A Hiatus and a Reflection on Pressure and Expectations

The time has come for me to take a little break from Pop! Goes The Reader. Not a particularly long one, mind you, but this is something I feel I have to do for myself. For a little while now I’ve been struggling with feelings of stress, guilt, and a general sense of feeling overextended in nearly every aspect of my life. While I can’t help but worry about the impact this hiatus will have on Pop! Goes The Reader (loss of momentum, loss of followers, etc) I’ve realized that I need to focus less on the needs of others and things I have absolutely no control over and more on what is best for me.

Thanks to my friend, Casee Marie over at Literary Inklings, I recently read an interesting article entitled “Why the Word “Should” Can be Harmful and 3 Empowering Alternatives”, which you can find Here. Upon finishing said article, I came to the rather difficult conclusion that I do many things out of a sense of obligation rather than desire. I “should” post five days a week. I “should” write at least two reviews every week. I “should” read a certain number of books in 2014. This constant sense that I “should” do something that I wasn’t presently doing was both destructive and a constant source of unhappiness in my life. I found myself focusing not on what I was accomplishing, but on what I wasn’t. Even now, as I write this, I’m struggling with these same insidious thoughts. “Who are you to complain or need a hiatus? You’ve only been at this for nine months! Think of the bloggers who have done this for years without needing to take time off.” Well, enough is enough.

Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t love blogging – I do, truly! That said, there are moments when I struggle with the same issues that many bloggers before me have discussed and grappled with. The pressure to ‘keep up’ and ‘compete’. The fear of failure and not measuring up. The disappointment I feel when I fail to meet the often impossible standards I set for myself. All of these feelings have been building for the last two weeks or so, and have had a noticeable impact both on my life and on my blog. Recently I’ve found myself in the midst of one of the worst reading slumps in recent memory and those I do read I feel no desire to review, no matter how much I may love them. I find myself uninterested and listless and even the smallest chore seems like an impossible task.

So, I’ll be taking a little time off to reflect, re-examine my priorities and to (hopefully) rediscover my love of reading. I want to remember what it’s like to read in a vacuum and simply enjoy the experience, as opposed to feeling as though I must immediately record and analyze my every thought and feeling. So wish me luck, friends. With any luck I’ll be back before you know it, rested, relaxed, and more ready than ever to do what I love most in this world: Discuss books with the people who love them just as much as I do!

15 Responses

  1. All the best Jen! I know exactly where you’re at; I just came back from an unplanned several month-long hiatus. But it was exactly what I needed! I had lost sight of why I had started blogging in the first place, and like you, was not longer doing it out of desire but out of obligation.

    We will all be here for you, when you come back. I can speak to this first hand – this community is AMAZING and will be nothing short of welcoming and encouraging, once you’ve found that thing you’re currently missing.

    Kelly recently posted…Love-A-Thon Letter to YourselfMy Profile

  2. It’s hard to step back from the blogging world and take some time for yourself, but if you’re not happy with the way you’re doing things or why you’re blogging, then you need to figure out what will make you happy.

    All the best and lots of blog love 🙂
    Cassie G recently posted…13 Little Blue EnvelopesMy Profile

  3. I’m so glad you’re taking the time to wind down and relax. I’ve learned after a year or so that if you keep trying to please everyone, it will never be achieved because you can’t please everyone. Blogging can be so competitive sometimes and I wish it didn’t happen, but what can ya do?! I hope you’ll come back refreshed and relaxed and ready to read!
    Giselle @ BO-OK NERD recently posted…Book Haul Unboxing: Book Nerd Mail #62 – The Valentine EditionMy Profile

  4. Take all the time you need! You need to focus on what’s best for you. Your friends and followers will be here when you get back. 😀

    For me, it’s not “should” that causes anxiety. It’s “have to.” I often get stressed out because of all these expectations I put on myself. I have to post a certain number of posts and reviews or I’ll feel bad about it and get distressed, which is not a good thing to feel. It’s good to take a break and reevaluate the way you do things. <3
    Cee recently posted…XOXO: Fangirling about Romances | DebutMy Profile

  5. This is so beautifully written! I read your blog regularly, but often don’t take the time to comment (I’m bad about that — trying to be less of a silent lurker!) But this post just spoke to me. I had similar sentiments last year, and actually contemplated throwing in the towel. As a new mom, I just didn’t have the time and energy to devote to making my blog what I wanted it to be. After a lot of thought, I realized that I was trying to make my blog what I thought others wanted it to be. I was stressing about posting reviews, stressing over keeping up with my review pile, when really I should have been just enjoying those rare moments that I could read (especially when I could actually keep my eyes open to do so!) My plan now is to just do what I want and not worry about anything. I read what I want, post when I want and it brought back the love of blogging for me.

    So, in a very roundabout way, let me just say that I know just what you’re going through and I think that a break will do you a world of good. It’s nice to take the time to just step back, reevaluate and then come back with a fresh perspective. And, fear not, your loyal readers will be waiting when you return =)
    Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads recently posted…Life of a Blogger – Plans for the FutureMy Profile

  6. I’m proud of you for making this decision! It isn’t easy, for whatever reason (probably all those pesky ‘shoulds’) so I’m excited for you to take your time and reevaluate what’s going on in your life and putting what builds you up first.

    Lisa recently posted…Review: Ignite MeMy Profile

  7. I commend you for making this decision. I respect you for looking out for YOU. I will miss your presence, but I understand. There is no reason you should feel that blogging is an obligation or a chore. Sometimes taking a step back to regroup is just what a reader needs. Our love for books comes first – but you can’t maintain that love with all the pressure.

    I do hope to see you around. I will miss your face! But I don’t want you to stick around only because you feel you should.

    Lots of love from your fellow readers!
    Jenna (@jennadoesbooks) recently posted…Three Blog Tour: Review + GiveawayMy Profile

  8. We all understand and we’ll be waiting when you get back. ^.^

    Jen, I know what you’re going through and I’ve felt it so many times. There’s always pressure to be better than others, or at least do the produce the same amount of work as others, but in the end, blogging is for ourselves. Why make yourself unhappy? It took me a while to realize (and I don’t think I’m completely at peace) that we can’t all be the same and we don’t have to be. How terribly boring it would be to be the same person and how terribly dystopian.

    Try to find things that make you happy and if stats are worrying you, try to only check on them once a week/month. I haven’t checked my stats in a while, but you know what, I don’t really care that much about them.

    This was a terribly beautiful post and I’m happy that you were able have the courage to walk away from blogging. If you ever want to talk, feel free to. 🙂
    alice-jane recently posted…Review// The Longings of Wayward GirlsMy Profile

  9. I think we’ll be here if or when you wish to return. You deserve time for yourself.

    Posting really needs to be about wanting to because you want to and not because others want you to. Have a great hiatus and do everything you want to do.
    Jill recently posted…Happy Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  10. I hope the break works out for you! And of course us older bloggers don’t think you’re silly for taking a break nine months in. Do what you need to do! I’ve always said that people should blog for themselves and not for other people, and sometimes you just need a break. We’ll still be here when you get back, and I’ll still be commenting several days late, so nothing will change! *hugs*
    Amber @ Books of Amber recently posted…Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger and a ReaderMy Profile

  11. Sometimes, taking a step back and taking a break is just necessary. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of “shoulds”, especially in the world we live in where competition and doing your best are often granted the most importance. I’m glad you’re taking this time for yourself, and hope that you enjoy your hiatus and come back refreshed, inspired and ready to blog again!
    Alexa S. recently posted…The Lavender Garden – Lucinda Riley (Review)My Profile

  12. Firstly, I relate to what you’re going through SO much. And you put your thoughts together beautifully; I hope just writing that out was helpful. Secondly, I’m glad to know that article made a big impact. For the last year or so I’ve been trying to apply things like it, to “stop the glorification of busy” and take time to fit the things into my life that are important to me regardless of the “shoulds”.

    The thing about blogging (and the internet in general, I think) is that we expect ourselves to do so much! I was a fashion/lifestyle blogger for a few years before I started Inklings so I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take stock in some of the lessons I learned over that time. It helped me to get over checking comments and analytics and focus more on my end of the connection, the blogger-blog connection. But it hasn’t made me immune – sometimes I can only get to one post each week (which is always the new releases post) and I’ll go red with frustration for a bit. But just a bit. Then I tell myself to let it go, remind myself to breath a little easier; I still have every right to be a blogger even if I didn’t get as much done as I would’ve liked. As often as we’re told about the “shoulds”, that a blogger “should” post X times a week and “should” spend X amount of their day on social media, what it comes down to is that your blog is your creative outlet and any creative project, to be most enjoyed, has to be fed by inspiration, not obligation. I still haven’t found a way to juggle two blogs and all that comes with them, but I’ve realized that my biggest productivity-sucker is social media and my biggest inspiration is getting off the computer – whether I’m doing a creative project like adding to my inspiration board or getting out and spending some time in nature. It took me a long time to figure out what was helpful and what was hindering, but I think when they eventually reveal themselves it gives you a little boost of “you got this” confidence. (: Good luck to you, dear! No stress, kick the shoulds to the curb and delight in some good stuff!

  13. I just wanted to say that I think we’ve all felt like this at one point or another. As much a blogging is just a hobby, I do sometimes succumb to the pressure of posting and getting through my review books. I recently sat down and thought about what I wanted my blog to be and decided that I just wasn’t going to let pressure or guilt get to me anymore. Period. My blog is my hobby and that is all I want it to be. I’ve felt much, much better about my blog since allowing myself to view it in that manner. I hope that you do come back soon and that your hiatus gives you the break you deserve.
    Natalie @Natflix&Books recently posted…Weekly Rewind 2.22.14My Profile

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Jen is a thirty-something Canadian book blogger and bibliophile currently residing in the wilds of suburbia. Aside from a penchant for older men, particularly those with the surnames Firth, Elba and Norton, Jen is also passionately interested in running, Mad Men, and Marilyn Monroe. In addition to being a voracious reader and self-proclaimed television addict, Jen is also an aspiring children and youth services librarian who would like to pursue a MLIS and better help readers find the perfect book for them.