Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dear 20-Something Lifestyle Bloggers

I've fallen horribly behind on my blogroll reading since moving back to DC, so while I was on the train to New York last weekend I decided to take advantage of Amtrak's free wi-fi to get up to speed on your adventures.  Now that I'm current, I have to say I'm a little frustrated and disappointed by how often some of the same themes have appeared in the blogs I read, and so I decided to write an open letter to my blogging community.  This might lose me a few friends, but I hope that what I have to say might speak to some you.


Dear 20-something lifestyle bloggers,

Let me start with this: you are amazing.  You inspire me with your creativity and your passion and your drive.  Every time I read one of your blogs, I am blown away by the power of what you have already accomplished as well as the promise of what you will achieve as you continue on your adventures.  You, over there, with a couple months of posts and a few dozen followers under your belt, and you, over there, with advanced skills and a devoted readership of hundreds - you're both incredible, and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to get to know you through your blogs.

One of the things that I love about you is that you are constantly challenging yourself.  Especially when so many people seem to be satisfied with the bare minimum, it is heartening to connect with women who set off to make their dreams come true.  I am so proud of every step you take towards that horizon, and so honored that I am able to be a part of your journey.

Part of the reason you're able to achieve so much is because your dream is mighty.  But let's not kid ourselves: it's also because you're a perfectionist and/or you're afraid of failure.  Over the past few months, as the Things I'm Afraid To Tell You movement has gathered steam, I've read along as women have admitted to these two "weaknesses" and I've been disappointed each time either has been mentioned as a fault to be hidden.  Do you know what?  I don't think either of them is something to be ashamed of.  I think that our society would be much more advanced if more people set higher standards for themselves and others.

That being said, I also think that comparing yourself to your peers only gets you so far.  One of the most popular graphics on the Things I'm Afraid To Tell You posts says "comparison is the thief of joy."  I could not agree more - and, from what you've written, it seems like you're on the same page.  The thing is, though, I sometimes feel like you're just paying lip service to the sentiment.  As they say in twelve-step programs: recognizing the problem is only the first step to fixing it.  After that, you have to actually do something about it.

That's why I get so frustrated when you declare that you're going to stop comparing yourselves to others and then, the following week, bemoan your relative lack of progress in achieving your dreams.  Yes, there are bloggers out there with so many comments on every post that they can't possibly all be answered.  Yes, there are designers carrying portfolios that are thick with publicly acclaimed projects.  Yes, there are entrepreneurs whose gambles have paid off and are now small business owners.  These women exist, and there's nothing wrong with using them as examples of success - as long as you do so productively.

They found ways that worked for them in a timeframe that worked for them.  I have a challenge for you: take your perfectionism and your fear of failure, and forge your own path in your own time.  If you're going to compare yourself to women who have made it, whatever it is, remember to keep things in perspective; success is always comparative, but you have to keep your view of it proportionate to where you have come from and where you want to go or you will go crazy.

I can't wait to see where your dreams take you, ladies.  But when you look in the mirror, make sure you see yourself - who you are, who you've been, and who you want to be.  All those other women can be there in the reflection, too, as long as they're standing behind you. Just don't slow yourself down by getting in your own way.

With all the love and optimism in my heart,


  1. I'm so proud of you for posting this. I totally 100% agree with you and you are awesome!

  2. 'But when you look in the mirror, make sure you see yourself - who you are, who you've been, and who you want to be. All those other women can be there in the reflection, too, as long as they're standing behind you.'

    i absolutely adore this. one of my main blogging goals is to completely steer clear of comparison. i have been there, & it yields nothing but negativity. i challenge myself every day to enjoy my favorite blogs while keeping perspective & remembering to love what i put out into the internet world as well.

    thank you for this inspiring post - you've delivered a poignant message!

    - lauren

  3. Hi! Well written, as usual, and I really like the sentiment at the end!
    I admit that I only follow 1 or 2 20-something bloggers who I don't know in my real life. Finding your way in your 20s can be pretty tough because we're all grown up but still growing. (Granted, I'm 32 and still working it out.)

  4. I came across your blog pretty randomly. I might have been googling london? :) I'm planning on going to grad school there....applying in the fall and have been freaking out! Going for the first time in August/Septemberish... anyways - - Your story about what happened in france and how it all began, really hit close to home and made me laugh.
    thanks for all of this. :)

  5. As an older woman who had to come to terms with the idea of blogging and putting so much of yourself 'out there' I am very interetsed to read this piece by you. I often worry that by sharing so much, leaving oneself open to comparison, praise and criticism some people are losing their own identity. And mystery. The blogs are often beautiful, poetic, inspirational - but alike. Well said!

  6. This was so well written and something more people need to read!! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts :) xoxo! eliza

  7. I'm glad today's post bumped me back to this letter! With big, exciting dreams and goals, it's tempting to want everything to happen FAST--especially when you see people who seem to have made it all happen so flawlessly. It's a lot harder to sit comfortably with real perspective, which includes respect for their hard work, acceptance that some people do get lucky, and most of all, enthusiasm to keep chugging along until you get to YOUR big goal or dream...which isn't the same as someone else's.

    P.S. Apologies if the punctuation in this comment drives you crazy. Sometimes at the end of a long day I struggle to be anywhere near articulate, and dashes and ellipses are the easy way out!


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