Every so often I have these days where I slightly freak out and panic. Not in an anxiety way. No, no, no. It’s not sinister. It’s kind of the opposite.
More like excitement. Intense. Scary. Exhilarating. Excitement.
Like a ‘holy shit the world is so big and how did you pull that off and how are you ever going to do it again or do all the other things or see all the things or be all the things or live all the lives you want to live?’ kind of excitement.
Unlike anxiety days, these occasions tend to hit when everything feels golden and fizzy. You know, those beautiful moments when everything somehow all fits together. You’ve found the next puzzle piece. Conquered the latest challenge. Collected the experience points and are levelling up, seeing the universe unfold.
Best feeling ever.
But then dear old brain steps in and whispers: hey, buddy, you know you’re just a tiny human and you still have this ginormous list to finish.
All you can do is reply, “Thanks brain.” Then maybe freak out about all the big things lying ahead of you for ten minutes before centring and reframing your worldview from your new, shiny, levelled up perspective and getting the hell on with whatever’s next on the list.
Well that’s the sort of state I’ve been blurring in and out of for the last couple weeks. Working towards a thing. Realising I’ve come further than anticipated. Losing my cool (not that there’s much of that). Refocusing. Deep breathing. Deep thinking. Repeat.
I’ve been trying to take more risks too.
Took a risk. It felt scary. Got a response today. IT FEELS AMAZING. Now something that was definitely impossible is possibly possible. 🙌✨🐣
— Harriet… (@TheScribbleBug) March 4, 2016
To contact people about projects I’m interested in. To meet with writers and thinkers and leaders I admire. To act on things that scare me. To do things I’d never have considered even a year ago. This in itself has pushed me harder, further, faster.
What muddles everything in my head is the spectrum of different projects I’m working on. There’s Career stuff. Book stuff. Personal stuff. Brain stuff. Tech stuff. Green stuff. And then all these break down into consecutive parts as well. To touch the tip of a mahoosive iceburg: Book stuff refers to stories, novels, editing, blogs, forums, writer friends and contacts. I’m not even sure that’s the whole list. Now apply that principle to each and every other category.
Yeah. Eep. And I know I’m not the only one. This isn’t just a ‘me’ thing. This is a growing up thing that a lot of us go through, a kind of Imposter Syndrome picking at our golden moments. Feeling elated and excited and expanded – like we’re progressing – is great. But as we start focusing on one thing more than another, we start letting other bits go, reprioritising. It’s not a bad experience, just a tad strange.
Personally, I’m beginning to think my minor freak outs are because looking at all my own disparate endeavours, I don’t understand how one person can hold everything together. Let alone how I can keep everything moving forward at the same time.
Where’s has my common thread gone? How do I resolve the writer who plots her would-be-first-novel every night with the girl who believes financial technology has the potential to be good for planet and pocket? How do I unify all the random ideas and opinions and interests?
One evening, not so long ago, I explained the exhilarated-but-confused feeling to a couple of my favourite ladies. They’re two of the most inspiring people I know in totally different ways but they both agreed that part of the issue seemed to be about personal branding, an identity crisis.
Cue: face palm.
Now I understand the value of branding. It’s part of my job. Creating an identity, defining the key terms and core values, perfecting the narrative – it’s central to what I work on day-to-day on a corporate level. However, the jargon that so often comes with it is something I could live without (and . Especially on the #PersonalBranding end. All the “CEO of Me” spiel makes me cringe. I’m a human. I have a life. I want to meet and talk and engage with other humans living their lives and being awesome. I don’t want to worry about whether my saying or writing or doing something is ‘on brand’. But equally I realise having a consistent voice and platform makes it harder to be forgotten, easier for others to connect with, more likely to be heard.
So what does this mean? Can I be interested in all the subjects and still be consistent? Can I be passionate about all my projects and actually finish all of them? Can I be writer, geek, generalist and still find an audience?
Honing my interests seems like it should be easy. In one way or another, I know that I’m already creating something of a brand through this blog (and it’s predecessor). Increasingly friends refer to me as ‘Scribble Bug’. Colleagues at work, contacts online, people IRL, more and more identify me with certain topics and issues and come to me with particular problems. I find this delightful and positive.
Yet at the same time, in certain spaces, it’s not exactly working. Trying to wear several hats on social media, for example, means that sharing too much about fintech confuses my writerly friends but vice versa if I’m waxing on about crime books.
Progressing in one area over another means I have to start recognising what I’m doing, what my voice says, what my ‘brand’ tells the world.
I know that using stories I can find a balance. That’s their beauty and power.
Still my little brain with its tendency towards curiosity and scepticism, that delights in finding things out and thinks everything can be interesting if only we dig deep enough, somewhat freaks out at all this. Because I reach a point where I’m all glowy and happy then realise I still have to reconcile with each new stage of my life.
I guess, either I can be an Eevee trying to evolve into a Flareon, a Vaporeon, a Jolteon, an Espeon, an Umbreon, a Glaceon, all at the same time.
Or I can just try to stay me, grow as me, see what my risks and efforts make of me. I guess that’s all we twenty-somethings can do though this doesn’t make it any less scary (just more exciting).
This is the Year of Gumption. But – admittedly – sometimes knowing what direction I’m riding would be really, really nice.
Want to read more about Personal Branding?
Here are some of the less waffling articles I read for this post:
Can Brands Really Be Our Friends? by Emma Gannon
And here are some blogs/site from people with pretty decent Personal Brands:
Who have I missed? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll keep adding away!