I read a post from a friend of mine a couple weeks ago. He wrote about the importance of living your truth. More specifically, being your whole self and not sacrificing basic tenets of who you are to better fit in with the majority or be accepted. This article resonated with me for a few reasons, but most notably the approach to my personal brand and my audience. More specifically, how people perceive me and what they expect from me. I even thought thought about this here blog and the people who read daily or subscribe. If you’re here, you’re here for a reason. For some it’s the career advice, others the motivational pieces, and a smaller group the occasional writing advice.
As you know by now, discussing careers and personal development are two of my specialties. I can write about these topics easily because they are passions. But there are also a lot of other things I enjoy, like food, reality tv, and shows like Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards. I also love joking around and making people laugh, checking out the latest in tech, and engaging on social media. These are all aspects of who I am. Yet, sometimes I’m fearful of what talking about them here could do to the audience I’ve built. Will readers get confused and unsubscribe or stop visiting because they’re no longer getting all career tidbits? Will my tribe abandon me? Would it be like resetting and starting from scratch? (I hope not, because ain’t nobody got time for that.)
This isn’t the first time I’ve run into this issue. For the bigger site I run, I stopped writing partially because I felt like my style and my interests weren’t what the audience wanted. It became tiresome worrying about if an article would be well-received. Writing went from something I loved to a burden. My passion became a bane. I felt like I couldn’t be my true self and it weighed me down to the point of resentment. Uncool story, bro.
For my previous personal site, which I maintained under an alias, I left that in the dust because I graduated from a persona known for dabbling in dating and relationship talk to the person you find in front of you today. I felt like I couldn’t shake the brand I built as long as I operated under that name. Well, that and it’s hard doing business under an alias and having multiple business cards like I had split personalities.
I recently realized I’ve recreated the problems I had before. Of course it’s my fault for being so wrapped up in giving people what they want and struggling with “staying on script” versus being spontaneous as I normally am, and more importantly, true to myself.
Yesterday morning I was sitting on the couch putting on a sock when I found myself pausing. I called out to boobookins, endearingly referred to as Nose…because I like it, expecting her to read my mind as she sorta normally does.
“I think I’ve recreated the problem I had before with my blog.”
She knew exactly what I meant.
“I mean…the site is called I Am Rich Jones. You don’t just have to be the career guy. Talk about what interests you. The people who follow you follow you because they like you. You don’t have to be a one track brand. Stop worrying about who will stop reading and worry about the ones that stick with you because of who you are. Be your full self.”
That was a bit of a paraphrase, but my memory isn’t as sharp at 8am as it is at noon. But regardless, the advice and encouragement was exactly what I needed. I have to free myself of self-imposed restrictions and assumptions about what people want from me. Because if I don’t, I will keep landing where I am today; progressing, but uncertain if I’m moving toward the right things even though I see positive results and feedback from those that read along and keep me going.
Oddly enough, this goes back to a theme I picked up (and dropped) a long time ago: my journey toward freedom. That means a lot of different things. Freedom from my insecurities and assumptions. Freedom to think creatively and produce work I love, regardless of how it’ll be perceived. Freedom to operate as I wish without concern for money. Freedom to be happy.
I think freedom is something we all crave, but we see it differently. Maybe that’s the underlying theme that matters most. Maybe that’s how I can tie this all together under the umbrella of me. Not just talking careers, but also sharing other things that are meaningful to me and will hopefully provide some type of value to you. So I think I need to get back to that. I feel happier already.
I’d love to hear what freedom means to you. Share your thoughts in the comments or, for my subscribers, hit reply on this email and let me know. It’d be cool to post some of the responses I receive, since you’re right along with me for the journey. Looking forward to what’s to come!
(Also, let me know if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and what you learned from it.)