Of all the flattering compliments my husband has ever given me, my favorite came when we first started dating. He said, “your online presence is really hot.” I love how he immediately recognized that my online persona is not exactly the same as my real life self.
In 2008 when I was a younger version of myself, in a very different relationship, and completely unsure of my place in this world, I started a blog simply because I needed an outlet. I needed a place to connect with the Universe, try art, share art, and track my journey as a human being. By 2009 that blog turned me into a professional photographer and people were paying me to take their pictures.
Every year I got better. Better at taking pictures. Better at art. Better as a business owner. Better at branding. Better at communicating. And one thing I heard consistently, especially from my photography clients, was that they loved my writing just as much, if not more, than my pictures.
A metaphorical seed was planted.
2011 came around and I was so deeply invested in my photography business, which was deeply connected to my writing, which deeply influenced my identity. It sounds like a nice place to be but I started to feel burdened with the business of running a business because my brand was me. I was filtering myself in person and online to match the photographer/writer persona I built with that blog. I did not leave myself room for growth or change.
In 2012 I told a friend that what I really wanted most was a place where I could write about whatever I wanted without the pressure of what a client might think or feel about it. I wanted a place where I could say “fuck” and talk about sex and share vulnerable pieces of myself. The audience I built with my old blog was used to me telling certain stories in a certain way and I didn’t want to disappoint them or shock them in the wrong way.
And yet. But still. I couldn’t shake that little voice inside me that kept whispering, “GO!” Go do your own thing. Go take your own pictures. Go tell your own stories.
Jamie, go brightly.
So I did it. I created a new platform for the new me.
I closed my photography business and started a new blog. Some clients came with me but most of them moved on. I didn’t know who my new audience would be so I wrote for an audience of one – me – in hopes that there would be other like minded folks out there that I could entertain with my surprisingly insightful stories.
That was nearly 2 years ago and it was one of the best moves I ever made.
New followers and readers found me through friends of friends and Facebook. I’d meet friends of friends for the first time and just as I might start telling them a little bit about me, they’d say, “yeah, I know. I read your blog.”
What’s the word for feeling awkward, exposed and flattered at the same time??
This happens to me all the time. It happens with acquaintances I meet at a party, old coworkers, people I’ve never met in person, family I haven’t seen in years, friends lost along the way. They all know my story because so many of them read my blog.
I don’t say this to be vain or pump myself up. I say this by way of explaining that I’ve intentionally exposed myself in deep, meaningful, and frivolous ways on the world wide web so that the maximum amount of people can read my stories. I don’t actually want an audience of one. I want one plus everyone.
I find myself filtering again. My audience has expanded in ways that make me hold back. When my coworkers read this (and I’d be a fool to think they won’t or haven’t already because…#socialmedia #internet), will they judge me for sharing my sex life and daddy issues? Probably. Will they mock me behind my back about being a blogger and acting like I have any authority on relationships and creativity and life? #selfawareness
In real life, at my day job, I play the not quite socially retarded introvert. I share almost nothing personal and speak when spoken to. Standing in a hallway enduring small talk with coworkers is one of the most challenging things I do on any given day and I have to coach myself to stand there as long as possible enduring that social dance because all my reviews in the past few years have suggested that is an area needing improvement.
Does that sound crazy to you? You, who knows me as the bold over-sharer. You, who has seen me ramble on and on…
Erick is right. My online presence is extrovertedly (making up new words now) hot compared to my real life awkward self – unless you catch me in a small group or one on one setting where we can have deep and meaningful conversations…or I’ve had alcohol. I fear that the discovery of this blog by my classy coworkers will short circuit their first and lasting impressions of me and they’ll want to…talk about it. Ick.
One of my dear friends suggested I get a pen name and do some anonymous writing, but the whole reason I write is so that people will read what I write and how can I promote something that’s a secret?
No. I must be brave. I must own it.
When these stories pop into my head I need to get them the fuck out and hit publish already. Even when it’s scary. Even when it might not be good. Especially when it might be good. Dear Fear: fuck the fuck off.
We all have that one thing (or five things) we’re afraid to do. That thing that’s hard to do. That thing we’re not sure we’re worthy of. But it’s time to level up. When you level up you get new super powers. You get a bigger army. You get to be the hero. Life wants you to win at this game so if you were looking for permission or a pep talk, this it it. This is your soul speaking. Listen up.
The Universe is waiting to high-five you.