There's a series on Channel 4 with Grayson Perry on at the moment surrounding identity, where we sit within ourselves and what's behind the masks we wear or the version of ourselves we project in any given situation. Right now I'm at a point where I can be the most myself I've ever felt able to be online. I'm not sure whether that's because I'm just that little bit older, or if it's because I'm more secure in what I'm putting out there.
There are two things that I remain unsure of; if anyone has ever stopped by for my beauty recommendations, or if I ever was a good beauty blogger. Regardless I still accepted samples for review, at one point saying yes to maybe 40% of the things I was offered; things I was pretty sure I'd like, things that sounded interesting, and things that I thought I might not like but was curious about. The things that I didn't like never made it into a post. At the time I thought that was best, but now I think that all I really did was waste a bunch of people's time.
Occasionally I wrote reviews and then found myself changing my mind a few weeks or months down the line. Not that changing my mind is inherently bad, tastes change and going back to edit a post is totally possible. However the thought of recommending something, prompting someone to spend their money on something they end up hating, and then finding myself thinking that it wasn't that great in the first place makes me a bit uncomfortable. I've been thinking about why that is and I think it's because I felt like a bit of a fraud. There are incredible beauty writers around who try so many products and from that they're able to compare, contrast & provide solid recommendations. I could never be on their level.
There are three valuable blogging lessons I've personally learned in regards to this over time;
to only accept less than 5% of the things I'm offered comprised solely of things I already think I'll like
to take my time in forming an opinion
that I don't have to review things in the traditional sense.
In leaving the in depth reviews to those who are much more versed in the nature of reviewing, I think (hope) it's okay for me to just mention the things I'm using and liking at any given moment. Accepting less and taking time in forming opinions has resulted in less things being offered to me, which I totally understand. PR agencies have targets and budgets. I always want them to approach those who will really be able to help get the word out about their client's products. If that's not me then it's more than okay, and if it is me then I'll always try my best, as long as I'm able to stay within my own comfort zone.
Although perhaps my perspective has been a little off kilter this whole time. Maybe critical reviews or prompting discussions around the things I wasn't so impressed with would have been better. Are critical discussions more valuable? Is it even possible to start and sustain multiple smaller discussions when the blogosphere is insanely huge now? My reason for not liking something may be your reason to think 'hmm, yes, I might like that'. We're all different and that's what makes life exciting. I think that discussion is important. But at the same time it's never been my aim to 'sell' products to anyone, you know? This has always been about connecting with people who have similar interests.
Of course over time interests and tastes change. Just because I had a lot in common with someone three years ago, it doesn't mean that's the case now. And I love that because it means I get to see the world from their perspective and how it differs from my own, when we started off looking from very similar angles. Three years ago I loved make up and I almost trained to be a make up artist. Three years and most of an English Lit degree later I like make up, but I love books. Neither one holds more worth than the other, they're just different. A very good friend takes enormous pride when she recommends a product to someone who goes on to adore it and feel extra confident within themselves. That's giving an incredible gift to someone and she does it regularly.
As for what I hope to do one day? If I can encourage one person to pick up a book for the first time in a long time and it opens the door of literature for them, well, I'll be able to look back and think that I achieved something.
So even though I'm not sure where/if I fit into the blogging community anymore or if in not talking about things I dislike I'm contributing to a problem, I think I'm more content than I've ever been.