Before I say anything, I wanted to get this out of the way.
Okay. We may move forward.
Well, here we are. Three years later.
One name change, one website re-design, dozens of recipes, countless photos, tons of new friends, incalculable hours, heaps of smiles, a few tears, and three years later.
It all feels like a blur, to be honest. I’ve never put my head, heart, and energy more into anything in my life, and so far it’s all been worth it. I never thought when I made my very first account on WordPress.com three years ago that I would take away so much from this experience, let alone still be doing this. I had a propensity to get something in my mind, start doing it, and never actually see it through. Well, I’ve seen it through, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
The lessons I’ve learned from this experience, as an individual, beyond a business owner or blogger, are invaluable and completely unexpected. I thought about sharing with you the business/blogging-related lessons I’ve learned over the last three years in celebration of this blogiversary, but I thought 1) you probably don’t care unless you’re a blogger and 2) that’s what BGB Community is for.
So, I thought I would share with you the things I’ve learned after three years of blogging, that have nothing to do with blogging, and everything to do with life.
Always take the high road
Having a larger presence on the internet (relative to not having this blog) means I am subjected to the opinions and voices of others/strangers, which can sometimes be negative. I never understood what the great Kevin Gnapoor meant when he said “don’t let the haters stop you from doin’ your thang”, until I experienced it first-hand. Experiencing negativity from people online literally does that: it makes you want to stop doin’ your thang. It makes you wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing, because in that moment, thinking back to before you had any sort of presence online sounds so much better than what you’re dealing with now.
I am certainly no pro at dealing with haters, and I have not dealt with it as much as a lot of people, but it has touched me in some ways, and taught me a major lesson: always take the high road. I’m going to be real with you… there have been times where all I want to say is “get a life” or “screw you”. But I’ve learned that taking the high road, something I have implemented through social media/the internet into real life, is the best option.
I recently received a negative novel of a comment on one of my Instagram photos from an individual with different diet choices than I. I’ll let your imagination run wild. Instead of arguing with this individual, I agreed to disagree and wished them a beautiful day. Although I didn’t say what I actually wanted to say (again, will let your imagination run wild), I felt so much better after having responded with kindness. Kindness breeds kindness, friends. That is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
What you do in the dark, puts you in the light
Nobody sees what’s going on behind-the-scenes. Nobody sees the 12-14 hour days, or the tears from stress and exhaustion, or the money spent. Although I have alluded to the hard work food blogging requires in other posts in order to prove a point relative to a certain topic (i.e. I need to make these Sheet Pan Fajitas because I worked a long day and I’m too tired to cook), you really do not know unless you live with me, or any blogger or business owner for that matter. I have always possessed a mindset that my hard work has a direct relationship with my success. In high school, I had a rooted belief that even though my SAT/ACT scores weren’t the greatest, I would get into my dream college because I had worked my damn ass off and it was going to happen. It did happen, and this mindset has traveled with me through the years.
At times, we may experience success in whichever field we work. And at times, it may feel unexpected. I truly believe that karma follows us and success is relative to our hard work. Sure, there are people who simply ‘get lucky’, but I’ve learned that what I’m doing with my time, that nobody else sees, is what gets me where I want to be. I believe that any award, partnership, raise, promotion, is a direct result of hard work.
This mindset has also allowed me to heal my mental wounds from falling in the comparison trap. I have learned to simply assume that if someone is doing “better” than me, or what have you, that they worked hard to get there. Assuming that someone got something that you wanted or is somewhere you want to be simply because they were lucky is going to kill you inside. I’ve found that it’s important to be real with myself and really audit my behaviors and outlook. Did so-and-so get the promotion you wanted? Is so-and-so working your dream job in your dream city? Whatever it is, take a deeper look into your processes and think about what you’re doing; standing idle and wondering why you’re not getting where you want to be is not the answer. Stop thinking about it, and do something about it.
View rejection as luck
“What’s meant to be will find it’s way”. I live my life with this in mind, always. I have been rejected so many times in my life. Seriously. Growing up, the boys I liked never seemed to like me back. I received so many rejections and crickets (as in, no response at all) while looking for a job after college that it took me seven months to score a job (a job I knew I would hate). If I had a nickel for every brand that rejected me for a potential partnership, I’d be rich.
I used to be devastated every time I was rejected. Oh, the amount of tears that flowed through my eyes during the job hunt (mainly due to frustration) was ridiculous. Whenever a boy didn’t like me, I thought it was because there was something wrong with me. Even now, I was recently asked to audition for a popular online cooking show that shall remain nameless, and so I did. I was so excited to even be asked, but yet again, I was rejected. However, after having experienced this feeling for so many instances in my life, I have a whole new outlook that has the power to change your life (seriously):
IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” -Dalai Lama
I’ve learned to care about rejection for a total of five seconds and then move on; it’s not worth it. It’s not part of your plan, there is no point in focusing on it. Keep kicking ass, and the things that are meant to be for you, will happen. Okay, another favorite quote of mine (which was the quote I used for the senior section of my high school yearbook), “victory is greatest when you’ve known defeat”. Remember that – all of the rejections you receive will make reaching your goals that much more AWESOME.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything
Last month I was so determined to get everything done on my to-do list before I went on vacation so that I could fully relax on my cruise. Let’s just say my to-do list resembled a receipt from CVS more than a laundry list. MUST. GET. ALL. THE. THINGS. DONE.
I was doing so much that I started to notice my creativity and drive wither away. Also known as, burnout. The sirens began to sound. Wee woo wee woo.
I realized that unless I took a break, the work I was doing was going to be crap. Sure, I would get it done, but it wouldn’t be quality, because I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was focusing more on just simply getting it done, than the value I was bringing to others. This brings me to a point I’ve made in a few other posts about learning to say no. I never thought saying no would be a good thing, but I’ve certainly learned that over the last three years.
It’s a powerful thing to understand when to say no and when to say yes. I think the most empowered I’ve felt in a long time was when I said no to a free trip to New York City. Sure, it was hard to deny something that would be totally awesome and *free*, but would it lead me in the right direction? No. You almost have to create a message map in your mind of what you should say no to and what you should say yes to. This comes with experience, that’s for sure. You’ll quickly learn that saying no is good when you’re in over your head with deadlines.
Being busy is an amazing thing
I’ve learned that as much as I can complain at times when I’m extremely busy, it’s a positive thing to be busy. Sure, sometimes you feel stressed out when you’ve got a million and one things to do. Oh boy, have I been there. But recently I stopped to think about what I had to do and what people were asking of me.
Being busy with work means that you’re talented. It means that you’re intelligent, an asset, and you are needed. Being busy with work means you have something that someone else doesn’t. That you’ve worked hard for the expertise you possess, and someone needs to use what you have. Not to get cheesy, but having this click in my head has totally changed my life. But really, I used to get so stressed out when I was busy, but it was more of a whiney stressed. Like, “AH MAH GAH I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY EXPECT ME TO DO ALL OF THIS”, or something… But then I realized, I am grateful that somebody would trust me with this, or that somebody knows I will do a great job.
Of course, there are parameters. Nobody wants to be a slave, but I’m assuming that is understood within the context here (again, learning when to say no).
Being busy with work means you have a job, which is something to be grateful for in it of itself.
Don’t wait for life to happen
This one took me a while, but I’m finally seeing the light. Something I decided majorly toward the end of 2015 and in 2016 was that I was going to stop waiting for things to happen to me, and that I was going to MAKE things happen.
I recently scored a long-term partnership with one of my favorite brands, which I am uber excited about. Why? Because I made it happen. I reached out to them. I worked with them and did a good job for a long time. I proved to them that I was an asset to their brand strategy. I made it happen.
If I want something to happen, I am the only person that can make that happen. Waiting for something to happen is a complete and total waste of my time, and knowing how precious time is, I refuse to sit back and wait.
Do things that scare you
Okay, I am totally still working on this one as it translates to ‘real life’. I mean, I still won’t ride a rollercoaster. And I sure as hell am not going skydiving. However, I have done things that have scared me in the blogging and business world, and they proved to be great learning experiences. I have learned to charge head on into things that intimidate me. Why? Because, why the hell not?!
I will be the first to admit: I have no idea what I am doing. Every damn day, on a high-level, no clue what the heck I am doing. I’m just doing it, because I know I can reach my goals and because I have a burning passion. Even at work – I often act like I know what I’m doing, when really, I don’t. This is how you learn – you just do it.
I recently had to give a social media presentation to an investor in our company. It wasn’t even a huge presentation, I was only presenting to four people in his company, but hey, I get really nervous talking in front of people. I’m talking the shakes, the sweats, the whole nine. But, I made notes, I made a presentation, and I just did what I had to do. Long story short, it turned out great, and I even proved to my boss and a co-worker of mine that I know more about the field than they had ever thought. I’d even surprised myself.
You are always better than you think
I’ve struggled with confidence my whole life. Blogging has brought out a confidence in me that I never had. It showed me what I love to do, and it allowed me to exert energy into that thing, which allowed me to consistently improve, and feel proud.
You know how women are known for not accepting compliments? Like, if I tell you right now that you look beautiful, maybe you’d say “Ugh what? I look so bad right now…” Yeah, I say that all the time to my boyfriend. I could be wearing no makeup, my hair is a hot mess, I’m in mix-matching lay-around clothes, and if he tells me I look beautiful, I look at him like he’s crazy. But you know what? Maybe I am beautiful. My soul is beautiful, my heart is beautiful, my drive is beautiful. (And maybe he likes greasy hair, I don’t judge.)
We often doubt our abilities. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself, and throughout the last three years, I have learned to step outside of my little bubble and look at things with a different mindset whenever I receive a compliment. If somebody tells me that my food photography is stunning, I sometimes immediately think “no it’s not… especially not compared to xyz”. WRONG ANSWER, CHRISTINA. I’m always in go-go-go mode, that I don’t step back to look at how far I’ve come. So, I encourage you to accept compliments, especially as it pertains to your work, and realize that hey – you’ve been working hard, and you’ve improved, and your sh*t is awesome.
Alright, now that I’ve hit my yearly quota for all things cheesy and cliche, I wanted to say thank you to all of you that read my words and enable my food-photo-taking and recipe-making obsession. I appreciate you more than you will ever know.
*pops champagne* Cheers to you, friend.