reminding yourself that all that blogging work was worth it, will lessen the sting and lift some of the book blogging pressure.
#3- Stay active on other social media
This one won’t make everyone feel better, but when I took my second hiatus, staying somewhat active on Book Twitter made it a little easier. I got to see what all my favorite authors and bloggers were up to, people could still get in touch with me if they wanted, and I still felt like I was part of the book blogging community, even if it felt a little bitter sweet.
So I guess this post turned out a little more organized than I had anticipated. I think that the pressure to be the perfect blogger is something we all deal with at some point in our time as bloggers, but it’s important to remember that we are part of an incredibly supportive community.
If we need to take some time for ourselves, that’s okay! If we want to talk about things that are still surrounded by stigma, go for it! And if we just need someone to talk to, there are plenty of people willing to support us! You don’t have to deal with any of the pressure alone.
Thanks for reading!
Have you ever felt a lot of pressure to be the perfect blogger? What are some things you think cause that pressure? Do you have any tips for dealing with it? Let me know in the comments below!