The trouble is…

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It’s a funny thing, this “living your life online.” This blogging about lifestyle (also know as life). This building an “Instagram brand.” This being a brand.

My mother never had to worry about this. I think about that whenever I have a chance to look through my baby book. These 50-odd photos of baby me. Sadly and blissfully all I have to know about what I looked like, what we did. It makes me both grateful for and disgusted by the literal thousands of photos and videos I have of the first year of Vivi’s life. At least 300 are perpetually available with a swipe of my phone.

I don’t talk a lot about how much what I do tires me. How much the internet and technology and the gratuitous, frivolity of it. One because I’m exhausted by over-earnest blogging. Funny, right? Because I also love it.

I love the catharsis of pouring out your heart, the lift in sadness and despair that comes from finding a tribe of people who do so much more than just “like” your honesty; they hold up mirror images of your pain and say, “I thought I was the only one.”

I also have a hard time whining because I recognize the privilege of complaining about the superficiality of what I do. Poor me, working from home on a flexible schedule so I am also able spend hours cuddling my sweet baby girl and dedicating so much time a week to my volunteer work. The internet, in all its obnoxious glory, lets me do that.

I struggle with the self-promotion. I think it’s a difficult thing for Christian, Midwestern, female people to do. It goes against the traits those types are usually bred to project.

So I try to soften the blow with self-deprecation, humor, and, often, bluster. But I’m still uncomfortable sometimes. Because I’m still acutely aware of every person in my life who hates me for being a blogger. Who hates me for every smiling Instagram photo, every snapshot of something pretty or Pinterest-worthy (which means…what, exactly? Didn’t we just call it “pretty” a handful of years ago?). Of every person who openly refuses to follow me or, even worse, follows but never likes, or, even worse, does none of the above but still looks at my public posts or watches every single Instagram story I post. Those people make me really sad, honestly. And my awareness of the people I do know about continually pokes a finger in another gaping insecurity: How many more are there out there that I don’t even know?

The internet is a big place, and hate is usually only a keystroke away.

This post has been buzzing around in my brain for a while, but it took me a while to find words that sounded right without sounding like I was complaining. I don’t know why I feel like I need to tell you that I’m in on it — I know the promoted posts, the self-promotion is annoying sometimes. I need you to know that I try to make them not that way.

And then I roll my eyes at myself because why do I care so much? I truly believe that, in life, you either attract or repel people. And I would rather repel someone by being who I really am than attract them by pretending to be something I’m not.

Often, I fantasize about stopping it all. You know that. I can’t really, though, because it is my job. It is my golden ticket to stay-at-home/work-at-home mom life, to full-time volunteer service. But I do sometimes imagine a life where I could do those things without doing these things. Because as much as I actually love blogging and DIY and style and cooking, the hate wears me down.

You, person who looks at my stuff and never likes, who mocks and says nasty things and seethes even though I’m not hurting you (or even thinking about you, often times). You wear me down.

But if I pretend to be the person you would be happy to see me be — self-loathing, bitter, failure — I would be attracting the wrong person with the wrong things.

Because there’s so. Much. Pressure. Guys. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to be imperfect. Pressure to be perfectly imperfect. To be raw, to be polished. To be funny, to be sincere. And to be all those things all the time. It helps to remind myself that probably all business owners feel this way. And, in so many ways, this is my business. Entrepreneurism is not for the thin-skinned, the faint of heart.

I started this blog because I wanted to be a writer, and I still cringe a bit at the word blogger. (I mean, could we have picked a word that didn’t sound like loose mix of swampland and mucous?) Today, I am a professional writer, so maybe I’m not doing everything wrong.

But I’m also a blogger, for better or worse.

And bloggers will always bother someone. Honestly, I spend a lot of my life trying not to bother anyone. I speak quieter to Vivi when we’re being silly in public, trying not to be THAT mom that needs everyone to see how great she’s doing. I’m hyper-aware of people on the sidewalk, dodging and hugging the wall to keep from jostling anyone, trying not to be THAT person who is so self-centered. My emails read like a textbook of “woman in meeting” speak, trying not to be THAT in-your-face jerk. Maybe it’s more honest to say that I spend a lot of my life trying not to be a cliché.

The thing is, I really don’t want to bother anyone. So, if this blog bothers you, if my internet presence bothers you, I implore you: Ignore me. Stop following, stop looking.

But if you like looking at my stuff, I welcome you with open arms, fist bumps, and a round of celebratory drinks.

Do other people feel like hate is this visceral, tactile thing? Sometimes I look at a person and feel it radiating off of them like steam. It oozes from nasty comments, sparks out of sharp-tongues. I’m immediately put off when I feel it; I retreat like a spooked animal, a knot in my gut and a rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins. Danger, these people seem to whisper.

Do you know what I think about every time I post anything? Those three people who I know don’t like me. I’m not exaggerating when I say “every time.” They are my last thought before hitting “publish” or “share.” The anxiety those three people give me is embarrassing for me to admit. It would be so nice to not have to deal with that anxiety.

I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’re one of those three people): So, why don’t you just quit then?

I totally get why you think that. Because I want to quit.  Often. But I can’t because of Vivi. I can’t teach her that we go as far in life as the people who hate us the most want us to go.


Instead, I want her to be brave. I want her to be kind. I want her to be the antidote to all that nastiness. And the only way I’m going to get her there is by trying to be those things myself.

So I’m going to try to focus on the people I actually like anyway. The people who love and support and get it and get me. Who like what I do, who like reading about the things I like talking about. And, you know what? I think that can be enough.

Whew! That was a lot of feelings. And, honestly, I don’t know if I’m making anything better by calling them out. I don’t even know if this all makes total sense — I wrote it over a series of emails to myself in the car. But I think I feel a little better. The aforementioned catharsis and all of that. The point is, if you feel this way too, you are not alone. And I think we can both be a little bit more of that kindness we want to see. To those of you who do and always have supported me and shown me so much love, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the greatest.

16 thoughts on “The trouble is…

  1. Justine,

    I didn’t want to not participate in this. This is one of those posts that’s going stick with me a while and work its way into something productive. Thank you so much for writing it and sharing it so perfectly.

  2. I love it all. I learn about the latest trends, styles, FYI, Vivi updates! Thank you for it all!

  3. So many people spend hours taking pictures and trying to find the perfect filter so they can cover up their miserable boring life.
    Youre a great girl with a great family and the perfect daughter. Enjoy it all. Enjoy pioneering and enjoy your daughter.
    If anyone has a problem with it then thats on them, they’re miserable fun-suckers. You should be able to do 8 posts a day and if someones truly your friend it wont bother them.
    Keep doing what you love!
    Im with ya on this one!!!!

  4. Love this! Love you! I think fear of what other people might say can make us second guess ourselves more than it should. I do this to myself all the time! 😦 Just keep being the awesome mommy, wife and friend you are. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

  5. Hi! I have been reading your blog regularly for a couple years. I would just like to let you know that I love your blog! In comparison to other blogs I have read, I like the balance you strike in what to share or not share about your life. You’re a great writer & I think you have a great sense of humor. I admire what you do & I think it’s awesome that you can use your creativity & talent in this way. Also, it sounds like you started pioneering? That’s so awesome!

    • Thank you! That really means a lot — I work very hard on striking that balance 🙂 And yes, I just started this month! I’m incredibly excited because it has been a goal for many years now. Thank you for reading!

  6. I am wondering why you thing people that view your content, but don’t comment are somehow mocking you. I found your writing via a friend of a friend. I do not like stuff, but I see your stories because Instagram makes me… I think it’s rude to assume all of us unlikers are mocking you. It’s actually rather hurtful to those that want to admire and follow blogs… Just saying followers don’t want to feel judged either

    • Hi Ashley! You’re right — I should have been more clear. I don’t feel that everyone who doesn’t comment is mocking me — far from it. I totally respect that everyone has their own life going on and might not have the chance to like/comment on everything. The people I’m referring to are very specific examples: They are people who are NOT following me, but go out of their way to look at my posts (on a daily basis). Honestly, I don’t know why they do it, but I can’t come up with a positive reason for doing it. The whole ordeal is strange to me because when I want to look at someone’s posts, I follow them. If I don’t, I don’t follow them. I only mentioned the IG stories because that platform lets you actually see who is looking at your posts regardless of interaction, so that is what made me aware of the whole situation.

      Either way, I appreciate your follow if you like looking at my stuff and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Really, the fact that you took the time to comment at all means that you are not the type of person I’m talking about. I hope that clarifies what I meant.

  7. I love your blog! It had never occurred to me to like your posts though, so sorry!! Keep up with whatever you want to write about – I will read it!

    • You are very sweet! And don’t worry, I was talking more about social stuff with the “liking.” Reading and enjoying is more than enough

  8. I love your blog! You always keep it real with funny, thoughtful posts. I too am a writer and semi-blogger and constantly feel all side-eye-y to things like “developing your brand” and “being authentic online.” I mean, I get it, and some of it is necessary, and other times… I agree that it feels overdone and almost too intentional. It’s a weird, fine line. Keep doing what you’re doing, however it suits you. The readers who are into your vibe and words will come along for the ride, and as for the others? Oh well. Let them hate. When I get sucked into the negative comments, I have to remind myself that “what other people think of me is none of my business.” The people that are looking at your stuff but never liking and (potentially) talking shit about you and what you write? It’s sad that they’re spending precious hours out of their life on such a thing. Whenever I have the ability to step back from nasty comments, pause, and observe, I usually am able to find the grace in that stance — which usually involves lots of distance and a bit of prayer for that person.

    P.S. Your daughter obviously has an incredible role model in you ❤ ❤ ❤ Mom-ing and writing are hard gigs, but you are doing both well!

  9. Justin,

    I don’t know you very well, however I can say you are a beautiful girl with a beautiful family. This was my first time reading your stuff and your a great writing. I felt compelled to respond because life should always be about what you love and who you love, nothing else matters. I read someone quoting Dr. Suess and its one of my favorites. Never ever allow negative people to dictate how you feel. Never allow them that much power! Vivi needs to see that her Mommy is amazing because she LOVES! Your a writer, correct? Your a Christian, correct? Your a Mom, a friend, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, and a niece. HATE is not in your vocabulary! I’m happy that you let out your feelings, now don’t look back. Focus on writing things that you love not wasting time on people who don’t matter! Most importantly don’t allow them to steal your joy by being anxious right before you press send! Many blessings to you! 😉

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