Is it a Community or a Competition?

*Editor’s Note: This isn’t necessarily a post about The Hunger Games, however, I will be citing a few highlights, so here is your spoiler alert if you’re one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t consumed all things Hunger Games… get your ass in gear: go read the first book NOW!!!* 

After absorbing all 3 Hunger Games books and then in-patiently waiting for the hubs to finish the first book so we could snag a sitter to see the incredible movie… competition has been on my mind lately.

I related to Katniss in The Hunger Games immediately. The way Katniss did everything she could to take care of her family when her mother sort of “disappeared” after her father died. Yup. That’s me. All the way. Well, both of my parents are alive, and I didn’t have to become a sharp-shooting hunter to get food on the table. But when I was still considered a kid, as the oldest of 4 girls, I took care of my sisters as my folks became increasingly absent. I also questioned authority, bending the rules when necessary, much like Katniss. 

The strict rules in District 12 and the lack of rules in the arena, where life & death is on the line (never go against a Sicilian… oh wait, different movie) made me shutter. I don’t think I would’ve been a survivor if I was a tribute. Sure, back in the days when they made allowed us to play dodge-ball in elementary school, I’d be one of the last girls standing because I was shockingly good at dodging the ball… I wasn’t one to throw the balls hard enough to knock anyone out of the game.

But I was competitive enough to know my strengths and what I did & didn’t have control over.

I could dodge the ball, so I focused on that.

Sometimes I’d win, sometimes, I’d be stuck with that super competitive kid jerk in class who always threw the ball so hard he’d cause welts. 

My competitive nature is not a trait I particularly enjoy; I’d prefer to be a team-player. So I do what I can to fight my perfectionism & competitive traits when necessary. 
Sometimes, I feel that parenthood and even blogging has turned into a competition. 
When it comes to parenthood, I feel many of us struggle with invasive questions like:
  • How long did you breastfeed? 
  • How old was your child when they were out of diapers? 
  • Did you use disposable or cloth diapers?
  • Can you get your child to eat anything without throwing a fit?! 
  • How young was your child when they first started reading?
  • Can your child ride a bike without training wheels yet?
Every one of these questions gets my blood boiling. Sometimes in a positive way, but depending on who the person is that is asking or answering these questions, you may be in for a compare/contrast/my child is better than yours/I’m a better parent than you face-off. Hell, some of these issues are completely up to the child, and not even in the parent’s control! But for some reason, many parents feel the pressure to be “the best” on the block. Which is impossible. 
On the same level, the community of bloggers I know & love also face similar issues, like:
  • How many pageviews do you generate on your blog/month?
  • Why did this post get 20 comments and that post get 0?
  • How many twitter followers do you have?
  • How much money do you make writing?
  • Do you have enough likes on your FB page?
  • Have you earned a sponsorship to a conference yet?
  • Have you been invited to this, that or another sponsored party?
  • Klout score! I need your Klout score or else you aren’t worth shit!
Hell, I want to host a twitter party soon, but I have begun to loathe those, as I feel completely drained by the end of the twitter-party-hour. Trying to keep up with twitter parties aren’t easy, and most of the time, I feel like it’s more of a competition to see who can come up with the cleverest tweets the fastest. In all reality, twitter parties were started as a fun way to connect with other bloggers/tweeters. But it’s not fun when you feel like you have to push & shove your way through it just to earn a $25 prize or a couple extra followers.

When did the community of parents & bloggers turn on each other? 
And why? 
Aren’t we all here to help each other? Speak what you want to say without the negative judgement? 
At least, that’s why I started blogging. To get out my experiences. To document my crazy reality uncensored. They may not always be the “best” experiences. They may not even be the funniest experiences… but they are my experiences.

What worked for me may not work for you.

That goes for parenthood and blogging. 

We are all struggling with something. Some of us are trying to wrap our brains around SEO, or find a sponsorship to a writing conference or two. Some of us can’t get our kids to eat their veggies… some of us struggled with potty training… some of us can’t say no to their kid (please, do us and your kid’s future peers/co-workers/friends a favor and say no sometimes, seriously). Some of us were blessed with easy babies who slept through the night almost immediately. I have 2 kids — my first born didn’t sleep through the night until 14 months. My 2nd? 6 weeks. First born didn’t nurse well at all; 2nd nursed for nearly 2 years. Both of my children ate whatever we put in front of them when they started eating solids. Now? Don’t get me started. 
Every child, even within the same family, is different. 
Every parent is different. 
Every blogger will have varying degrees of failure & success. 
Parenthood & Blogging may seem like The Hunger Games some days: just doing whatever you can to stay alive. But just like Katniss trusting RuePeeta… or even Cinna for that matter. We all benefit from a community of friends who can keep us in check, helping us do the best we can… instead of judging or competing with you. 
Do yourself and your fellow community of parents and/or bloggers a favor and surround yourself with people who support you. Who won’t judge you. Some of us can find the strength to look our competitors in the eye and hold our own, saying what we feel. Others hide behind a computer and write about these issues. 
There are situations where you may have to do both.
From my experience, the negative trolls in your life, parent or blogger, who only want a fight, who may only be looking for “the win” aren’t worth your time. Instead, focusing on your personal strengths as well as spreading positivity around the community that embraces you may be the only way to rise to your personal best and become the Mockingjay you were destined to become.

At some point, you have to stop running & turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.  — Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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  1. Posted April 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    WINNING!!! I actually quit following a particular blog on FB because the other moms always made me feel like I was doing it wrong. Never mind that I can guarantee that my situation is 100% different from theirs, it irritated me how superior they seemed to be at everything. I know some parents who did nothing for their kids and they turned out to be awesome people. I know some parents who did EVERY THING for their kids and they are the worst people you would ever find the misery to be around. Do what you can, hope for the best, support others who are in the boat with you, and let’s all try to survive these little gremlins.

    • Posted April 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Whether it’s online or off, the “superior” parents out there bug the crap out of me too, and I have also stopped following a few bloggers who are like that. I’m sure we’ve all had those moments, where we’re proud of our kid for this, that, or another thing. But it’s one thing to speak with pride, and it’s another to brag excessively and turn it into “my way is the *best* way” type thing. Drives me to drink.

  2. Posted April 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Amen sister. It’s like you took the words and thoughts right out of my head. I’m so sick of competitive parenting and blogging. At the end of the day don’t we all just do it because it’s what we love? Is it really about how many followers you have or how many months you were able to breastfeed? It’s sad. We’re all just parents and writers trying to do our best and express ourselves. Right? I know I would never survive the arena cause I handle this competitiveness by ignoring it and surrounding myself with like-minded people like yourself. Oh yea…and I pour a little wine or beer on it!

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Alexia!! The comparisons are tough. I’m guilty of doing it to myself… I’m probably my worst critic. But when I get loaded questions from people who are obviously looking to one-up me, it strikes a nerve for sure. That’s why I, too latch onto people like you & other awesome folks who are simple writing to share their own experience, without a competitive agenda. To quote a Radiohead song… You can try the best you can, you can try the best you can. The best you can is good enough.

  3. Posted April 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I think in parenting and in parent blogging it seems difficult for women to play nicely in the sandbox. I think each of us making a concerted effort to be positive and uplifting with one another is a starting place.

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    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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