I can no longer say that I don’t have a boyfriend because I have the Nigerian Blog Awards! I’ve been staying up late with it, waking up early because of it, and buzzing with excitement over it. What else could it be but love? ;)
The Awards have always been a labour of love and in addition to the evenings and weekends I spend on it, I take two to three days off from work to make sure nothing goes wrong when nomination and voting periods are launched. But that’s the easy part. The hard part is facing my fears and going bigger with the Awards—that and dealing with criticism.
I live in fear most of the time: I worry about my parents’ health, about what the future holds. I’m a worrywart, even though it has never served me in a positive way. Christian or not, we know living in fear isn’t good—fear paralyzes, fear weakens, fear as an adult especially keeps us from reaching our full potential. The bible tells us that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-discipline. Quotes like “feel the fear and do it anyway” or “90% of the things we fear/worry about never happen”, are true, but I’m finding it hard to break the habit of fear.
So back to the Awards, which are in their fourth year this year. The numbers of bloggers and their fans who participate in the nomination and voting phases grows every year, which I’m so thankful for. But growth on other levels has been stagnant because of my buddy fear: fear of the financial cost has prevented me from moving to a live event sooner, though I’ve wanted to for a couple of years; I was afraid to build relationships with sponsors sooner than this year because I didn’t think we had enough to offer, which means the Awards aren’t self-sustaining; and finally going bigger means working with other people and that’s scary too! Some collaborations work but a lot of the time there can be misunderstandings, differing levels of commitment to the project, and disagreements about next steps.
Why am I sharing this? Because I’ve learned with this year’s Awards that when you step out in faith you will be pleasantly surprised. When you put yourself out there, it increases the chances that you’ll find people who believe in what you’re doing and who want to help move you forward. That’s the good stuff, but putting yourself out there also means you’ll get some crushing rejections. For the Awards, I contacted a bunch of potential sponsors and was rejected by all; only three or so actually replied to let me know they were not interested. There was a collaboration that I invested a lot of time and energy into negotiating, that fell through after what I thought was the point of no return, and this may happen again before the Awards are over. It was disappointing, but the lessons from the experiences will be SO helpful as I start preparing for next year.
Another difficult thing has been dealing with criticism. The Awards are not perfect and I welcome suggestions for how they could be better every year after the Awards conclude. It was critiques of bloggers who thought that basing winners on popular vote alone was not honouring the quality of blogging that led us to introduce judges last year. And over the past year I received several emails requesting the Best Movie Blog category this year so we have it. The Awards belong to the community so it’s important to consider feedback and look at the impact of changes on everyone, not just those making the suggestion.
Criticism that’s based on assumptions or beliefs that aren’t true is most frustrating—in the past, I thought the best way to deal with this was to reply with carefully thought-out responses containing proof and justifications but that never seemed to help, so now I read the the critiques, look for the constructive suggestion within, and keep moving forward, with the goal of making the next version of the Awards better than the last, and knowing that it’s impossible to please everyone.
Back to the title: I’m learning that the only way to face your fears is to take action and trust that whatever happens, good or bad, you’ll be able to deal with it. The only way to deal with criticism is to accept it will come and take all the good you can from it. This is nothing new, but I certainly need to be reminded of it!
How do you fight fear in your life?