Working in the social media space and online community has its ups and it, most definitely, has it downs. After you jump through the hurdles of getting your grounding and creating your presence, a new hurdle pops up.
Trolls. Bullies. People that want to tear you down.
And I’m not talking about the anonymous ones. The faceless people hiding behind their computer screens.
I’m talking about the ones that are your colleagues and “friends.” The same people that give you a thumbs up on your posts are the same people that behind the scenes are hoping that you fail. That you fall flat on your face.
Blogging used to be about community and building each other up. But we all know what happens when you throw a bunch of women in a room. It’s not pretty. And I will be the first to admit that I have gotten caught up in the drama.
But that doesn’t make it right.
At the end of the day, there is enough space for everyone in this industry. It doesn’t have to be a blood bath. It doesn’t have to be war.
It doesn’t have to be anything.
I have seen time and again, friends afraid to ask their peers questions, whether out of fear it would be taken the wrong way, someone would think they are poaching a client, or that they wouldn’t get a response at all. People are still guarded in this industry.
But, perhaps, they are guarded for the wrong reasons.
Why are you so afraid someone is going to take something from you? Is it because this industry is still in it’s Wild West stage? That there aren’t any clear cut rules or boundaries.
Or is this just how people are?
This isn’t just a blogging problem. This can be found in almost any industry. What sets it apart in the blogging world is the promise of a new frontier. A land where everyone is about holding each other up, except when they’re not. Is it a utopian land that could never exisit? Possibly. But it sure is nice to dream, isn’t it?
I have seen first hand common courtesy go right out the window. Professionalism? What’s that? We work so hard for people to see what we are doing as a “real” job. To take us seriously. All while in the background, there’s a neverending race going on.
The race for the top is about who you can use and step on to get there. Not, who you can extend a hand to to help you climb that quote unquote ladder. The race is peppered with back handed compliments, fake happiness, and, all too often, back-stabbing.
But there’s always going to be someone who thinks you’re too young or too old. Have too many kids or don’t have enough. Too pretty or too ugly. Don’t have enough experience or are overly qualified. Too thin or too fat. You can’t make everyone happy. It’s just not possible.
When you are busy worrying about these things, you get derailed. You get off track. You get caught up in the drama and find yourself playing high school games. You struggle with trying to be who you think people want you to be rather than who you think you should be. You find yourself unhappy. The exact opposite of what you were going for when you started this new venture.
There are many things that drive this. The need to be successful. The fear of missing out. Ultra-competitiveness. Insecurities. Wanting to fit in. Some people are simply a bad egg. You’re never gonna change their way of thinking. Don’t even try.
Now, I am not saying everyone is bad. There are some really great communities out there. People who really do want to help others. That truly are about building people up. Sadly, those bad eggs cloud that waters and make navigating this space murky. It makes people skeptical. These supportive communities you hear about always seem too good to be true.
You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
You have to get to the point where you will no longer sit and wait for the other shoe to drop. You have to grab the other shoe, place your feet firmly on the ground, pick your head up, and move forward.
It won’t be easy. There will always be an internal and, sometimes, external struggle. It won’t feel good all the time. But you have to continue to move forward no matter how hard it feels. You have to get back on the path that will lead you to who you are and who you want to be.
You may be moving forward alone.
Or, if you are lucky, you find yourself moving forward with a tribe who are all headed in the same direction. For the same goal. For the right reasons.
In the cloudy waters, the good people will rise to the surface. You just have to find them. They are looking for you.
And when you do, don’t look back.
And keep moving forward.