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.
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.
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?