Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Honest Editorial: Fighting Feelings of Obsoletion

As of November 1, 2015 we have been running this blog (on and off, successfully and unsuccessfully) for 7 years.

When we started there was barely any American Girl doll offerings on Etsy or the handmade market.

You found those things at holiday arts and crafts fairs. 

Usually made out of novelty quilting fabric by women who were born in the late 1800s (slight exaggeration), and with a design sense that every doll is Chatty Cathy.

But you didn't find them online.

And you certainly couldn't find stuff easily that wasn't from the Chatty Cathy Design Shop.

(Nothing against Chatty Cathy -- it's just not every doll outfit needs to look like that.)

I had been shopping at Etsy since its founding.

And then one day I had a lightbulb moment -- I have probably told this story before -- I asked myself, does anybody sell AG stuff on Etsy?!?!?!

(As I looked at the dolls spread around my living room, only wearing AG items and items my mother had handcrafted during my childhood.)

Some people were on there selling. A very small, small amount.

But there were even more people on the boards making stuff, selling there, and a couple people with private websites.

But overall, what we have today just didn't exist.

Lots of people made clothing, but not many sold them online.

And not many people even thought about doing that.

So the reason I created the blog was to serve as a tiny showcase of the handmade items I purchased, sprinkled in with the AG items, and a variety of other weird posts.

But mostly, it was designed to be a : 
"Hey! Look at this stuff you can buy online!!!" type of site.

But over time, and primarily (in my opinion) with the success of Liberty Jane's Pixie Faire pattern company --- combined with the overall growth of American Girl itself --- we now having a pretty healthy community of independent and handmade sellers.

But I think A) There can be more and B) More people need to know about it.

However, when I saw the explosion of Etsy shops, independent sellers, pattern-makers and sellers, seamstresses, designers, crafters, blogs, Youtube accounts, contests, giveaways, message board communities, etc, etc. I had a moment of: 

My job is done. I'm no longer needed.

Actually I had several moments of that.

Years of it even.

When you see everybody else doing the job you had done, only A LOT better, more efficiently, more polished, more professionally -- you kind of feel obsolete. No, let me restate that. You feel REALLY obsolete.

It was the same feeling about my crappy pictures, as I will discuss in Saturday's post.

People were taking much, much better pictures than me.

With nicer dolls, better outfits, more style, more perfection than I could manage.

What was my job anymore?

People were advertising Etsy items way more successfully than me.

What was my job anymore?

People were talking about how to sell handmade doll items, and how to make trendy items, to a much larger audience than I could ever reach with my tiny blog.

What was my job anymore?

I had gone from being one of a small amount of little fish in a tiny pond, to being that little fish in a huge pond filled with much, much larger fish.

Even the people I used to email back and forth with now didn't need me anymore to help promote them.

And I felt like no one was reading the blog anymore.

Even if they were, I felt like they weren't. Because I am Ms. Negativity+Anxiety.

I was obsolete. I didn't need to exist anymore.

So I often fell into the habit of buying a ton of stuff to photograph and review on the blog--hoping to stay relevant.

But with time, everybody was doing that.

And I started doing frequent giveaways and contests, hoping to stay relevant.

But with time, everybody was doing that.

I couldn't keep up.

And then people started making Youtube videos of all the AG stuff they bought.

And making a lot of money from those videos.

Nowadays if you want to see pics of the newest AG items, you go to Youtube and it is all there in all of its shiny glory, faster than you can say "Hopscotch."

So I became obsolete.

I couldn't make those videos.

I didn't have the time, the space, the money, the mental energy.

I couldn't buy all that stuff to review every time a new release hit the shelves.

I wasn't making any money from Youtube videos.

I wasn't making any money from selling things.

So where was the hundreds of dollars to buy that stuff going to come from?

That's not a normal household budget there, haha.

And where was I going to put all this stuff? My house was already full of doll stuff.

I could whine about American materialism, but really, I love the dolls, I love the company.

I can't whine about how people buy too much stuff and that they show it off too much, because I do the same thing. It's just what our society does.

Sure I was/am jealous of how much other people can buy. 

I would love to have what they have. 

But a lot of people feel the same way about my stuff. 

A lot of people don't even have one American Girl doll, and can only dream of owning one, because they have to like, eat and put a roof over their head instead of buying toys.

I often come back to the idea of: 

Enjoy what you have, don't take it for granted. 

Don't just always look to the things you don't have. 

Take the time to use what you have instead of always needing the new things.

And this is very difficult for us to do.

It is a simple concept.

But it is really difficult to embrace when you have obsessive-compulsive hoarding, collecting, and addictive behavior like I do.

And, of course, this is the exact behavior that American Girl wants you to exhibit -- they want you to want the new stuff! That's how you run a company, man!

Below I will talk about the general "you" -- I am not calling out "you" specifically, haha.

No finger-pointing, just a general "you," 
i.e. the people who have similar feelings to mine.

So in order to feel important, needed, and NOT obsolete -- you buy more and more new shiny stuff and show it off on social media.

But you won't be able to keep up.

I can promise you that.

And in the end, those feelings of obsoletion will persist.


Because of that lack of self-esteem I have talked about before.

You will never feel good enough, useful enough to others, worth something.

I know this is heavy stuff, but I also know I'm not the only one who has these feelings.

So to fight those feelings of obsoletion, you really have to go into your core and look at yourself and tell yourself that you are valuable, and worth so so much more than you will ever realize, and your existence has meaning. 

You are more than a doll or toy collection. 

You are more than the things you own. 

Those things are not what make you valuable.

You help people everyday.

(Even it is just scooping the cat litter boxes.)

Even without spending money on new shiny things constantly, you can still help people.

You can still be a part of this doll community.

You still have a purpose, even if you can't buy everything.

Because you shouldn't buy everything.

It's just not healthy.

And material things won't fill that emotional void.


I'm not good at listening to myself.

So I have to keep fighting these feelings of obsoletion everyday.

For now, I am trying to come up with new and creative ways to serve this community without spending more and more and more money.

Will I be successful?

So far I have faltered many times.

But I will never be successful at it if I don't keep trying.

So my advice, as my sister says to me, is to get out of your own way.

Turn off that negativity. 

Turn off the critical brain that says everything you do sucks and will fail.

Stop telling yourself you need the same things other people have.

Find new ways to enjoy the things you already have.

Look around at your current possessions for inspiration, instead of at things you can't afford to buy.

Turn on your happy music, sing along at the top of your lungs, dance in the kitchen with your cat.

You can rule your world.

Just move forward, working at it everyday.

Thanks for reading all of this whining!!!

Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comment section below. :-)


Ellie said...

Absolutely gorgeous post, and so true. And, if it counts for anything, you're not obsolete at all - almost 3/4 of the Etsy shops I know of I've discovered through this blog, and it's definitely my number one reaource for finding high-quality etsy shops.

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

Great post, as always. :) Yours was one of the first doll blogs I found when I first started my blogging adventures five years ago. I've enjoyed your posts, giveaways, contests, and recommendations through the years.

I think it's so easy as bloggers/doll collectors/anyone online to compare ourselves with others and feel overwhelmed by what we're NOT doing. I had to come to the point where I realized that I COULDN'T be anyone else but myself. Each of us have something unique to share. But I know it can be challenging and overwhelming when you think about the plethora of doll blogs and sites out there and feel like you have to offer something relevant and exciting to keep up with everyone.

Like you, I have a somewhat limited budget, limited space, and have not really figured out the whole blogging for income thing. ;) So I've dealt with some of these same struggles, and have to reevaluate things every so often to figure out what my blogging, collecting, and life goals are.

But overall, I think the best lesson I've learned over these years is to stop comparing myself to others and just do what I love to the best of my ability. ;)

Thanks for years of inspiration for a fellow doll blogger. Looking forward to your upcoming posts...which are NOT obsolete in any way. ;)

Candy S said...

Thank you for your editorial. I only recently started "playing" with dolls and posting pictures when I found out that my DIL was expecting my first very own grand daughter. After having raised four sons of my own I am thrilled to have a girl child in the family that I can spoil with dolls and other girly things.

You are right, many of us cannot afford the American Girl dolls or the lovely clothing and accessories that are made for them, but with a resource such as your blog we can see what other people are doing and learn how to create lovely one of a kind clothing and other items for dolls that we do have.

Please do not feel obsolete. You are appreciated!

thedarkeststar13 said...

I've actually missed your blog a lot, for what it's worth. And I agree with everything you wrote here 1000%.

Allie D. said...

Great message! I love your shop and this blog. :)

Allie D.

Lizzy D'Elia said...

I love this blog. I really do. :)

And you know, there is one thing that NO OTHER BLOG DOES (well, that I've seen). The Fashion Design Contests! I've been waiting at least a year for the next one, hoping and hoping that you haven't discontinued them. Have you? Well, I'll just keep waiting. ;)

Please don't give up on your blog. There is, and always will be, only one Maple. :)


Melody Silverleaf said...

Fabulous post!

I look forward to all of your posts. Even those you don't seem so fond of. This one was quite poignant. You're absolutely correct in saying we can't keep up. I look at my ever growing doll wardrobe and miss favorite pieces because I they don't seem trendy enough. I'm starting to get to a who cares point in my collecting - not in my blog.

Re-assessment is key. Look inside and see what makes you happy. Not all photos have to be perfect. Sometimes I get off track. Having fun is more important than anything. Have fun with your dolls and report those events. I know we'll enjoy reading them!

Farrah Lily said...

What a great post. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote and I'm sure others can as well! I really enjoyed reading your words and appreciate the honesty. :)

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