I’m reminded — whenever I check-out what savvy and talented people are doing with their websites — of what a slacker I am. When it comes to using social media to promote my own brand, words like ‘non-existent’, ‘vague’ and ‘unfocused’ come to mind. It’s a lack of confidence that holds me back. Scrolling through sites and postings from hundreds of people engaged in what has to be consistent and intense effort, I feel intimidated. I’m too willing to let the ‘experts’ show me how it’s done. Full transparency? I’m already in deep, in terms of handing-over my authority . I fall hard for 5-star reviews. I auto-focus on the most Views and Likes. (As though either or both had the power to magically transform my life.) Yep — I’m consciously aware of being on the receiving end of good branding….instead of delivering that myself. But given the truly huge amount of high-quality content online, creating a unique, relevant and impactful presence or ‘brand’ might involve a little more — for me — than focus and determination.
During in-person conversations with friends, I get a sense how many of us rely on that steady feed of what others are doing, saying and thinking. Self-expression brings hesitation. Do I say what I think, even if I come off as ‘ignorant’? Are people going to fact-check my knowledge of an event, product or service? Being in-the-know, having access to the most updated information about ‘whatever’, has become a kind of social currency. A way of measuring someone’s value-add to our daily experience. Is your site worth my time? Are you worth my time? Turns out, everyone seems concerned with promoting his or her personal ‘brand’, in one way or another.
As I think more about this, I recognize the subtle ways in which my own inner guidance system gets tweaked from time to time. My inspiration. My creativity. My desires. My motivation. My productivity. Whenever I compare my progress (pick a category!) to others’, I get pulled off course. My self-expression loses the clarity and certainty of my hard-earned wisdom. I don’t even need anyone else to do it: I’ll “check” myself; limit myself; impede my own positivity and growth, by not valuing my own innate ‘brand’.
When I feel like that – distracted by so much external input that I start deferring way too much – I turn to ancient wisdom. As she offers her own interpretations of the poetry and philosophy of Rumi, author Alana Fairchild always brings me back to where I need to be. In her essay, “The Courage of Your Love”, I’m reminded that in our world today, Self-Love is pretty much always under attack from a variety of negative influences. Fairchild compares those influences — often our own self-talk, but also sometimes negative people and situations — to “wolves circling” our inner peace. The wolves – fears, insecurities, doubts — will always be there lurking. When I stop honoring who I am and what I offer, they move in closer.
The Internet is an amazing and wonderful tool. I’d never want to return to the time when I didn’t have access to so much instant information. But as I wander around in it — feeling awkward at the moment — I realize that Fairchild’s “wolves circling” can inform my choices. In just the same way that I respect and appreciate actual wolves — from a distance — I recognize my lack of status and vulnerability in the ‘wild space’ that is social media. Anything can happen here if I’m not paying attention; it’s both exciting and terrifying. Whether or not I ever dedicate myself to creating an effective internet presence remains to be seen. Meanwhile, my goal for the New Year of 2021 is to keep living more bravely. And right now, that means traveling with more Self-Love.