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Pleasure and Pain turns 3

Three years ago, I was feeling stagnant and purposeless. I wasn’t happy with the direction of my career and I didn’t know what to do about it.

Without a clue what it was, I joined Twitter, and three days later I started this blog. January 10, 2008.

This is a tough day for me to be reflecting on the three years — wow, three years — that I’ve been publishing this blog. I’m having an off day. It’s cold, I’m hungry, and to be perfectly honest, I’m filled with discontent. It’s a unique mix of pleasure and pain that I’ve grown far too accustomed to feeling.

When I started this blog and made small movements towards gaining prominence within the user experience community, I felt like I was on top of the world. It was such a pleasure to be heard, trusted, and cared about. It became like a drug, making me feel powerful and high. Every time someone shared one of my links or offered their thoughts in the comments, my heart skipped a beat. When the traffic receded, so did my pride.

Over the years I have occasionally found myself writing posts because I knew they would get attention, not because I particularly cared about them. I wanted to ensure that I stayed top of mind, for the health of my business, but also for the health of my ego.

Quite frankly, I don’t want to live for other people’s approval. I know what I’m good at, what I have to offer other people, and what I need to improve upon. Being showered with praise temporarily muddles all of that. It gets you to start believing you’re good at things you really have no business doing. And when the buzz dies down, you realize no one has the power to change how you feel about yourself.

This blog has been an incredible outlet for me to share myself, work out my thoughts, attempt to help others, and be a record of my personal and professional journey. But fear has held me back from saying a lot of things that I needed to say, and self-importance kept me writing when I had nothing to say at all.

Once again, I’m ready for a change. Starting now. I want to get back to what I was trying to do here in the first place: get better. Not seem better, not feel better, but actually be better. Learn more. Share more. Do more. Help more.

Thank you for everything you’ve given me. I hate to ask for anything more, but I have to. I need your guidance, not your praise. I hope you’re willing to share it, and I can promise to do the same.

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  • http://techkik.com Amrita Mathur

    Whitney, I like how you say you don’t want to live for other people’s approval.

    I know exactly what you mean. While site traffic, comments and shared links make us feel relevant; they can also enslave us. If your core business is not benefited by this blog, if your life’s purpose it not being fulfilled by this blog and if you are able to live, work and love normally without the help of this blog – then consider yourself lucky; because you are a free spirit at any time of your choosing.

    Keep up the great work and continue to share. Best wishes for 2011!

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  • http://lifenbloom.blogspot.com/ Jo Hellhake

    Whitney,

    I started reading your blog last night. It’s brilliant. My husband is a UX designer and attended An Event Apart in 2010. He recommended I check out your site to learn more about blogging as I’m just getting started. I just wanted to say that the fact that you’ve been consistent for 3 years whether you had something to say or not is inspiring. I too, struggle with people’s approval when I post a blog but I’m learning to get over the fear. Have you read Seth Godin’s Linchpin? He talks a lot about the fear we face in a creative field.

    Anyway, I appreciate your honesty and will continue to check out your site on a regular basis! Your stats will never be able to measure the amount people that have been completely inspired by your work.

    Best wishes to you!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      Wow wow wow! Thanks so much for the very kind comment. I’m thrilled your husband put us in touch (who is he?). If there is anything at all I can do to help you along your journey, don’t hesitate to let me know. As for Seth Godin, I’m a big fan!

  • cm

    “But fear has held me back from saying a lot of things that I needed to say, and self-importance kept me writing when I had nothing to say at all.”

    Thanks you for writing that.