Don’t Feel Guilty If…Your Readers Expect More From You Than You Do

by Bess on February 22, 2012 · 7 comments

We all know that blogging creates a community, and, accordingly friendships (and in some cases, rivalries). And sure, as a blogger you may choose to reveal personal information that might spark readers to offer you advice/inspiration.

But sometimes you might find yourself feeling like your readers have more grandiose plans than you about your fitness performance/race time/wedding proposal/labor/ability to lose the baby weight, etc.

The blogger says she’s not in a rush to lose the baby weight. The readers leave 300 comments saying she’ll lose it in a month! She can do it!

Sound familiar?

We say? It’s totally acceptable to admit that while you are flattered that your readers have so much confidence in you, you are more comfortable at setting a lower bar for yourself.

Yes. You heard that correctly. We’re saying it’s OK to set the bar low. We actually think that maybe sometimes setting the bar too high in an effort to impress readers is what leads bloggers to push themselves way too hard. They run the risk of harming themselves and setting an unrealistic — and, again, potentially harmful — “normal” for all their other readers.

How To Let Your Readers Know You Have Lower Expectations Than They Do

You could politely ask if they have body-switching abilities and that, if so, you would be happy for them to spend several hours in your skin to run that marathon or pop out that baby for you. That way, when they are telling you “You can do it!” you can respond, “No…you can do it! For me!”

Another viable option is to remind your readers that regrettably your name is not Siri and a verbal command isn’t enough to ensure completion. (If that were the case, Henry Cavill would be my live-in pool boy.)

There’s also nothing wrong with waiting until after the big milestone happens to discuss it in detail — specifically how well the outcome did or didn’t dovetail with the expectations you had for yourself. Take our blog buddy Dori for example. She candidly discusses her emotions after she did not finish her first marathon, only to surprise her readers by secretly completing a marathon the following weekend. By choosing to wait until after that race ended to enlighten her readers about this feat, she didn’t have to feel bound by others’ expectations or worried about letting people down.

The thing is, readers typically mean well. But sometimes their well-meaning encouragement can push a blogger to commit to a goal she knows deep down isn’t right for her. If we want bloggers to blog responsibly, we also must examine how bloggers can encourage people to read and comment responsibly too.

Have you noticed that readers can be extremely, uh, optimistic when telling a blogger she can hit a goal? We’d love to hear more suggestions for how bloggers can say to readers, “No. Really. I can’t do that. It would be harmful for me to try.”

Do you admire when a blogger admits that her individual standards are lower than what her readers expect of her? Or do you think bloggers should push themselves?

Let’s discuss!

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Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans February 22, 2012 at 1:25 am

I think that a blogger has a responsibility to herself to set standards/goals that are achievable regardless of what her readers want for her. Supporters tend to want the best for you but their version of “best” isn’t necessarily realistic. It’s easy to type “You’ll run a marathon after 3 weeks of training no problem!!” but a hell of a lot harder to fathom doing it yourself. People just don’t always make the connection. So the long and short of it is there is not shame in saying “Thanks for the love and the vote of confidence but I’ll stick to the original plan to run that marathon in 8 months”
Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans´s last post ..An Open Letter to Khloe Kardashian

Dori February 22, 2012 at 1:56 am

Thank you for the reference! This is a great post, Bess.

You don’t realize when you announce your goals that lots of people suddenly become invested in you. When I realized that I was probably going to have to drop out of the marathon, one of my primary thoughts was that everyone tracking me would see the times slow down and eventually stop. They would wonder what happen. I would have to share the news on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. And that is exactly what happened. As much as running in so much pain sucked and as disappointed that I was that I could not finish this one thing I worked so hard for, the added pressure of knowing SO many people had faith in me succeeding made it that much worse.

In conclusion (this was an essay, it appears) I agree that it is OK to set the bar low. Obviously I could finish a marathon, but I honestly don’t know if I can hit this new time goal I have for a half marathon and I know I will get lots of people telling me they know I can do it. But then, if I don’t? I don’t need that added pressure.
Dori´s last post ..A Follow-Up

Laura February 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I’m actually not sure I agree with this one – but I think a lot depends on the type of readers/commenters you have, as well as your own personality. I frequently use my blog as a source of accountability to push myself to the limit, but:
a) I don’t have a mega blog with tons of commenters
b) The bar I set for myself is usually much higher than anything my commenters would tell me to do

When it comes to an an injury situation, like Dori’s, I think you have to know yourself and your body and trust that you’re doing the right thing. (Given how supportive blog commenters tend to be, writing about dropping out or not reaching a goal tends to result in a spate of “it’s okay; you’re still awesome!” comments anyway.) But when it comes to occasions where you’re giving up on yourself too easily, I find it helpful to push myself by reminding myself that I’m going to have to tell people how I did – and wanting it to be something I’m proud of.

At the same time, being proud of myself doesn’t necessarily mean sticking with a race where I’m going to get hurt – it just means making a good decision with the information I have available to me at the time. I’ve been plenty proud of myself when I DNFed a race and was able to own that decision on my blog.

Laura´s last post ..I am an everyday runner!

Miranda @ Biting Life February 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Wow, this post was so interesting! I like that you touched upon something that probably a lot of bloggers have to deal with – yet it’s something I’ve NEVER heard anybody talk about before! I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment like that before, but I’ll definitely remember to keep my “over-optimism” in check in the future 😉
Miranda @ Biting Life´s last post ..Ash Wednesday

deva at deva by definition February 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I tend to set my bar pretty low so I’m not disappointed in myself, but at the same time, I set it high enough that I know that I’m doing the best with what I have. I try not to leave the “you can do it!” comments, because I know that in some of those situations, I certainly COULDN’T do it – like train for and run a half marathon in four or eight weeks, or lose ten pounds in four weeks,
deva at deva by definition´s last post ..Vlogging Half Marathon Training: Week Seven

Marry Brooke April 16, 2012 at 5:44 am

From our perspective, as readers, is just letting the bloggers know that we truly believe in them. It’s the reason why we keep telling them that they can do something than discouraging them. We just don’t want to be rude! :)
Marry Brooke´s last post ..MSDSonline Management Partners with ICG Group, to Acquire MSDSonline from Existing Investors

ali June 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Well I can’t blog like an adult quite yet, but I’m working on it! Thanks for your post. I really enjoy them. I just started a blog based on my daily workouts and meals. Feel free to check me out as well!

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