Be a Genuine Shining Example of Yourself
Earlier this year, although it already feels a lifetime ago, I started this blog with the aim of sharing my personal experiences, triumphs, maybe a few mess ups, and lessons learned as a freelancer. Baring your soul online can be excruciating which is why it continues to be an evolving skill for me.
There’s this thing called “authenticity” which I find quite frankly offensive because it has been used with reckless abandon in a business and branding context for the purposes of profit and gain. As a concept it makes sense: speak to your audience in a way that comes naturally to you and is no way contrived. Make no claims that you can’t back up. By trying to be authentic, you can often end up being the exact opposite. There are too many examples to mention, but Pepsi is a good go-to. As a brand, authenticity is a minefield…. but I’m not going to get into that here as this is meant to be about me! See, I almost fell into that old trap again. As an individual authenticity could be even more dangerous in that it can elicit overthinking, in trying to put your Best Self forward, the truth or actually your underlying motivations and feelings are still left under wraps.
Anyway, I relate better to the word “genuine” because to me, being genuine cannot, by definition, be planned and orchestrated. It can only be what is real. Whereas authenticity can be constructed in a way to give the “right” impression, how it wants to be perceived, what it thinks will attract more followers, fans, purchases. Genuine just is.
So back to this blog I started, it was one of many actually that I have began and abandoned over the years. It was the first one where I wanted to share a more personal side to being a freelancer. But I was still trying to prove something, put on a brave face, not expose real flaws or even personal examples outside of a work context.
Now I’m taking a chance at peeling a few of the skins back from the onion and seeing what I can learn from myself and all the people and experiences I’ve had and continue to have. To value everything that has happened and what’s still to come. It’s part of this recurring word that I keep coming back to: to be “deliberate”. To take actions in a wholly conscious way. To do a few things consistently and with purpose. And that’s why I’m speaking this post aloud, because if it doesn’t roll off the tongue easily, then it can’t be genuine.
There’s been two things that have moved me to be more truly honest and genuine and they both happened very recently and within weeks of each other. My dear grandfather’s death at 91 and my 40th birthday. In conjunction they have had a marked effect on the way I see my life right in this moment. Or more accurately, those two events have energised beliefs and values from within me. A lifelong friend wrote in a birthday card to me “you have always been a genuine shining example of yourself.” That is the good and the bad (and perhaps the ugly!) truth that every single one of us lives every day. There is nothing more self empowering than that.
But for now let’s keep it simple FFS. I want to tell stories that have taught me something or made me think. Perhaps you will relate or it will help you in some way too. And that would be a lovely side effect.