Recently I watched a YouTube content creator’s video on why she stepped away from YouTube for a while and deleted the Instagram account associated with her “brand.”
She talked about how she started her channel as a boredom buster, I’ll call it, but the response was so overwhelmingly unexpected, she kept making videos. Videos about the same topic that got her so much attention, though it wasn’t what she wanted to talk about—at least not ALL THE TIME. The pressure to create content that pleased the masses drove her to anxiety and depression.
Bottom line: an unpopular girl (IRL) suddenly became “popular” online. She craved the attention so much it consumed her, and nearly ruined her relationships and her self-perception.
And though my situation is the exact opposite, her words never rung truer.
I’ve been blogging since 2011. It started as an online journal (to replace the ones piling up in my bedroom), until I realized what I shared wasn’t just for me. It wasn’t even about me. God inspired me to share them as an encouragement to others because the cliché is true—we’re all in this together.
But with that mindset shift came the expectation that people would respond to what I wrote. They would like, comment, and subscribe in droves because who can resist a girl sharing the goodness of Jesus (right?). And while a handful* have responded, those numbers don’t match the time I’ve put in over the years. And suddenly that didn’t sit well with me.
Now, I’ve written extensively about my dad’s rejection and how I responded with a combination of seclusion and achievement. But I had no idea that online engagement, or the lack thereof, would trigger those feelings and responses, or that I would value myself in light of people’s responses to posts on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
Wasn’t I the woman who wrote, “I have nothing to prove?”
It wasn’t until I stopped my promotional efforts to be “seen and heard” and looked at the stats, that I realized no amount of poor writing or SEO could account for the minimal post interactions across my site and platforms.
No, this was by design.
A carefully designed plan re-framing the lens through which I see myself. A plan revealing the beauty of running my race without social commentary. A plan to bless me with freedom.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How in the world is being ignored online a blessing to you?
Because here’s the thing … your response to my words don’t validate me.
But the fact Jesus shares His with me, does. Our relationship and the cross that brought it about, are all the validation I could ever need.
I’d forgotten that having God’s approval was the only reason I dared shift my writing from private to public, sharing His perspective on my experiences. These are more than posts. They’re summaries of my conversations with Him.
And to answer the age-old question, even if you never “hear” what I have to say—I still make a sound.
And I know it’s common wisdom to write for the masses. To throw my wet finger in the air, see which way the wind is blowing, and write about that. I don’t begrudge those who do so.
But I write for an audience of One, believing His wind of favor blowing on me will bring my words before those who resonate with them.
And I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be myself in my writing, as I am in real life, and leaving it to people to take me or leave me. And yes, it’s awkward seeing how few people get me. There’s no vulnerability quite like authenticity. I swallow hard every time I hit the publish button and the subsequent silence is deafening.
But it doesn’t make me silent.
I’ll speak again, when so moved, and always more confidently than the last. And the ones who do get me are like priceless winks from heaven.
Grace is funny that way…
What can I say? I don’t know any other way than staying true, both in my content and its delivery. And I’m good with that.
Running my race,
in my own lane,
for a trophy
not made by human hands.
Because I have nothing to prove.
Neither does that YouTuber … and neither do you.
Meaningful, human connection happens over time using the five senses. Online interaction only uses two senses, at best. While connecting online has it’s place in “modern” society, prioritizing “in real life” relationships leads to a richer, fuller life.
***SHOUT OUT to those who hang out and engage with me here and on the Vine. I appreciate your company!
“Running the race God gave me … and winning!”
Running My Race Tee. Buy yours.
Because She Believes. And WHAT she believes … changes her life!
VANESSA A. HARRIS is an inspirational content creator and the author of DADDY’s Girl Forever and its devotional. She’s a physician turned stay at home mom, who’s never lost her NY wit. She needs it for the three inventive children she raises with her husband in Texas.