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22 January 2013

What I've Learned About Success

This last Friday marked that last day that BitchBuzz, the online magazine that I founded four and a half years ago, would be updated. We made the decision to shut it down for many reasons.

One of the main reasons, as I stated in my farewell letter, is that the market has changed, and the nature of the industry has changed. This online community of female bloggers and journalists is now very full and heavily saturated with blogs and personalities that are all trying to make it - get a book deal, radio show, press coverage - and this fashionable rat race has grown truly tiresome.

I've been blogging and writing online in various forms for going on 8 years. In those 8 years, I've seen what it takes to become a 'Super Blogger' - and it is just not for me.

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I've watched too many people I've really liked and respected go through the unfortunate transformation. One minute they're just a cool person with a blog, the next they're a self obsessed PR machine that views uploading words and photos of clothes (or food/crafts/work-out pants/lipstick) on the internet as some sort of cutthroat hunger game where only the most Instagrammed survive.

This community of what are all very similar women have created an intensely competitive atmosphere that is segregated in to factions - or Drama Ghettos, as I like to call them. The separation is surprising, seeing as we all have very similar origins.

At one point, all of us have worked at the same company, edited the same blogs, belonged to the same advertising agency, or (hilariously) written for BitchBuzz.

If I were to take the time to draw a map of this corner of the internet, you would be amazed by the incestuous, boring, comedy of it all. If I were to go a step further and add a colour code to show who is still talking to who, who fell out, who stabbed someone in the back or who unfollowed who or WHATEVER, you'd start involuntarily foaming at the mouth and develop a subtle yet distinct facial twitch.

I know that similar situations can happen in any industry or working environment. But there is something about blogging and social media that breeds its own kind of crazy... and it's usually carrying a leather satchel bag and a DSLR.

Trailblazing Coattails 

In being one of the first "founder and editors" of a lady website, I've learned quite a lot. I've learned that the problem with being first at something, is that you're basically demonstrating to everyone how it's done... and then everyone can potentially do it better than you. You can be a trailblazer, but that doesn't always mean that you're always going to lead the way. 

I've learned that being "correct" or "authentic" doesn't always matter. Doing something the best way, adhering to your all important values (feminist or otherwise) and sticking to a "slow and steady wins the race" methodology doesn't necessarily mean that on paper, you'll win. That you'll be the most attractive to PR. Or that you'll get the most Twitter followers, or have the most links on your press page or have as many bragging rights on your profile.

It ain't always easy being first or doing it yourself. 

Sometimes, golden opportunities are given to people who don't deserve them. Sometimes, you will have people befriend you, learn from you, and then create some horribly twee, bastardized version of your website behind your back, which you then only hear about via Twitter while you're away on holiday. Or something.

 

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I learned the hard way that it can be all too easy to become consumed by competitiveness. That push and pull. The finish line of a race that only exists in your mind.

But the most important lesson I've learned is that none of that really matters.

What actually matters is how you measure happiness. Happiness, not success. Because what the fuck is success without happiness?

The morning I shut down BitchBuzz I made myself a Good Earth tea, and on the little paper tag of the teabag was this quote from Booker T. Washington:

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome." 

The last four and a half years have been a success. When I look at the things I've done, the obstacles I've overcome both professionally and personally... how could I feel anything other than successful?

Competing with other girls on the internet is not a life. 

Needing to tell everyone how fucking awesome and badass you are for being you all of the time isn't living your life with confidence. Being an attention whore doesn't make you an inspiration.

I love the internet, I love online communities and I love online journalism. I believe in the power of social media and what it can do on a worldly basis. But I also know how it can infect the psychology of a community and become its own, poisonous apple. 

Your career and your success, your life and your happiness are only what you make it.

So, consider this an upgrade. 

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Cate,

I’m a huge fan of both BitchBuzz and CupCate! I don’t always comment but I always read...

You know what? I can’t begin to tell you how right you are! I started blogging in 2006, it was new-ish and exciting but now I find it all a bit blah. That’s not to say
that I don’t love blogging (because I do and it’s shaped my work) but I’ve definitely turned inwards. I’m not longer interested in being part of a blogger collective or having the approval and chase of a PR laden with gifts. It’s boring and it just not what blogging was all about.

Totally understand your decision to shut BitchBuzz (as much as I’ll miss it) but just wanted to take a moment and say that you are an inspiration. I look up to you and I wish you the very best with all your future projects!

x

Bra-fucking-vo!

Sincerely, all the best with whatever comes next, Cate. I hope it's less full of drama.

Cate, thanks for posting this and for always being so honest and refreshing. Like Rachael above I've been blogging in various guises for a long time and from the periphery have also seen a complete transformation in the blogger world. Like you, I have seen many people I look(ed) up to change not always for the better. Hopefully this will change and we'll find a good equilibrium one day, but who knows. I'd like to think there is room for everyone in the big world that is the internet and real life, the important thing is to just stay true to yourself (is that too much wishful thinking?).

I said it to you on twitter last week but thank you again for being a trail blazer and someone many of us really look up to. I wish you all the best for your new and exciting endeavours and hope you at least continue to keep us updated on here! Kat.

It's a pity to see BitchBuzz close, I loved it! But I undertand what you say Kate, both as a PR and a blogger. Best of luck x

Great post! I've been following your blogging since your days on Vox, and I've always looked up to you as a blogger. I appreciate that you keep it real and tell it like it is.

All the best to you! Fuck drama!

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