It’s been just a month since I really started working on this blog, and in even that short time frame, I’ve already learned a few things. Like most learning curves, I think that this one can be applied to life in general, and so I wanted to share.
- Nothing Is Innocuous – You might think that posting pictures of puppies could do nothing but improve the world. You’d be wrong. Soon, people will want to know if they’re puppy-mill puppies (which is totally inhumane). They’ll worry that you aren’t posting pictures of cats (“I thought you were cat person! Is this an identity crisis?!”). They’ll be frustrated that once again, non-fluffy animals are underrepresented (ah, such is the injustice of the world). And while I haven’t actually posted any pictures of puppies to cause such a riot, you understand my point. No matter what you write, or what you do, there will be detractors. The important thing is to be able to separate the genuine critics from the plain old haters. Constructive criticism is extremely valuable, and the people who think differently than you do, and are willing to engage in a respectful debate, are the people with whom you should surround yourself. But, even if you’re only posting about puppies, there will always be a handful of people who will try to tear you apart. So, on the internet and in life, don’t say something you can’t back up with facts, and don’t be afraid to move on when someone is simply unreasonable.
- Timing Is Everything – I know this is a “duh!” observation for most of you, but it’s so true that it seems worth repeating. If you want someone to read your blog post, don’t share it on a Saturday night. Wait until Wednesday evening when everyone’s recovering from a couple of days of real-life responsibilities. If you have a current event or hot topic that you want to discuss, strike while the iron is hot! (But don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed. You’ll wind up on the wrong end of point #1). Life, I think, is similar. Learn how to read a moment: when to go all-in and when to hold back; when to have a difficult conversation and when to wait for a more receptive mood.
- People Love Food – The internet is obsessed with food photos. Throw together some restaurant recommendations and a quick snap of your sushi burrito and you’ve hit blogging gold. While you can brush this off as the most basic of human needs (i.e. everyone gets hungry and everyone has to eat), I think it’s more than that. When done properly, food is art, community, and nutrition all rolled into one. In a world so overloaded with drive-through dining and relationships, people crave family dinners and sit-down discussions. Be the kind of person who makes time for those moments, and who recognizes their value, and you’ll never dine alone.
- Be Funny & Be Genuine – Want to make friends? Gain followers? Be a smashing success at a cocktail party? Or better yet, talk about an uncomfortable or controversial topic and have people actually listen to what you have to say? Your best bet is to make them laugh while you’re making them think. Humor is disarming. It says, “I don’t take myself too seriously, and neither should you.” It allows us to charm our way past the front door and into the living room, and then sit down to have a serious chat. If you can combine wit with wisdom, you’ve found the perfect formula, and if you can know when it’s time to keep the quips in check and bare your soul, people will move past their initial interest and into full-blown respect . . . which is worth all the followers in the world.
- You Have A Voice – Perhaps the most surprising and important thing I’ve discovered over these past few weeks is that more people are listening to you than you realize. I think one of our biggest fears as humans is that we’ll wind up unheard and unremembered. I also think this is one of the few fears we can truly render obsolete. If you have something meaningful to say, and you take the time to try and say it properly, people will pay attention. This past month I’ve had all kinds of encouragement from people whom I never expected to know that I even had a blog, let alone read it. People I’ve only just met, acquaintances that I fell out of touch with years ago, and total strangers on the internet have all piped up in some capacity to tell me that this isn’t a complete waste of my time. So if you feel the need to speak out about something, please don’t hold yourself back because of an unfounded belief that no one will care. Choose your words carefully, and I promise that people will listen to you. I firmly believe that there are more like-minded people out there than we realize, and at the end of the day, most of us agree on the things that really, truly, matter. We need to stop waiting for someone else to work up the nerve to say what we’re all thinking, and we need to start initiating those conversations ourselves. Use your voice. It’s powerful.
*Main image via Shutterstock