Oh dear friends, although I have been here intermittently over the past month, I really have not been here for a while. How to explain my absence? How to explain my feeling out of sorts with the online party world? How to explain my feelings of my work is not good enough in comparison to those who would only show the world the perfect, over the top, expensive parties? Sigh.
I have been feeling quite discontent about the online party world and my role in it. Why does it seem like every other party I see looks the same? With the same set up, same props, same over the top design and over the top budget? The same professional photog shots? Because that is what I have been seeing for so, so long now. It’s as if there is this unspoken rule that if you aren’t doing parties “this” way, you won’t get noticed, you won’t get that feature on that site that everyone wants to be featured on because it gets you noticed and gets you the sales because it’s not set up this way: with an elaborate tablescape and a dessert table set up against a backdrop. And no, for the most part I have not been playing the game of the majority trying to get approval from the few. It’s too high school clique for me. And it’s just not who I am. But in the end, even though I am not joining the throngs, seeing it every day, it was still making me feel… not good enough. As if my designs aren’t good enough. My pictures aren’t good enough. It has made me feel bad about myself and my work. At times I’ve tried doing it the same way, tried doing things the way everyone was doing it because that must be what the people want right? But it has never felt right. It has never felt genuine. It was never me. Which is why it never worked out and never looked the same. It also made me really uncomfortable because it’s not how I celebrate.
I don’t create these elaborate tablescapes and dessert tables with 8 different types of treats when I throw a party. I really don’t want my children eating that many sweets and I think it is overkill for a celebration with less than 30 people. Yes, I love creating beautiful tablescapes and dessert tables for parties of a size that warrant that type of thing, but for every party? For every birthday party or Valentine’s Day party or St. Patrick’s Day party? Seriously? Really?
So I stopped looking. Stopped reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Stopped going to those blogs who seem to only showcase parties from the same party gals with the same look and feel. All of them with a much bigger budget than my own, who only seem to have professional photogs shoot their parties. Because I really don’t think that the parties, the designs, the budgets, the pictures, are realistic for the average mom looking for inspiration. Most moms I know and come into contact with don’t have a $1000.00 party budget and they can’t afford to hire a professional photographer to capture the day. So they become inspired by these parties and inspiration shoots, but are still at a loss as to how to put it together on their budget. I am adoring the wave of parties on a budget challenges that are popping up, but they are the exception, not the norm. I find I can’t keep up with the cost of trying to display my products in such a way either. I don’t make enough money to create these elaborate parties to showcase my designs. I can’t hire a professional photographer to take the pictures. It’s not in my budget either. There is just something overwhelmingly unrealistic about all of it. And it has been frustrating.
Then last week, I discovered I am not the only one who was feeling this way. I was not the only one who was feeling as if the design and lifestyle (party, in my case) blog world was not presenting a realistic picture of life. And I was happy to find that I was not alone. So I started reading some of the blog posts. And this one, this one really hit home:
“I actually read a very small number of blogs now because I got sick of feeling like what I have, or who I am, isn’t good enough, isn’t perfect enough. If you read someone’s blog and afterward feel bad about yourself, or that you’re not creative, or not beautiful, or not rich enough, or you don’t have enough blog fame or notoriety, then I beg you: Stop reading it. I hope I have never made any of you feel this way. If I have, please accept my sincere apologies.” Beth from Parsimonia Secondhand With Style
Thank you Beth, for taking the words right out of my mouth, for speaking my heart. I too have limited the blogs I now read regularly. And you know what? I am so much happier for it!
I have struggled with trying to fit into this ‘mold’ and I have struggled because I’m not a fit to size kinda girl. I cannot strive for “perfection” or I will go mad. I am more of the “no quilt is ever perfect” mindset. Don’t get me wrong, part of me loves the perfect, highly detailed, eye candy of big party productions, but only a part of me. After a short while, the fantasy gets very overwhelming and the inspiration quickly turns to de-motivation because why would I bother when I’m not creative enough, don’t have the budget, can’t find the goods locally, etc. But the bigger part of me wants the smaller, simpler celebrations that I have always loved. I have never been a follower of others or trends, so why in the world was I trying to do it now? For the sales? To make money? Goodness gracious, because that hasn’t been working out in my favor! Yes I like my products to look good, but at the expense of going in to debt? Not so much. At the expense of mis-representing what printed parties actually look like when printed? Goodness no. And yes, when you over-saturate the colour in your photo’s to make your designs pop, I do think you are mis-representing your products. When a red is so red it almost glows, the colour in that picture has been over-saturated and no one will be able to replicate that colour in real life.
So I stopped posting around here, away from you dear readers. Readers that I am so very grateful to have and am always amazed that you may even be reading anything I put here in this space. I stopped posting here because what could I really say but this truth. And how should I say it? Oh the ruminating I have done, the draft copies stored and deleted. But not all in vain!
This hiatus, it has reminded me of who I am. It’s so easy to get swept up in the ways of the online party world and forget who you are when you are faced with others successes, especially when those others are all very similar. I am excited for those who are making big things happen with their businesses, but I have to stop and remind myself that what I love and what I do is different. When I’m not looking at these images of expensive perfection, I am reminded of who I am. I am a crafter of handmade celebrations, not big budget productions. I actually prefer simple, original, celebrations around my dinner table. I craft and make most of our decorations, I don’t ask for donations for my child’s birthday party. I craft and make with a purpose, not just for the sake of putting something on my blog. I bake my cakes rather than buy them. I think most store purchased cakes are way to sweet and well, I don’t know what’s in them. When I bake my cakes, I know what’s in them and they’re not overly sweet. My girls now find the frosting on store bought cakes too sweet and don’t want to eat them. They want mine (insert HUGE mama smile here). And I want them to have those memories of a mama that lovingly created their birthday cakes and decorated their home in celebration of them. Because that’s who I am.
Thank you for giving me this time to ruminate on these thoughts. It has reminded me of what I need to do and where I need to go with this hobby project turned side business of mine. As much as I love designing printable parties and stationery, and I do love it so, it is not my heart or my true purpose and I am working my way back to that. I don’t know if I will be able to do both once I get there, but I am not going anywhere any time soon. I am just going back to my roots and love of simple, heartfelt celebrations and crafty goodness. I am going back to me.
Wow, if you’re still here and reading this, THANK YOU for sticking with me and reading all the way down here. Those really are all the things I’ve been afraid to tell you. and it really felt good to get them out, phew, terrifying but really good! I really don’t make money at this venture, not yet anyway, I do it because I love it and because it is so much fun when one isn’t comparing herself to others. And that’s really the lesson here isn’t it? Comparing yourself to others really is the thief of joy. It prevents you from seeing your greatness. We don’t have to do things the same way to get noticed or to find our audience. We should reveal and celebrate our differences and that way we will find our true audience. I may think something I see is tacky or over the top, but there is someone out there who loves it. And thank goodness for that! Because that means my people are out there too. And if something you’re reading is making you feel bad about yourself in any way, you can choose to stop reading it. So if you find you are comparing yourself to those things you are reading and seeing in blog land, I beg you to stop reading those blogs and giving your attention to those things that make you feel bad about yourself in any way. Stop and recognize your greatness and then give it to the world. The world wants to see your light. I want to see your light.
Have you ever felt this frustration? Go take a look at EZ’s post for a list of other bloggers highlighting the things they were afraid to tell you. It is an eye opener. You really are not alone.