So those of you who are old enough to remember the ground breaking onset of ‘Web 2.0’ will be able take a trip down internet memory lane with me.
You’ll appreciate how peculiar it was in 2005 to take up the art of blogging. How novel it was to be one of those terribly ordinary people who went against the very grain of Englishness to start writing their innermost thoughts on a new fangled public ‘blog’ platform for the whole, wide world to see. Britain was still in ‘Friends Reunited’ land. The entire internet-sphere was pre-millennial, pre ‘social media’ (pre My-Space even). In fact the universe housed a completely different world.
This is why, as an eager 25 year old, I considered myself rather ‘down with the kids’ as I took a leap of faith and became someone daring enough to write a blog. I remember it was created on a (now very old fashioned) platform called Typepad. WordPress didn’t exist then. And as the (then subversively young) President of The Fulham WI, I irreligiously, engaged with the brave new world of ‘user-generated content’ and took up writing under the strap-line ‘Blogging not Baking’….
Oh what a rush that blog was for me. I felt so free. So creative. So brave. I loved having a place to let my ideas gush. My musings spill out. Was anyone reading it? No. Not really. But I didn’t care. I was just so excited to be ‘A Blogger’…
Regrettably my elated blogging bravery lasted all of about two months.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I have always loved writing. I even did a degree course in it. No it was just that in creating that blog I got taught a painful lesson that took me a long, long time to learn from. Thirteen years to be precise! I just hope in writing this article I can help someone else to learn the same lesson a bit quicker than I did.
So what happened? Well, what happened was… I encountered my first real ‘hater’. My first troll.
I’d been happily writing away about something we had got up to at our latest WI meeting (I seem to remember we had some brilliant speakers.. my all time favourite being Cherie Blair’s life coaching guru – Carole Caplin…) when all of a sudden someone other than my mother started posting comments on my beloved blog. These comments weren’t just generic ones. They were really vile. They were personal. They went along the lines of “Who do you think you are writing a blog – you attention-seeking little upstart?” and “Why do you think you have anything of value to say – you vacuous posh girl?” And “annoying people like you should be put in sealed boxes with lead bricks attached to them and thrown in the Thames”… and so on and so forth. The comments were horrible. I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach. I wasn’t expecting it and I wasn’t prepared for it.
The truth is I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a ‘tool kit’ to deal with such palpable hatred as it travelled through the ether in my direction. It just made me want to crawl under a blanket and hide. Until then I had thought I was brave. But I wasn’t brave at all and I stopped blogging very soon after my encounter with this ‘hater’. I just couldn’t write any more. I became afraid and the words would no longer come.
I never found out who posted that stuff. Maybe they knew me, maybe they didn’t. And although the comments shouldn’t have mattered to me then and they certainly don’t matter now, what does matter is that I was daft enough to let them strip me of my power and stop me in my tracks. Despite enjoying it enormously, I stopped blogging and writing at that point completely and I really regret that it took me so long to start again. The thing is as I get older I am so grateful for time and I don’t want to waste a minute of it and it’s why I feel so strongly about sharing my lesson.
Who knows what might have been? I could have had a blog that turned into best selling book or was snapped up by a Hollywood production company… I could be stupendously rich living off the royalties right now… but I’m not because I didn’t give myself the chance. And all because I cared too much about what some anonymous troll thought. I let them steal my potential.
So, if there’s one thing I know to be true (now that I am 40 and no longer 25), it’s that being a people pleaser and worrying about what random haters or other pathetic, unhappy, negative people say, write or think – is just a waste of my time and utterly and completely pointless. I look back and realise I wasted thirteen years, until I started blogging again a couple of years ago. All because of this ridiculous person I never even met. How sad is that?
Listen to me when I say: Don’t waste your precious time. Ditch the people pleasing and close your eyes and ears to the haters. Believe in yourself. Be brave and don’t be afraid to be visible. The haters will come and go and they are probably just jealous of you or having a bad day. Your time is priceless. And as long as you are speaking your truth; doing and saying what you know to be right and honourable – you have a human right to do and say it. And who knows what wonderful things might happen when you are brave enough to raise your head above the parapet to do and say it.
About the author
Lucy is a Technology Evangelist & Co-Founder of the UK based organisation The Goddess Formula®. She is dedicated to improving overall societal equality, diversity and productivity by leveraging technology to deliver tailored business coaching & mentoring to women. She launched her first tech start-up in 2005 and as MD of the Digital Agency SYSTEMYZED® has helped 100s of (predominantly female) clients bring their business visions to life via digital product development. As a business coach she supports clients to find technical solutions that align with business goals. Lucy is committed to being a strong female role model for her three children and empowering each woman to achieve her unique version of optimum business success.