humility

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So here is the truth- this blog and what I write about has challenged in ways I wouldn't have imagined. I know that sounds strange, because it's just a blog. I'm not saving the world. I haven't even been doing it for that long. And I have gone through way more things that technically would seem much harder. Things like grief and loss and sickness. 

But this experience has been its own special kind of hard. Each week I show up and put myself out onto the internet in a very vulnerable way. I watch as the numbers come in, but don't always know who those numbers represent. Mostly the support that I have received has exceeded anything I could have imagined. All sorts of people, known and unknown, have reached out to me with the kindest words. My analytic numbers have been pretty high for a new venture, which sounds really great. Except when they significantly dropped last week, causing me to freak out a bit. 

Was I doing something wrong? Was the content no longer interesting? Had people decided that they no longer wanted to continue reading? 

All of those questions went through my head, creating a lot of fear. And instead of shutting them up, I fed into them. I believed them for a bit and allowed the feelings to throw me off balance. I reached out to my mentor and she reminded me that none of what I do is about numbers. That there is nothing outside of me and that with fear, I will only attract more fear.

After speaking with her, I had this overwhelming desire to get on the floor. I laid down, feeling the wood beneath as I breathed in and out. I asked for all of the negative beliefs to be taken. To be reminded in a great way of why I do what I do. While numbers do translate to things, like potential dollar signs and value, they aren't actually real. In a world where the most basic of ideas can generate the most attention, shouldn't I know that already? 

After I had regained a sense of calm, I got up and walked over to my computer. A writer that I met in Portland had just posted a talk from Cheryl Strayed called the Humble Road To Greatness. Cheryl explains that humble literally means low to the ground. She says that while concepts like greatness and success and reaching for the stars are good, they can also be debilitating. She jokes about your dreams killing you, creating so pressure that you can't move forward. In order to write her memoir, Wild, she had to accept the possibility of mediocrity. She had to be willing to be less than great. After all, she was not a writer for the sake of numbers or accolades. She did it because there was no other choice. Her voice had to find a way to be expressed. 

I knew that this talk came in perfect timing. Especially after just returning from being low to the ground. Creativity must be done for creativity's sake, otherwise it loses all of its magic. Especially for the one doing the creating. Before getting on the floor, I had reached out to a couple friends that run big websites/accounts. The next day, after dropping my number obsession, they got back to me. They all said the same thing- Facebook will continue to lower who sees what you post so that you are forced into paying. Which meant my numbers dropping didn't have to do with the content. But that knowledge didn't arrive until after I remembered why I do what I do. 

I felt compelled to share this since we are living in a numbers heavy world. It can be difficult not to compare yourself to someone who is like you, but has a way bigger following. Or way more clients or comments. But your path is your path, and yours alone. Comparing and freaking out about followers and metrics is a giant waste of energy. At the end of day, we must always remember why we do what we do. And if numbers are the reason, then maybe we should reconsider what we're doing. 

Photo: Jess Conkwright

Here is the link to the talk: http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=63312&width=592&height=422&show_playlist=1&autoplay=true%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E

HealKenna Conway