Joan of Arc, much like Hildegard whom we talked about earlier in this series, was a woman of immense talent during a time when such things were rather hard for guys to wrap their heads around. She was born a poor peasant girl, uneducated, headed for a rather non-extraordinary life. If you know your history, that is exactly the opposite of how she turned out. She turned out to be a brilliant strategist, a religious hero, a great debater, and a staunch defender of her king and country.
There are a few things you could pull from Joan’s story as you sit down to blog. Consider:
Don’t be persuaded that you’re wrong: At 17, Joan of Arc started trying to visit the dauphin of France. She wanted to tell him that she had had a vision that she was to help him become king of war-torn France. Upon her first attempt to visit the royal court, Joan was laughed out of the room. How would you react if a teenage girl from a poor family came up to you and said that voices had told her to do stuff? However, Joan was not discouraged by this reception. She relentlessly came back, wanting to let her dauphin know what her visions had revealed.
As a blogger, it’s extremely easy to be “laughed out of the room.” Especially if you are new, it can be hard to stand by what you say and think. Don’t let people push you to give up, no matter how influential they are in the online world. Hold true to what you believe and to what you are saying.
Create a new prototype: The Medieval world really didn’t know what to do with Joan of Arc. She was a woman and never pretended to be otherwise, but she dressed in men’s clothing and cut her hair short. This went against everything women were “supposed” to do. Certainly women couldn’t be great soldiers and retain the qualities of a pure woman at the same time. And yet somehow Joan managed to combine all of these traits. Not only that, but she became a great hero. There had been no one like her in any kind of memorable history, yet she did not let standards and guidelines suppress her.
As a blogger, it can be easy to look for a pigeonhole to stuff yourself into. You can try to blog like xyz blogger. You can talk about the same stuff as this group of bloggers. You can try to adapt a voice that’s like some other blogger you know. But there is nothing wrong with chucking all of the stuff that’s been done. Start with something new and uniquely you. Why not? You have a lot less to lose in doing so than Joan of Arc did in the 15th century, right?
Choose your allies wisely: In an extremely short period of time, Joan of Arc succeeded in liberating Orleans. Her dauphin, Charles, was crowned king (Charles VII). Despite all she had done for Charles, however, he quickly abandoned her once he ascended to the throne. He found her, perhaps, to be too militant while he wanted to make peace. Whatever his reasoning, Charles did not grant Joan more troops. She went off to attack Paris on her own, without his support. When she was captured, he did not try to rescue her.
Choosing allies as a blogger can be similarly risky. You may find that after helping someone find success, they quickly abandon you and pretend that their success is only due to their own efforts. While a “mission” and helping others is extremely important, self-preservation should also be in the mix somewhere. This is a lesson Joan had to unfortunately learn the hard way.
Don’t let other peoples’ smarts intimidate you: At the end of her life, Joan of Arc was put on trial before French clerics and scholars. They wanted to try to prove that she was not worthy of her heroic reputation. It would have been easier on them all if it had been proven that she was just crazy or otherwise unreliable as a heroine. Facing a panel of scholars might have convinced Joan from the start that she had met her match, but records show that she held her own, out-debating these men who had had so much more formal training than she. According to all accounts, she did not approach her trial as a meek underdog. She approached it as an equal.
As a blogger, there will be times that you will disagree with a person who perhaps seems smarter than you, who has more experience than you, who might have a bigger following than you. It can be easy, in these situations, to simply give in and abandon what you believe. After all, they know best. Don’t let other peoples’ smarts or experience intimidate you. Don’t let other people inspire you to believe that you are surely the one in the wrong.
Joan of Arc comes down to us as a one-of-a-kind woman who turned the tide of the 100 years war and reinvented how women could work in society. As a blogger, everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, has the opportunity to change blogging forever. You can make any kind of impact you want. You can leave a footprint as big as the one Joan of Arc left on France, if you want. Stand your ground. Believe in yourself and what you are doing. And don’t let anyone think they can defeat you.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anthea/281700306/ via Creative Commons