When I first started this blog (back when it was still Stylust Magazine) my main focus was in creating community, a place for others and myself to feel connected. A place for others to share and be inspired. A place for “O-M-G me, too!” moments.
This blog started as an online fashion magazine, at least that’s what I called it. Everyone who was anyone was starting blogs back then and I wanted what I was building to be taken seriously. I didn’t want to be just another blogger, writing about me, myself, and I. I wanted what I was doing to be so not about me – at all. I’m pretty sure no one even knew that I was me. I was the anonymous girl at every party. Any time I would meet someone, I would introduce myself and say I was with Stylust Magazine (like it was this big deal magazine) and people were always like, omg I’ve totally heard of that. Maybe they were just saying that to be nice or maybe they really had seen my site and always wondered about the person behind this super cool magazine. Either way, I was anonymous, and that was exactly what I think I wanted.
I always referred to myself as “we”, even before other people started to contribute. It was always, “WE would love to” or “WE will be there.” I guess it just kind of made me sound cool but also I think I wanted so badly to work with a team. To be a part of an awesome group of gals that would write and create together and encourage other women to do the same. I didn’t want to just join a group like this, I wanted to make one on my own. I still was so far from that.
So I decided to bring on some volunteer writers and contributors. There were three girls and we met together a handful of times and I told them about myself and my interest in creating community. It was so fun to have meetings and drink coffee and I tried to pretend I knew what I was doing. I could totally do this for a living, I thought to myself.
All the girls wrote a couple of pieces each and then they kind of just stopped showing up to meetings and stopped contributing. They weren’t being paid (disclaimer: neither was I) and I guess I wasn’t surprised.
All I wanted was to create this online community. I was so confused. What was the secret to creating community? How do you form these strong connections?
Just the other day I was talking with long-time contributor, Vivian, about a job she just landed that I had given her a reference for. She has contacted me through the years whenever she’s needed a reference and since she was one of our best writers I was always happy to oblige. We got to talking about her new job and how she was so excited and couldn’t wait to start this new adventure after being in school for 5 years. I mentioned something about my job and she asked, “What do you, if you don’t mind my asking?” I told her and she was surprised to know that I had a job that wasn’t this here blogazine. It was, I swear, the first non-writing related conversation we had ever had.
Sidebar: I so WISH this was my job, you guys. You have no idea.
However, I realized two very important things from this conversation. Number one: how have I known this person for almost 4 years and we’ve never had a real and honest to goodness conversation just about what is going on in each other’s lives? Number two: As a result of the above realization, it finally clicked that I have been the one denying myself and this blog the sense of community that I’ve been chasing for years.
A friend that I worked with once told me that I was very professional. Almost to a fault. I would be all about work so much and that kind of became my personality. If I worked with you, I was never real with you. It was just always about the work.
I realized that the one thing that I was searching for was also the one thing that scared me the most. Being me – and putting it out there. Saying “I” instead of “We.” Not always pretending that I had my shit together all the time. Allowing myself to be vulnerable by sharing my stories. And lastly, allowing myself to have an opinion and having it heard.
The fact is, people connect with people. That’s not to say that they can’t connect with brands or “We”, because we totally can. But at the end of the day, we all just want someone who gets us, that we can laugh with and learn from.
When it comes to this blog (yes, I’m calling it that now), it may be small now, but I have found that sense of community and starting now I am going to continue cultivating it and molding it. I hope I can build something that I will love and more importantly, that you will love, too.
Have you ever struggled with something similar? If you have, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.