Earlier this month, the New York Times Motherlode blog featured new research suggesting that blogging may make new mothers happier.
It got me to thinking about how this is also true for us denizens of Plan B Nation—and for much the same reasons.
The cited research—a small research study by Penn State Ph.D. candidate Brandon T. McDaniel—suggests that blogging counteracts new mothers’ feelings of isolation. It found a positive correlation between “blogging and feelings of connectedness to family and friends—which in turn correlates … with maternal well-being and health,” writes Motherlode blogger KJ Dell’Antonia (who, in another lifetime, practiced law with me, but I digress .…)
Feelings of isolation are also a hallmark of life in Plan B Nation—and one of its most dangerous potential side effects. Long-term unemployment, in particular, has been repeatedly linked to a downward spiral in personal relationships. Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton sums this up succinctly in his new book The Coming Jobs War: “People who have been out of work for 18 months or longer lose engagement in their network of friends, community, and families. The worst things in life start showing up when people experience extended unemployment.”
Speaking from personal experience (hello readers!), blogging can go a long way to help with such feelings. Two months ago, when I started Plan B Nation, I was in a pretty demoralized place. I’d been un– and under-employed for more than two years and was having a hard time imagining a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t really think blogging would help, but I’d been thinking about doing it for a while and finally took the leap. If nothing else, I figured, I’d at least learn some new skills.
Flash forward to today, and my whole outlook has changed—and largely because of this blog. Simply put, blogging about my story has transformed my relationship to it. It’s gone from being a source of suffering to being my subject. When I step back to mine it for material, I start to find it interesting. I start to see what it has to teach me (and how, in sharing it, I can maybe even help others).
And there’s a huge additional potential bonus to blogging in Plan B Nation: It can be a terrific source of paying work. That’s certainly been the case for me and—a quick Google search reveals—for many others as well.
Iconic blogger Penelope Trunk—if you haven’t read her, you should; you’ll either love her or hate her—is a big proponent of blogging as a career strategy. For doubters, she lists the following five reasons to embark.
1. Blogging makes career change easier.
2. Blogging lets you skip entry-level jobs.
3. Blogging opens up the world of part-time work.
4. Blogging makes it easier to re-enter the workforce.
5. Blogging builds a network super fast.
I can’t say everything in this post will be true for everyone, but for me, it’s come pretty close. (For more evidence in support, check out blogger Jen Gresham’s post on blogging as a career tool—part of BlogHer’s ongoing series on career reinvention.)
Will it be true for you? You’ll never know if you don’t try. (Penelope Trunk also offers tips on how to get started.) You might consider, as I did, that even if your blog doesn’t fly, you’ll still have learned a lot.
Need more inspiration? Try checking out other blogs that explore life in Plan B Nation. A few examples:
- Brett Paesel’s darkly hilarious Last of the Bohemians (about a family vacation to India in the shadow of bankruptcy)
- Wharton M.B.A. Sharon O’Day’s blog about women and money (which evolved from her own experience of starting over at age 53)
- From Prada to Payless (“The life and times of a once glamorous NYC fashion industry insider, to a mother of three girls, living paycheck to paycheck , facing foreclosure, and trying to find humor, and sanity in it all, while looking (trying!) deliciously chic in her Payless shoes”)
- Last, for a more general (as well as colorful) take on how blogging can help fuel connections, I point you towards this Old Hag post from the peerless Lizzie Skurnick.
Plan B Nation takes lots of things away from us, but it also fills our life with amazing (if painful), strange, intriguing, and unforgettable stories. The trick is to see them, to lean into them. Blogging can help with that.
Do you have a favorite Plan B Nation blog? Please share it in the comment section.
© 2012, amy gutman. All rights reserved.