I can remember the first time I fell neck deep into the blogging industry’s obsession with perfection.
I was sitting in my flat in the UK, with This Renegade Love still in ‘private’ mode, not yet unleashed unto the world. I had spent months creating content to load up the site, working back-and-forth with my designer on the branding and aesthetic. I wrote day and night, researched hours on end, took thousands of photos. Finally, the design and development was done. The project was complete. I was so happy with how it had turned out and so proud of the work I had done. All I needed to do now was hit ‘publish’ and it would go live.
But all of a sudden I started to think of the weight of putting myself out there online, thinking of the people who would be looking at it, the people that knew I had quit my great job to chase this pipe dream – old colleagues, Facebook friends, family, other bloggers. I had spent so much time promoting its launch, that I had raised the expectations to a place I now feared was too high. I froze. I couldn’t do it. I started telling myself that it wasn’t ready, it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t as good as the other blogs out there. So, instead of launching it, I spent weeks obsessively scanning the pages over and over again, rereading each post, comparing it to other blogs, and editing tirelessly.
When I finally did set it live after friends and family prodded, I became fully immersed in the blogging industry, hungry to grow my brand – and at the same time, the thirst for perfection grew with it. My brand was a reflection of me, and ‘me’ was now online for everyone to see. Each week I trotted around Toronto, heading to blogger events and parties, making sure I was perfectly pleasant, overthinking every word I said and smiling until my face hurt. I would spend hours on social media, looking for the spots that all the ‘cool’ bloggers were going to and making a point to head there on the weekend and take a Snap. Even outings with friends became nothing more than an excuse to get that perfect Instagram shot – perfectly edited, perfectly posed and perfectly timed. No creases, blemishes or stray hairs allowed (not much conversation either).
This was the routine week in, week out, and once brands got involved and started paying me for partnerships, the pressure to appear perfect became overwhelming. Then a new wave of bloggers swooped in, and the competition flourished. On the outside, I was happy and beaming, but inside I was lost, frustrated and teeming with self-doubt.
I hit a wall after that initial year of growing TRL. I burnt out. I became exhausted with the pursuit of perfection, fed up with plastering on a smile for people I didn’t really care for, tired of creating sugarcoated content for fear of ruffling any feathers. This wasn’t the reason I had quit my job, wasn’t the reason why I wanted to launch a brand about Renegades. I had always prided myself on being strong and opinionated, and I hardly recognized the person I had become – I realized that if I didn’t stop chasing perfection, I would lose who I was entirely.
So I had to learn to let go. To stop striving for perfection and instead, embrace imperfection – those snippets of authenticity, the specks of reality and the rewarding feeling of creating something that reflects your true self without giving an ounce of a fuck what anyone else thinks. I began writing for myself and the people I wanted to attract, started talking about the shitty days, photographing the real moments, and standing up for something even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. I quickly learned that it’s better to be relatable than aspirational – that at the end of the day, people are more drawn to authenticity than exclusivity. That most women would rather see a photo of me in a bathing suit with cellulite than airbrushed thighs. And that no one (not even Beyonce!) is perfect.
I’m now creeping up on two years of This Renegade Love and it’s exactly where I want it to be. I’ve written pieces that spark conversation and encourage debate, and have taken photos that evoke emotion and tell stories. I’ve cultivated a community of people who are interested in what I have to say, not what a brand asks me to. I’ve stopped being afraid of what the industry will think if I speak out on certain topics, stopped being scared of people talking shit about me. I’ve gone back to connecting with people because they interest me, not because they can offer me something.
But most importantly (and most liberating), I’ve learned to let go of this unrealistic idea of perfection that thrives within the blogging industry, and in the process, have found my way back to me. And I’ve gotta say – that feels pretty fucking perfect.