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Blog Exercises: Who Do Others Think You Are?

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Today’s blog exercise was inspired by Kathy Holmes in her post, “Who are you today?

Lorelle’s “What Makes You Special?” blog exercise links to “Who the Hell Are You?” and both got me to thinking, not only about who I am, but who I am today and who people perceive me to be.

Some people who have met me online may think of me as that Disney girl or a girl who wears flip flops and writes novels set on cruise ships or some other fun locale. Because I’ve posted about Disney and Mickey ears and cruise ships, they *think* they know me. They think I wear ears to the parks, they think, well, I don’t know what they think really because they often make surprising comments showing they really don’t know me at all. Like when I posted about enrolling in a music class at UNLV one person said, “This is surprising.”

No, if she really knew me, she’d know that music is my first love and furthering my musical education isn’t surprising at all. We’ve never met – how could she think she knew me enough to say that? (Scratching my head over that one.) She obviously doesn’t read my blogs either, because my regular readers have probably picked up on my love for music.

I’m also not the same person I was when we left the San Francisco Bay Area, embarking on a journey that took us to Oregon (3 times), Ohio, Florida (twice), Las Vegas and back to the Bay Area. They say you can’t go home again and one reason is that the people from home will continue to see you the same way and expect you to behave the same. Not happening. I can’t be my old self, denying what I know and what I’ve experienced. That is just too painful – I know, I tried.

She goes on to share the various “parts” of her life that defines her in different ways, a bonus round for an audience eager to know their blogger better. She is helping them learn all the pieces that make the puzzle that is Kathy Holmes.

I could have titled this blog exercise “If you really knew me,” but I want to go deeper. I want you to explore the labels you are given as a blogger and expert in your subject matter that define your personality. I want you to see where you start and end, and your blogging personality fits.

There is the you you know. The one you carry around with you every day. Every day you play various roles as parent, child, family member, worker, employee, boss, hobbyist, writer, artist – many labels we give ourselves at any moment to define our roles and responsibilities. There are those roles, then there is the you you know, and from this is created the blogger, the person the reader sees between every pixel on your site.

Who do they see when you blog? Who do others think you are?

In previous Blog Exercises you’ve been asked to share your personal and professional story, from explaining what you do, why you do it, and what you are talking about, to making mistakes and sharing the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

In this blog exercise, you are to share the labels, descriptions, and assumptions others have about who you are and what you do on your blog.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to blog not who you are but what others think you are.

“I just tell people you are a writer,” my family members tell me. “I have no idea what you really do for a living.”

It is as if the fact that I’m a professional blogger, web publishing, context strategist and consultant, and adjunct for two colleges, author of several books, and the fact that I specialize in WordPress isn’t enough of a title for them. Or the fact that I publish more than 1500 articles consisting of 400 – 2,000 words each every year consistently for more than 25 years isn’t enough of a job description to satisfy and impress. They just sum my life’s work up as “Lorelle is a writer.”

Such external labels are humbling, but more importantly, it’s information. It tells you, and others, what they think of you and what you do. After years struggling with my family’s perception of me, I’ve come to embrace the joy of being called a writer. There is power in that title. I own it.

We all have a dichotomy with our personalities. There is who we are in one bubble or circle, and another that describes who we want to be. We’re always in a tug-of-war between the two, who we are and who and where we want to be as humans.

Chart with two bubbles - one for who I am, the other who I want to be. In the middle is what I let others see - by Lorelle VanFossen.

Stuck in the middle where the bubbles should overlap is what we let others see. Some people live with their two bubbles so far apart, they barely overlap, keeping the reality of who they are and who they want to be nearly separate. This makes for a controlled existence, hiding your real self from others.

Others live a WYSIWYG life, where literally they are who they think and say they are and everyone knows it. “That’s just Andrea. That’s just how she is. You gotta love her in spite of herself,” is often said with a giggle and shrug.

The key is to make the two bubbles overlap, yet there are moments when we don’t want everyone to see us as who we are, thus we struggle between the two.

Your blog exercise is to introduce your readers to the overlap, to what other people see when they look and judge you. That’s what they are doing. They are evaluating your skills and abilities and putting you into a labeled box.

It’s important to come to terms with these. For Kathy Holmes, she felt inadequate, more than a sum of the assumed parts of her life. For me, what others label me surprises me.

What about the labels the world gives you surprises or change you, the you that you know you are when you blog?

Blog about this? Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

11 Comments

  1. Posted August 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just checked and learnt about the explanation of WYSIWYG. Am I the only one who didn’t get this acronym? Always learn something new with Lorelle.

    • Posted August 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get.

      It’s a long-used acronym.

  2. Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Acronyms are very difficult for non-native English readers. I picked up GSOH, WLTM when reading lots of Lonely Hearts adverts 10 years ago (trying to learn English). I even struggled with common ones such as RIP. Even an English learner at the proficiency level would find acronyms hard.

    Acronyms can be useful(eg, DNA), but can also be annoying. You either know them or not know them.

    You may want to read A Ban on Roman Letter Acronyms? by Language Log, and FYI to CCTV: No English Acronyms – China Real Time Report.

    The modern Chinese language is also thriving with new abbreviations and acronyms, some of them using the Latin alphabets. ChinaSmack has a list of the Glossary for your enjoyment.

    • Posted August 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the information. I do my best to avoid them as a habit, but some slip through.

      Regarding this post, have you given some thought to how others perceive you and how it is different from who you really are on your blog? I’d love to hear more on that subject from you! You have such wonderful insights.

  3. Posted August 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, this task is pretty difficult.

    Because my topics have changed over time, people who visit my blog at different phases would make assumptions about me (the virtual identity) differently. No, I don’t know what others may associate my blog (my identity) with, and maybe they are slightly confused, and I’m a bit scared to find out actually.

    You mentioned about focus, purpose and filtered lens. I feel that it is like packaging a product, creating a brand. It’s what you reveal about yourself and what you want others to see. However, readers have their interpretations.

    If I understood you correctly, do you think as a blogger, we are to narrow the gap of blogger focus and readers’ perceptions?

    On your Venn diagram, I’m not sure about what you mean about ‘Who I want to be’ — is it the outcome of a blogger?

    • Posted August 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      As a blogger, a serious blogger, you are a brand. You are the product. You are the reason people link to your site. You are the reason they come back for more, often bringing their friends. You are the rock star, the celebrity, the one with the fan-base.

      Thus, it is important that you understand how others see you on your blog. It helps you to define that product, the character, the persona you are when you blog. The more clarity you have on who that person is, the better your blogging.

      If you wish, you could narrow the gap between who you are and what others see, but that is up to you. Some bloggers are kind and sweet people but they blog as if they are beasts, nasty humans, challenging our thinking and arguing all the time. Others are beasts in reality but blog as angels.

      The key is exploring your persona on your blog. Who are you when you blog, and does that match what you want others to see when they read your blog.

  4. Posted August 28, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I do love the beauty and the beast analogy. Thank you.

  5. Posted August 28, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I just wanted to let you know I’ve mentioned you in two posts. I am so grateful for the advice I receive in my daily reads from you but I’m also appreciative of how you went out of your way to teach me something when I opened up my comments. Thanks so much! You’ve been a big help and true inspiration, Lorelle :-)

    • Posted August 28, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Odd, I got one of your trackbacks from an earlier post but not these. Thanks for letting me know. You are wonderful! Thank you!

    • Posted August 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      I figured out why I didn’t get the trackbacks! I played detective!

      You linked to the dot com of my site not a specific post or Page. Trackbacks are not generated to the front page of my site only to posts and Pages.

      So thank you for coming by and telling me. I might not have known otherwise. Mystery solved. Thanks!

    • Posted August 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Oh! Oops. That’s my bad, lol. That makes sense. Good thing I came by to tell you :-)


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