Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Being a big fish in a small pond

Lately I have been overcome by my own insignificance. There are so many people in this world, and I am only one of billions. Sometimes I think about high school and college. While there, I was a big fish in a small pond. I was a really good flute player in my high school band. I was always first chair, made region and all-state bands and for several years I was one of the drum majors of our high school marching band. I felt accomplished and proud of all my hard work.

Once I graduated high school, I went to a small college with the knowledge that I would have to start over. That school was not my first choice, though. I really wanted to go to the big state university in my home state, but I did not get accepted into the music school. That was very devastating for a long time, and sometimes, even now, something can trigger my sadness and disappointment that I did not have the opportunity to attend that school.

While at college I worked hard. I became a leader. I accomplished all the goals I had set out to accomplish and then some. Again, I was a big fish in a small pond. I felt on top of the world.

I went to a bigger school for my first year of graduate studies, and there were so many great flutists there. I was not one of the best, but I was still able to hold my own. Even though I was not the best, I performed at a respectable level. I was also one of the youngest even as a graduate student.

I did not finish obtaining my Master's degree at that school. I took a few years off to work, and I auditioned for another larger university, where I spent a year and a half to complete my Master's degree. I feel like I performed at an acceptable level, but no one ever knew who I was! There were so many people at that school that I never made a name for myself. Honestly, I didn't try. As soon as I was done with what I needed to finish, I went home to spend time with my husband and I did all my practicing and homework at home. I never had a social life with the people at school.

After graduation, we moved to my current town. We started going to church here, and I have made some good friends here. I mostly stay home with Lily, and I have a lot of time to think. I think about how I will never really change the world. I will never be a famous flutist. I will never cure cancer. I will never be well-known. I wonder, "Will I ever make a difference? Will I change lives for the better? Will I help people? Does it matter?"

With all this big fish in a small pond thinking I have been doing, and feeling pretty swallowed up in the big wide ocean that I am now a part of, I have been fantasizing about disabling my blog. I have thought about deleting my facebook account and my Twitter account. Basically, I have been thinking about unplugging from the internet. A lot. But something stops me. I know I said that I was going to go back to just blogging for fun, but it is a hard thing to do. I keep checking my blog stats and find that I do not get very much traffic. I have no idea how to increase traffic. I have no idea what to say that is interesting to others. I have looked up advice on how to be a good blogger and one piece of advice that pops up is, "Don't suck." Hmmm....okay. So, how can I not suck? I have been told that I have gotten better at writing the longer I have done this. The more I do this, the better I get. So, practice writing? That makes sense. At best, I usually get around to writing a blog post about once a week. That is not enough! What if I only practiced my flute one day a week. (Well, I do that now, but what about when I was in college?)  What if I only exercised one day a week or trained for a 5K one day a week? I would never get very good. I read an article recently that said you should ask yourself, "Would you read what you write?" I've been thinking about that a lot lately. There are so many good mommy bloggers out there. I am just one tiny little minnow in the Pacific Ocean. Would I read this if someone else wrote it? Probably not.

So how do I find out what people want to read? I follow some blogs that are very similar to mine. I follow some that are very specific to a certain topic such as birth, breastfeeding or parenting. Sometimes someone can go about their blogging life doing it for fun, and they write a really great post that ends up becoming viral. How in the world does that happen? Is it luck?

I have also heard to find your voice. What in the world is my voice? Apparently people can sniff out insincerity really easily, so how do I avoid being insincere?

This goes back to my I-want-to-be-good-if-I-am-gonna-do-something philosophy. Sure, flute was fun, but it wasn't enough to just be good at it. I had to be GREAT at it. I had to be a big fish. Even if it was in a small pond. If I am going to play flute, I want to be great. If I am going to be a wife and mom, I want to be great. If I am going to be a doula, I want to be great. If I am going to be a blogger, I want to be great. When I first started this thing, I just wanted a place to write about my family and post pictures. Well I can do that in my journal. Then I discovered that people share a lot of valuable information through blogs. Some people have lots of followers. I thought that was cool! So I started thinking about my life in a different way, "Oh, I could totally write a blog post about that!" And not a post where I just list things that happened, but a post on life lessons and concepts. Posts that not only share, but can teach something valuable.

But I have started fantasizing about quitting it all because I don't have the kind of brain where I can keep up with blogging in the way that I need to in order to be truly successful at it. And it makes me uncomfortable to leave something unfinished. It would make me feel really weird to just leave my blog out in cyberspace unfinished. I would want to completely erase its existence. I don't know why I feel that way, but if I am not going to do it, then it needs to cease to exist.

That is probably why I still hang on to it. After all, I wrote about so many things dear to my heart whether or not anyone else has benefited from it or even cared. I wrote about my pregnancy with Lily here. I wrote about holidays and giving birth and Lily growing and breastfeeding and all kinds of things in my life that are special to me. I told my husband that I have been contemplating shutting down my blog and he said, "I don't think you should do that." My husband is never one to tell me what I should or shouldn't do. In fact, was that the first time? Hmmm....he never said why he thinks I shouldn't do it, but he did say it.

I will say, though, in our family I am totally the big fish in our small little pond. My husband has been described as "reeking of love" for me. It's true. He's just oozing love for me. I have a wonderful and quiet assurance and confidence that I have a husband that loves me and I never have to worry about that. My daughter thinks the world of me. In fact, she's pretty possessive of me. I won't lie, I'm flattered by it. We had some friends over on Friday night, and one of their little boys who is ten months old started to pull himself to a standing position by pulling my pants. Lily saw him and pulled him off. Though I was embarrassed that she did that, because she has never done anything like that before, a part of me felt flattered that she didn't want any other babies touching her mama. And then our two crazy kitties. They always want to be on me somehow. They love me. My whole little family, they just love the heck out of me. So maybe I'll never change the world. Maybe I'll never cure cancer, or be a famous flutist, or write amazing blog posts, or be a well-known and respected doula, but in my little pond, in my little family, I change their world. In fact, I am their world. And that feels good.

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