{owning it} On the Changes

by Rachel on February 8, 2012

Some of you may have noticed my blog’s new header and sidebar icons already; if you haven’t (or if you’re viewing this in an RSS reader), come on over and take a look!

Working with a designer for the first time was so exciting. I’ve always been very DIY when it comes to blogging headers and design, mainly because I typically can’t afford not to do things myself. But as blogging has become more popular, it seems like everyone and her sister has a professional design job. While I really care more about my blog’s inner beauty, it would be silly for me to pretend a blog’s outer beauty doesn’t matter. And its outer beauty just wasn’t doing it for me.

The truth is, I was over my header and I had been for a long time. First, it just didn’t represent my personal style at all. For several years, my style has been pretty clean, preppy, and minimalistic; I rarely wear or decorate with bright colors. I also felt like it didn’t represent my blog anymore. I designed the header back when I was blogging about health and fitness; I tweaked it a little when I changed my blog’s name and URL, but I really should have had it redesigned then. That original design was meant to distinguish my blog and brand it in a sea of healthy living blogs, and it did that. But then my blog started to change and the visual representation didn’t match the tone or the content or me anymore.

On the one hand, I figured it didn’t really matter. I mean, it’s just a header, just like a pair of shoes is just an accessory. It doesn’t change the nature of who or what is wearing it. The problem is that, like it or not, first impressions matter. As do twentieth impressions. My blog’s design was telling new visitors it was something maybe it wasn’t, and was telling older readers that it was still the same thing it had always been. And while I don’t think my blog’s content has changed so dramatically, I did know that it was evolving in a way I needed to acknowledge.

But acknowledging that my blog had changed was essentially admitting I had changed. It wasn’t about the header; it was about accepting that I was different than I was two years ago. I knew it, my friends and family knew it; but even though my friends and family were cool with it and I liked who I was becoming, I was seriously about as comfortable talking about it as I was talking about my boobs and period when I was 14. Thinking about a new design felt about as fun as unexpectedly getting my period during 9th grade history class. I was also terrified of starting over. To be honest, I felt like I had the healthy living blog thing down. And the raging slut thing too. Writing about things that were new for me meant I’d have to re-learn how to do it. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge and I wasn’t sure if people who had been reading my blog for a while were either. I mean, that sounds about as fun as watching a bunch of teens with all their acne, braces, changing voices, and new bodies try to interact at the mall. But I finally reached a point when sticking with my old design — and trying to make my content fit that old design, and that old blog — in an effort to ignore how I’d changed seemed ridiculous.

I kept my URL and my blog’s title, but beyond that, I feel like this is going to be the year when I tear things down and start over. I want to blog like I haven’t had a blog for the past six years. For some people, nothing feels that different here and new people probably won’t really think twice about it. But for others, it will look messy, awkward, and painful, and they’ll just need to look away. And that’s fine.

But owning that it’s fine to disappoint people has probably been one the hardest things I’ve ever really owned. That is probably why it took me this long. If someone tells me they hate something I’ve worked on or who I’ve become…yeah, I care about that. I’m not going to say “Sorry I’m not sorry! Fuck off!” and go on my merry way. But by trying to be open-minded and flexible, I was actually changing in another way, a way I wasn’t proud of: I was becoming a person overwhelmed with self-doubt. I’m cool with the fact that I don’t want to sleep around anymore, but I will never be able to just accept not being a confident person.

Once I decided to get a new header and icons, I was tempted to re-brand my whole blog in the process, so that at first glance people would know what to expect and could simply move along if it wasn’t their thing. I’ve always felt like bloggers should be up front with people; there’s plenty of Internet out there and I’m not going to force anyone to read my blog if they just hate everything I stand for. But unfortunately, I really can’t tell anyone what to expect. I have no idea right now what my blog’s meta-narrative is. I can’t write a tagline. I have no clue who is reading or who should be reading. But it would be really dumb for me to start with what I want my blog to be/what I think other people want my blog to be/what my blog used to be, and then try to make my content fit that.

And to be honest, I don’t expect everyone to keep reading as I transition. Not only do I not want to force anyone to witness my awkward blogging puberty, the fact is, working in a vacuum has its perks. When you first start blogging, you don’t have a lot of readers, and while that seems like a bad thing, it’s actually a really good thing because you can do whatever the fuck you want and no one cares because no one’s reading. You have no one to compare yourself to, no reputation nagging you, and you really don’t have to worry about managing people’s expectations because they have none. And there is so much freedom in that. Every time I’ve been in that position, I’ve realized very quickly, OK, I just have to talk about what I want to talk about and say things how I want to say them, and if I get less traffic, who fucking cares? Knowing people might not like what I was doing and writing about it anyway made me a more truthful (and therefore better) writer, and, really, just a better person.

Anyway. I hate getting meta like this — because my God, anyone who just started reading my blog is probably currently thinking, WHAT THE HELL IS SHE TALKING ABOUT?! — but I wanted to address what I felt like was the elephant in the room for a lot of people who have been reading my blog for a while, and who deserved an explanation.

And if you like the new look, all compliments should be directed to Holley, my wonderful designer. Working with a designer was really exciting. She took all the scattered ideas I threw at her, saw what I couldn’t see or articulate, and turned it all into something that made sense. I had a wonderful time working with her and I highly recommend her services if you need anything done!

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll be getting back to the business of my blogging puberty!