This post is written in partnership with Olay. I’m so grateful for brands like Olay that help support me in creating this content.
“Wait…so you take pictures of your outfits in the mirror and then post them the Internet?”
That was not an uncommon question in the early days of blogging. Well, that’s how it all began. Nearly ten years ago, I could have never imagined I’d grow my daily outfits and beauty blog into the small business it is today.
Building a business takes time, dedication, consistency and grit, and sharing your life online comes with as many benefits as it does challenges. Being a small business owner in the online space, especially in an industry that until more recently was relatively unknown or unacknowledged, is a path I never expected to be on.
In nearly a decade of sharing my outfits, favorite beauty products, home decor and personal stories in this online space of mine, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Blogging has taught me some lessons that have deeply affected me, and even the way I parent.
Today I’m sharing five lessons I’ve learned about myself through blogging and what they’ve taught me about overcoming challenges, facing adversity and kindness. These lessons can be applied to many jobs and life circumstances – I hope you enjoy this post!
Stop caring what people think & focus on your why
Why did I start my blog? Because I was living in a new city, didn’t know a ton of people other than my (now) husband, loved fashion, beauty and writing and had a desire to connect with other women. Though my blog is now a business, my why has never changed, my why just has the added benefit of also being a way to support our family.
Sometimes in blogging you’ll get feedback that is mean-spirited or comments that are just plain awful. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent in the past editing posts because I was worried about what people would think or say. As I got further and further into blogging, anonymous criticism grew rampant and I allowed it to control what I wrote. I was always anticipating the next dig or how my words would be twisted and looking back, it was very apparent in my writing that I was over-explaining, each sentence more defensive than the last.
More than two years ago, I completely stopped reading and blocked out all mean-spirited criticism and have allowed myself to simply write the way I want to. I feel happier and my content has never been better, and I know it’s because I’m not walking on eggshells in my own space anymore. Even though I work with brands more often now and run my blog as a business, my why drives me more than ever and that brings me the same level of joy as the day I published my first post.
Let criticism drive you, not drain you
It can feel really daunting to deal with the influx of opinions and judgments we face from others in our lives, as well as perfect strangers. I used to let other people’s comments and opinions eat away at me and fuel my anxiety, but learning to shut this noise out is not only necessary, but it’s also one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
No one would accomplish their goals if they let the naysayers determine their destiny. Something I’m really proud of is that I’ve continued to grow and rise above the negativity the online world can bring by channeling my energy into this space and continuing to write and publish content I love.
It’s not easy and it takes time to use criticism as a motivator when it’s intended to be a downer. But always remember, nothing is more satisfying than growing something you created from the ground up and watching it blossom into something you never thought possible. Don’t let anyone take that away from you with their words.
Focus on those who are supporting you
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of complaining and focusing on the negative (we’re all guilty of this at times). A lesson that took me a long time to learn is that my energy is better spent and I’m better served as a human being, by focusing on the people who are HERE FOR IT. The people who have followed along since I hit publish on my first post, started a new job, and gave birth to each of my children. The people I DM with on a regular basis on Instagram. The people who take time to watch my stories, leave a comment or send me an email about a blog post I wrote.
Imagine how much more we could all thrive if we spent more time focusing on the people in our lives that bring us happiness, help us accomplish our goals and support us wholeheartedly? You wouldn’t invest your money into a plummeting stock, don’t invest your time even thinking about people who will never bring any kind of positivity or meaning to your life.
Be authentic & overcome the fear of vulnerability
Putting yourself out there is hard. The decision to share some of your innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences with a wide audience can feel scary. What I’ve learned is this level of authenticity and vulnerability is what builds trust and genuine connection. I’ll never forget the emails I’ve received from readers saying my blog post about getting an annual skin check detected an early melanoma they were able to have removed. I’ll never forget the outpouring of support when I shared my story about have placenta accreta twice. I’ll always be moved by the abundance of messages I received when I shared my journey with postpartum anxiety and growing up with a toxic parent.
Being vulnerable is difficult, especially so when you’re doing it so publicly. But I’ve never had any regrets about what I’ve shared because experiences shape who you are and without authenticity, there cannot be connection. Don’t let fear stop you from being vulnerable – to be vulnerable is to be relatable.
Kindness is paramount
The most important lesson blogging has taught me is that kindness is paramount and that something hugely important to me as a parent is to make lessons about kindness a constant in my children’s lives.
The blogging world has shown me that in today’s digital and social media age, people can say anything they want, anonymously, with no repercussions for their words. I want to raise my children in such a way they know their words matter and that what they say and how they view and treat others carries with it a moral responsibility.
Our children are watching. I remind myself of this constantly and it’s what motivates me to be better. Our children carefully watch and mimic our behaviors and actions. Having experienced being shamed, judged and bullied as both a child and adult, teaching my children kindness is of utmost importance because I want them to understand how people deserve to be treated. It starts in the home and it starts with being thoughtful about our day-to-day interactions with others. When I think about this, I think about:
Taking the time to greet, smile at and interact with cashiers as you’re checking out at the store. Thanking the person who bags your groceries or opens a door for you.
Keeping your cool during a bad customer service experience instead of exploding at the store employee.
Avoiding making disparaging remarks about others or ourselves– a child’s inner voice will start modeling that too.
Teaching our children the importance of taking responsibility for their actions and apologizing when they’ve hurt someone.
Teaching our children about differences, and why they’re so wonderful.
Encouraging your children to speak nicely about themselves – what are they proud of? What was something kind they did for someone else today? Confident children who see their value and worth are less likely to be unkind to others.
Teaching our children to forgive others and have compassion for people in different circumstances than their own.
There is much more to add to this list and I’d love to hear some ideas from you – what are ways we can teach our children kindness? Knowing that everyone will at some point in their lives face adversity or unkindness, how can we use our own experiences to help our children recognize that adversity can make them stronger and more motivated? How can we teach them to be kind, even when facing challenges?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
* all photos in this post are by Olive Gray Photography.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Olay. The opinions and text are all mine.