I originally wrote this for Linkedin, not for anyone to read, it was just for myself but that’s what most writing is for me in the first place, it’s my way to release the tension and be free of it.
When you are telling a friend about your last date, or explaining to a coworker what happened in the meeting you are telling stories. It is how we frame our world, it is what much of the media both true and imagined are founded upon.
When I went to school for advertising account management story was a big part of it, you learned about the basic forms of narrative, introducing the situation, the escalation of the crisis and then the resolution at the end.
Reality is a long hard slog, it involves a lot of struggle, frustration and boredom with the occasional moment of joy and bliss. A well told story helps to stripe reality of the parts that are uninteresting to the average person, you can travel minutes into the future or decades into the future in just a few words or pages or entire books.
Story in advertising is about evoking a connection with the audience that engages them in the message, brand, product or whatever. In news, you tell a story with the facts to educate and inform the public and often times in today’s world, a lot of time it is used to frame an issue or subject in a very specific way to influence people.
That is the power of storytelling which can be both good and bad. We can tell the story but it is up to the person reading or consuming it and their own perspective that will determine what they take from that story or whether they will read it at all after the first little bit of it.
When people brand themselves, often it is taking their own story and giving off a certain vibe that they want to convey. I remember working for someone doing SEO and they were 2 or 3 people in a small office for a few months but their website and their address made them look like they were much bigger.
I think I used to worry about all that in my own story, when I was looking for work, what would people think of me since I haven’t had a job in years? Or even before I started traveling how would my fragmented job history look to an employer.
You have to own your own story, don’t allow anyone else to tell your story because only you can tell it, give it context and make people understand it for better or for worse. Maybe that’s why I don’t like personal branding, I could never see myself as a brand and I’ll admit that is probably a mistake professionally but since my professional self is so fragmented anyway then what does it matter.
It is especially funny for me to stay this on a job website but I think I am so far away from the world of work that what the hell. You want your digital self to give the person reading especially related to work a positive impression. I don’t have that, there are any number of things that someone can look at that will make them run for the hills.
That means that my ability to find a normal job is somewhat compromised and although I could try to change that or hide it I want to embrace my faults as well as my strengths. I don’t want to be a brand, I’d rather be a person faults and all on Linkedin or my own blog where I write for myself not for others no matter how damning that can and will be to me.
This isn’t the only approach I can take and it may change in the future but its the one that is the most honest, the one that feels right. It means my chance of getting work shrinks but I’m OK with that, with what it means and who I seek to become even if I still just at the beginning of that journey.
There are 2 stories I seek to tell, one in a world I crafted inspired by every science fiction, by science and every story I’ve ever read and then their my my story. The one as a writer, a traveler trying to become a better version of myself. To find a way to matter, to do more than survive but to thrive in spite of every setback, every doubt but to do it anyway not to prove anything but because I can’t not do it.
I hope that each of us can set safety aside, to take risks, to go out there and see how far you can push yourself. To evolve is to get uncomfortable, it means you have to be uneasy and be open to learn. Without that how can you expect to rise to the occasion after you’ve gotten knocked down several times, because you will often.
So I can’t be a brand, I am just me, just a writer trying to find my way and looking to tell stories maybe no one will read it, maybe it will be horrible but it is worth the risk to tell either way.