I know you don’t hear much from me these days. In fact, that’s quite an understatement. And the thing is, I do have time to get the work done, I’m not overwhelmed by work, I’m actually having a comparatively tranquil phase with room for experimentation and ideas. It’s just the blogging side of it all that’s coming up short.
For many years, blogging was my absolute top priority. I wrote every day, or else I edited pictures and invested all the love I had. This discipline took me quite far in the blogging world, at some points to the very top, but it also taught me a simple truth: the internet is too fast-lived to yield any kind of sustainable success. With time I had to witness how fewer and fewer people, companies etc. were interested in blogs, and in a moment of tearful clarity I had to admit to myself that the effort no longer stood in healthy relation to the success. In the time I need to prepare a blog post I can publish several Instagram posts, stories, podcasts – all that while ending up with more private time for myself on my hand. Here’s another painful lesson I learned: some moments with friends or family are irretrievably lost when one does not choose to experience them.
I needed to free myself. It was the only way if I wanted to be happy. But free from what? The answer is: of the self-imposed rules that had regulated the course of my life.
Letting go was the most difficult part.
You know, blogging is the first thing I found myself to be good at. Before discovering this special medium for myself I was feeling pretty mediocre in life: I was an average student without hobbies or ambition. I didn’t consider myself particularly beautiful, talented or clever. All that gradually changed with the blog. This platform gave me the feeling – for the first time in my life – that I was standing out. Yes, it took me more than 20 years to feel special, and it took me a bit longer still to be proud of myself. But there was also a problem: the more I defined myself through this blog, the more I started to cling to it The fear that I’d slide back into mediocrity, the fear of feeling boring, of dropping into obscurity was just too big. So I increased my pace. Every day anew. Faster and faster. My private life played second fiddle in all this. I lived and breathed for my work, my blog, my status. Was I happy? Maybe. But if I take stock of the really happy moments in my life, few of them fall into this period of boundless hustle. I was content in my private life, but not what you could call extraordinarily happy. I was captive in my own prison.
I sacrificed my private life for what I took to be my calling, and phrases like “no, sorry, I can’t come, need to finish a post” were among the most worn in my standard repertoire. Until at some point people just stopped asking if I’d like to join them for dinner, for a birthday get-together, or wherever. They already knew my answer. I had arrived at a paradoxical situation. The more I felt I had arrived in the community, the lonelier I felt in the “real” world. I needed to rethink my priorities and break out of this prison I had ended up in if I wanted to be happy again. That, in turn, also meant I’d need to sacrifice a part of the identity I had clung to. I believe that when we speak of work-life balance we often forget that the perfect equilibrium between extraordinary private happiness and outstanding professional success does not exist. You can’t be all things to all people at all times. Sure, on channels like Instagram (especially there) it often looks like successful people tend to be blessed with happier private lives as well, but I have barely ever met anyone who actually struck a healthy balance in that respect. In the end, there are always sacrifices to be made.
The only equilibrium one can reach is that between sacrifice and benefit, the balance between pain and gain.
Let me give you an example: to this day I feel pangs of guilty conscience because I’m not posting on the blog frequently enough. It feels like I owe you, my readers, something. But this guilty conscience is far outweighed by the private happiness I have been blessed with for some time now, in the form of a new relationship and new hobbies. My ambition took me a long way in my professional life, but it ultimately did not point the way to happiness. Finding the right work-life balance, day by day, is like an inner conflict we are challenged to resolve over and over again. And we should not frame this conflict in purely negative terms either. I have found a much more conscious approach to using my time, which also means I experience it much more intensely. I work so much more efficiently than I used to. And when I take the time to live my private life, I do that much more consciously as well. I try to create real memories.
I have become so much better at distinguishing between the private and the professional spheres, and I know where to draw the lines. Indirectly, this is actually starting to benefit the blog again. I HAVE TO write much less than I used to, but I find that I WANT TO that much more often. Curiously, the result is that I am more relaxed about it all, more capable of taking life and work as it comes, without need for this desperate struggle for success. And that’s the real irony in all this: now that I stopped fighting, now that I freed myself of the shackles of my own rules, now that I do a much better job of being conscious about when and how long to work, I am not only happier but also more successful than ever before. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Maybe this is the work-life balance everyone’s talking about?
Thank you for sharing Masha – so many of us are dealing with exactly this topic and it is so refreshing and comforting to hear you write about your own story openly. I am struggling the same way and always thought about how to make use of the social platforms to speak about the „real life“ issues. I haven’t read blogs in a long time but this one caught my attention and I think you are going in the right direction – keep it up! ??
I can totally imagine that you’re struggling and I love to hear that I’m not the only one who tries to combine privat life and business in the best way possible! I wish you all the best and I hope you’ll find your balance soon <3
Wie du selber sagst, all diese Zeit ist sehr kostbar – all die Zeit die du selber für wichtig erachtest! Ich finde es toll, dass du bewusst daran arbeitest – man merkt außerdem sehr stark, dass sich die Qualität deiner Blogposts und dein Schreibstil in den letzten 1-2 Jahren stark verbessert hat. Ich liebe jeden Artikel von dir ? ich lese wirklich gerne von dir!
awww vielen lieben Dank Jasmin!
Ich mag die Blogposts von früher auch sehr gern, aber heute nehme ich mir einfach auch mehr Zeit für einen Post :)
I can entirely relate to this, with a career and a blog that I treat like a second full time career, plus of course LIFE, I have gone through times of immense stress, tiredness and unhealthy exhaustion. Ultimately I didn’t quit my career for a blogging only career and when I haven’t felt the reward or success from my blog or instagram (which I always put second too) I have felt so disheartened. Finding your own personal balance is so important. Loved reading your journey.
Mel x mediamarmalade.com
thank you Mel <3
Love to hear that!
wish you good luck with your journey as well <3
in any case i am one of those that followed blogs since the very start, and i still think that an instagram post can’t give you the content of a blog. I was always asking myself how you managed it!!!!! I am super proud
thank you!! I think that’s true, but it’s unfortunately not what brands think :((( so bad!
I love love this! And, I hope that at one point I can reach the point you’ve managed, but I guess I need to put in the work first. I’m glad though you’re much more happy in your private life, and I’m still looking forward to each post you give us, and since it’s less frequent now, it’ll be much more in anticipation :)
Natalie | http://nataliesalchemy.wordpress.com
awwww that’s so wonderful to hear <3
What an incredible and powerful post Masha! Your writing is so elegant and profound that it always hits home and your use of words is superb. Everything truly comes to life and might I even say, resonates with my own life. There have been times where I have just wanted to relax and go for a walk in the afternoon, but have chosen to edit a blog post instead. This post really helped me reflect on my own life to see if I have a healthy work-life balance and in fact, I think I am getting better at it. I think everything takes time to learn and we must experience things, and things for the worst sometimes, to be able to learn from them and do differently. I think having a blog is such a wonderful place to be able to express who you are and inspire others, but I think it’s much better to post less frequently, have a wonderful personal/private life, and when you do post have really thoughtful, powerful, and in-depth posts like you do right now, than overwork yourself in posting everyday and corrupting your personal life. Now of course all of this comes in time and I am guilty of doing this myself so thank you for doing what you do, inspiring people like me and others, and never stop what you are doing! xx
Thank you dear!
I always feel less lonely sharing my thoughts with the world, because of comments like yours!
Actually it’s the reason why I’m doing this! It really means a lot to me to read this!
Oh ich verstehe, dass du gerade in solch einer Position, in der Du bist Masha, da einen gewissen Konflikt spürst.
Ich freu mich für dich, dass Bloggen dir soviel in deiner Selbstentwicklung geholfen hat, und auch wenn es viele Downs gibt, ist es umso schöner zu lesen, dass du nun ein Hoch erlebst und wohl die Balance gefunden hast.
Love your dress! x