Blogging, man. It’s hard enough without having to worry about getting squished between the pressure to “be yourself” and the pressure to “be like everyone else”.
Stupid experts! Contradicting themselves! Gah.
Oh, it’s Tuesday again. Again! Which means it’s time for the latest installment — number sixteen — in our ever-lengthening Blogging Therapy series.
Which is kind of about blogging and mostly about working on stuckified patterns and giving them some love.
You don’t need to have a blog or be a writer to be here. Or care about the world of blog.
And you definitely don’t have to have read the other posts in the series. Though if you’d ever like to, they’re right here:
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Part 6. But I’m not an EXPERT!
Part 7. Don’t make me be vulnerable!
Part 8. I just don’t have the time!
Part 9. What if someone READS what I wrote?
Part 10. But I’ll never be popular!
Part 11. De-shouldifying.
Part 12. A bunch of questions.
Part 13. Finding your voice.
Part 14. Worry. Worry. Worry.
Part 15. Learn from my mistakes.
Whew. That list is getting kind of insane.
Okay, on to some Useful Questions and a bit of philosophizing that totally has a point.
“How can I ‘be myself’ on my blog when I feel so much pressure to do what other people are doing or advising me to do?”
Here’s what happens when you do what everyone else does.
You stop being you. And whatever you were interested in starts losing its appeal.
Right now just about everyone is listening to the same experts … and they end up doing mostly the same thing.
The result being, of course, that most sites and experts sound exactly the same.
At this point in the game, not following expert advice is probably the smartest thing you can do.*
*We can talk more next week about why you shouldn’t listen to anyone, even me!
“But I want people to take me seriously.”
That makes sense. You’re saying you feel anxious that if you let too much of yourself into your writing, people will judge you or think it’s unprofessional? Is that right?
I get that. It is a pretty terrifying idea.
Here’s what I think. There are so many places we can get information online. There are so many people just giving it away.
Which means there’s choice like crazy. As someone who actively consumes information, I can get it from an absolutely mind-boggling variety of sources.
I could learn about stuff like marketing and copywriting from a gazillion different people. But I’d rather learn from Naomi because she’s my kind of nutjob. She’s super smart and outrageously funny.
And just kind of outrageous. Like, in general.
“Hmmmm. I don’t know.”
Will some people run away from Naomi as fast as possible? For sure. But the rest of us are devoted fans. Which means that she’s allowed to have fun in her business.
And really, if you can’t have fun, you might as well go back to (shudder) working in an office. Or, in my case, at a bar. Because you’re never getting me in an office.
Sorry, I got distracted by my rant.
Here’s the point:
The more you you are in your writing, the easier it is for your Right People to say yes to whatever you’re teaching or offering.
If your people can choose between an insane amount of experts (and they generally can), chances are they’ll go for the one who has a personality.
“But I don’t have an obnoxious curse-ey personality like Naomi or a kooky yoga lady personality like you and Selma.”
Good. That would be boring.
It’s much, much better if you can be yourself.
Having a personality (or letting one show) doesn’t mean you have to be loud or boisterous or goofy or anything, really. It just means that some of your you-ness gets to be present.
You’re giving it space to exist and to breathe and maybe even to thrive.
Again, you’re just making it easier for me to say yes to you if I can tell you’re different from the wall of experts.
Yeah, scary. And yet, being different from everyone else has done nothing but help me.
Even though everyone said that I shouldn’t tell anyone that my business partner is a duck because apparently that’s weird or something.
When you try to sound like everybody else, you’re not in resonance with yourself.
The energy is wrong. Something feels false. Cognitive dissonance like crazy. And people will pick up on it.
When you let yourself sound like it’s actually you, that’s where the resonance comes from.
Yay, resonance. And when you’re in resonance, everything you write will be interesting. And real.
And you know what? People will be drawn to that because a unique, authentic voice is just about the sexiest thing in the entire world.
Then, when the kind of people you actually like are showing up, and you’re feeling comfortable, you can start figuring out what they need to receive and what you need to give.
The main thing is that you’re feeling like it’s you. Sure, you don’t have the false safety of the biggified expert cloak.
You have something better than that.
Obviously being all yourself and everything out loud is a scary and uncomfortable concept.
So you don’t want annoying buzzwords like “vulnerability” and “transparency” and “authenticity” to become Shoulds that bully you into exposing more than is comfortable.
It’s really about taking the time to notice, “Hey, I’m needing to feel safe and supported here. What can I do that will help me access some of that safety without having to wall myself off in boring expert-ness?”
Because yeah, we don’t want you to end up being so protective of your true voice that you become some boring expert clone.
And at the same time, of course it’s important to feel safe and supported and loved. Everyone needs shelter sometimes.
Finding that safe space.
My wonderful friend Mark Silver talks about “veiling the Jewel” — the idea is that you uncover a beautiful quality that informs all your work and then you create a safe place for it.
I thought this was incredibly cheesy the first time I encountered it, but working with Mark’s stuff has been really transformative for me.
Anyway, the deal is that you want to let your unique Quality of fabulous you-ness shine enough so that your Right People can be drawn to it, but you also make sure you can veil it when you need to.
That way it’s not like you’re feeling so vulnerable and open that you can’t function. That’s safety.
Feeling safe is a big deal.
Creating structures and routines and rituals that help you feel secure is probably the smartest thing you can do in your business, if you have one, and for sure in every other part of your life.
So I’m not saying that you have to — tfu tfu tfu — be dragged kicking and screaming from your comfort zone. Heaven forbid.
I’m talking about creating a safe place from which you can speak your truth. Your truth to your people. The ones who are ready for it.
Another damn paradox.
So really the whole authenticity vs safety thing is kind of a false equation. There’s just no reason for it to be one or the other.
I’m convinced that the conscious practice of being yourself out loud — in small doses, paying attention to what comes up — can actually end up being the thing that helps you create that safe space for yourself.
How crazy is this? Your unique voice is its own form of protection.
So it’s a bit counter-intuitive, yeah, but there is also safety in being different.
There can be solace (and not just fear) in knowing that there isn’t anyone else saying what you’re saying in quite the way you’re saying it.
Sometimes — for me, at least — it feels as though I can even take comfort in the very act of setting up this space for me. For me.
There’s a lot of light in that space. There’s room to breathe. And there’s freedom in telling the experts where they can stick their expertise. Or at least whispering it inside your head.
Yeah, that’s our topic for next week.
Tomorrow, partly cloudy with a high chance of goofiness.
Next week we’ll be back to Blogging Therapy and a bit of a rant. Glad you’re here.