Lots of people need me. Rely on me. My kids are two such people. My husband is epically self-sufficient, but it doesn’t strain credulity to imagine he might rely on me now and again. My office also needs me to produce my work product. My friends rely on my supportive texts and listening ears. My therapist, of course, relies on the steady flow of my income; my local Costco, my steady business. While it’s not the population of a small country, there are a handful of people who are counting me regularly to perform certain tasks.
You know who doesn’t need me? The Bloggess. Or the Pioneer Woman. Or Dooce. Or that Dad or Alive guy. None of those people– the big time bloggers– need me. Know how I know that? Because before I ever see their posts or their witty Facebook status updates, they’ve already got hundreds of “likes.” In some cases, there are already thousands. (I’m looking at you Humans of New York and Pioneer Woman.) I’m nothing to those people, though I am sure they don’t wish me any ill will. They’ll never know my name or count on me to do a vital task.
In consideration of my insignificance to the Big Guns of blogging and social media, I have rarely, if ever, “liked” or commented on their stuff. I’ve scrolled through their Instagram feeds quickly and reserved my energy for scrappy underdogs like myself.
For the entire time I’ve been blogging, I’ve basically ignored them (with some exceptions for Dooce). It’s not really bitterness, but it’s in the ballpark of bitterness. It’s like semi-sour grapes, the kind that quench that little thirst in the back of my throat. The one that says I’m small potatoes and makes me feel bad about my insignificance. The logic is impeccable: I’ll never be as big as they are, so I pretend they don’t exist.
Then I stopped pretending. Something made me “like” one of Pioneer Woman’s extraordinary photos of cattle on her land in Oklahoma. Then, the same thing happened with Dad or Alive on Facebook. My edges started to warm and melt around me and these Big Guns, and that iron curtain I thought I needed to protect my ego became more permeable.
I stopped shielding my eyes from their good fortune. I no longer felt physically ill when reading about their book deals, TV scripts and renewed contracts. Somewhere I adopted a new attitude and a new tolerance for other people’s wild, beyond-my-dreams successes. I saw them as people for the first time, instead of as marketing geniuses who know “how to brand” and go viral. I saw in their pictures, stories and posts the same thing I see in the blogs I read and comment on religiously: inspiration, humor, grace, black comedy, yummy food, and humility.
Not every blogger has won my heart. I still speed-scroll through a certain blogger’s endless photos of vacations in the breathtaking American West, but maybe I’ll come around to her too. Anything’s possible.
In the meantime, I enjoy the peace I’ve made with them, because even though they don’t need me, I need them. To show me the way. To provide inspiration. To be lodestars. To push me to improve and stretch myself. To make me burn with an envy and awe that hasn’t killed me yet, and most likely never will.