I thought maybe my next big venture would be to become a blogger as my full-time pursuit. After all, I’ve been compiling tips on Pinterest for more than a year about the best ways to do it.
But after further research into the way internet content is changing, I think it will just have to be a hobby, something I do for enjoyment. Maybe I can build online communities of people to talk to about chronic illness, Catholicism, frugal living, social justice. I’ve long felt like I didn’t fit in with any specific group, particularly in terms of Catholicism. I care a lot about the social justice aspect and in some ways I’m more conservative than the average non-Catholic person but I’m generally way too liberal for most Catholics.
If I can’t find a place to belong, maybe I’ll have to create it. Even if it feels like I’m talking to myself at first (or forever.)
But I’ve realized in reading more that the new frontier of making a career out of your life has largely moved on to visual mediums. Just writing isn’t enough. I’m now self-conscious about my paragraphs being too long and that I don’t include enough pictures.
Everything now is more oriented toward Instagram and YouTube. Fewer words, more pictures. From thirsty dads who’d rather try to get endorsements as a fitness trainer/processed sweets endorser (every bit as incongruous and confusing as it sounds) than get a job, to the countless beautiful young girls who want to be the next big YouTube star so famous for how they do their makeup that they get their own makeup lines, everything now is Self-As-Brand.
Even weight loss bloggers try to make most of their living from hosting Dietbets and getting fans to crowdsource the money for surgery to remove excess skin. The chronic illness bloggers make money from shilling essential oils, shakes or supplements. Everybody is positioning themselves not for honest content, but for what will get the most views, the most likes. Because more likes and views equals more lucrative endorsements. No one is truly unbiased in this new frontier.
I don’t know how to do any of that. I can’t advertise products I don’t believe in, just for the money.
I was never particularly well-suited to participating in the self-as-brand concept. Now I have found that I am simply left behind in many ways. I don’t want to live under a microscope. With my own kids who are adults or nearly adults themselves, I can’t be in the ever-popular “mommy blogger” category either. (And I desperately don’t want to be a grandma blogger any time soon, if such a genre even exists.)
I think I’m too prone to depression to keep a journal every day that people want to read. I have too many major interests to narrow it down to just one blog. But when you have several different blogs by topic (like I do now) it just scatters your audience.
And I’m just not a visual thinker to do it all on Instagram. You have to be mostly single-minded in what you post to find a community online, especially on Instagram, and I am too scattered.
Something kinda terrifying happened when I recently pursued my dream of a full-time writing job and had to quit in less than two months because of my health: all my other freelance work dried up, too. I had nothing to return to.
I’ve reached out to my most long-term and reliable contacts, and none of them have work for me. In most cases, circumstances having nothing to do with me mean that they may never have work for me again. We’re talking one was a reliable and fairly lucrative client I worked with for like 13 years…*poof*
I know not everyone shares the same view in God as the reason, but regardless of cause, all these doors are slamming shut, all at once. No matter how I try to return to old clients or find new ones, nothing is coming through. Since we need income, that’s inconvenient to say the least. And terrifying.
Since freelancing isn’t looking like it will be my full-time career anymore, maybe I should just use my domain name (my real first and last name) and web hosting to post all my real thoughts there on all my random topics. Let the chips fall where they may. See if anyone wants to read.
It’s really a question of whether I have the courage to be linked to my real opinions, but at least I no longer have to worry that doing so will affect my ability to get work…because I have none anymore.
But what if I’m supposed to go in some other direction? Or what if I’m supposed to continue freelancing, just for a totally new roster of clients, once I’ve recovered from the effects of my current relapse?
Of course, there’s also the terrifying possibility that I’m not ever going to recover from this relapse. I’ve tried to tiptoe around the subject, even with my husband, and honestly I believed that my functioning would fully return to normal by October or November. But what if it doesn’t? I’ve been sick much longer and more consistently this year than at any time before.
I feel like I’m in limbo in many ways. Creating a brand based on my persona isn’t going to happen. I’m not that self-promoting, for one thing (which is why I never did it when I was younger and was the mother of young children and had more of a following.) And for another thing, creating yourself as a brand looks like a hell of a lot of work.
If I had the energy and health to really invest in something, it wouldn’t be trying to make more money from my “brand.” I’d honestly rather try to help other people than get more for myself. But the truth is that right now I’m not well enough to even do that much.
More I find that I just want to be as happy as I can be. To keep writing (even just for fun). To love my family. To pursue my little hobbies.
I truly get a sense some days that life itself feels tenuous. I don’t know that I have 40 more years left. Maybe that’s just the discouragement of being sick for so long without relief. But I don’t know what I’m going to do with the years I do have left, however many I have, especially if I can’t ever work full-time again.
I have to give myself permission and acceptance to just be.