June 7, 2011

being afraid of yourself and why that's probably not a good idea

Way back in March of 2010 I made the decision to start taking my blog seriously.  Although I had been blogging casually for years my posts were often lackluster and few and far between.  So in a style very true to myself I went a little crazy on studying the creation of a successful blog.  I bought books, signed up for e-courses, took part in chat groups, maybe even considered a good luck spell from an Etsy witch.

When I was schooling myself in the art of blogging I  found a common theme to be professionalism.  Many top bloggers spoke on the importance of avoiding even the chance of offending readers.  Because tone can so easily be misinterpreted online it can take just one casual comment to set this community afire. 

Here's the thing.  I've spent a great deal of my life trying to not be seen as offensive.  I grew up in a conservative family and my belief system was often contrary to popular opinion.  I love my family and I'd do anything to protect them from worry or stress.  So if the problem was my values then I would remain a quiet believer.  The moral of that story?  I grew up believing that I, in my truest form, am an offensive person. 

So, when I first started blogging I was terrified of upsetting people.  In real life I can be crass; nothing makes me laugh more than a good poop joke.  At times I have a mouth so foul it could make a sailor blush.  I subscribe to political beliefs that many would consider liberal (I guess that's a bad word to some people too).  So when I started this site I tried to hide all of those things about myself.  I didn't want to run the risk of losing a reader or even potential customer.   At the time I thought I was just keeping it professional. 

It pains me to actually write that.  I honestly find it a little embarrassing to admit.  But there came a point in my blogging career that I just felt....fake.  Now, I never lied about who I am - a once-married and now common-low mother of the bastardly Georgia Grace.  But I did leave a lot out.  Most notably left in the shadows was my personality.  My stupid jokes.  My baking failures.  My bad parenting day.  The parts that made my life real.  I don't share everything with y'all (because seriously there are days that you might barf if you saw my bathroom/kitchen/bedroom), but I can comfortably say that you all probably have a pretty good idea of what I'm really all about (okay, maybe I'm actually a little bit funner in real life).

But when this phony feeling came on I had to take a real look at the problem.  The first big step in getting over this fear was beating down this monster that told me that if I was genuine people would turn away, hate me or even openly chastise me.  When I finally faced the facts I realized that I'm not actually as repelling as I once believed (and that maybe David Cross won't be hiring me as a writer any time soon). 

It wasn't easy for me to click the publish button on those first brave posts (posts that I would never even think twice about now).  But I can tell you with complete honesty that since I got over myself and started writing in my real voice I've had such an amazing and encouraging response to my site. My idea of professionalism was all wrong.  You don't have to be a blank boring slate in order to be reliable, likable, hardworking or successful.  

Now probably most of you don't worry that your true voice will provoke others to riotous proportions.  Maybe you just worry about your general likability.  If you can take just one thing from my lesson-learned please let it be to just try.  Just try speaking to people in your real voice.  Be a goof when you're goofy.  Be sad when you're bummed.  Be genuine and honest and real and I promise you will never find a better representative for your blog (maybe even your life).