Thursday, 6 August 2015

On authenticity

I really wanted an image here of a quote from my all-time favourite book, Invisible Monsters, of the line "Rip yourself open, sew yourself shut" but there were all kinds of weird images on Google so I gave up.


Today I used the phrase "I'm just not sure that fits with my brand, you know."
And I kind of wanted to punch myself in the face.

I work in marketing. I understand about branding and tone of voice documents and colour palettes and everything in between.

But I was talking about myself. About my blog.
And I don't want to be a "brand."

I like to think I present myself pretty honestly on here. And I only read bloggers that present themselves in that kind of honest way too.

I don't read the blogs that present this shiny, happy, rainbows and cupcakes reality that we know just doesn't exist. I read the blogs that rip themselves open. The ones that are honest. The ones that are vulnerable. Those are the blogs I want to be like.

It's hard to explain this. It's hard to explain that sense of connection you experience from someone opening up to you and being vulnerable. I know it's hard to explain because I'm presenting a webinar this month for work on exactly that topic. It's just hard to put into words. 

I crave it. I crave that kind of connection. That openness. 

But it's scary.

I've blogged on here about breakups. I can't even bring myself to look through my 2011 archives to find it because I know it will make me cringe. I've blogged about car crashes and the deaths of family members. And I've blogged about those little bad days too. The bad days of running. The bad outfits. Those silly little things that get us down day-to-day that seem pathetic in the cold light of day. Or in my case, years later on my blog.

But to me, this is important. I want to be someone people can relate to. I can't stand the holier-than-thou health bloggers or the never-tired running bloggers or the fashion bloggers who never seem to run out of cash or wear the same thing twice. I can't stand this appearance that can't possibility be a reality.

I hate the idea of being someone that people can't relate to. I feel like I have two pressures. One pressure (or the many, hundreds, thousands of pressures), is to try to always be a better person, to always push myself more, to always do more. Half marathon? Time for a full marathon. 25 books a year? How about 50? Freshly cooked dinner on the table every night. Eating certain kinds of food. Giving blood. Going to the library every day. Singing in a charity choir. Being organised. Being good with money.

But the other pressure is to not seem like a complete tool. I don't want to be that person who seems perfect. Because bloody hell I am not even in the slightest. But I don't want people to think, oh, she runs marathons and gives blood and goes to the library every day. Who does she think she is?

I'm just another woman trying to have it all.

That's why I tell you when I have a terrible run. Why I tell you about the time I spent 2 hours after work making dinner and didn't even like it. Why I tell you that I can't run for a few days after giving blood because it makes me so woozy. Why I tell you that sometimes I go to the library every day because I feel like a failure if I don't read all my books before they're due back.

And back to the "branding" (shudder) thing at the start. I don't want to have to worry about presenting my brand. Because my brand should just be me. Exactly who I am. I have this joke that I have a complete inability to not be myself. In job interviews, meeting important people, meeting my boyfriend's family. I'm always nerdy and excitable and excessively organised and talkative and loud and tell boring stories.

I want to be authentic and I want to be relatable. I don't like it when I feel like all my most recent posts include sponsored items. But at the same time I absolutely love having these opportunities. I like that I've worked on my blog for nearly 6 years and I get stuff for free. There. I said it. I'm not going to pussyfoot around it and pretend that it's just about supporting great brands - and it is - but it is about getting great opportunities. I honestly never take any opportunities I don't feel that are relevant to me, and even when I do post items for review, I like to think I still present them in a way that is me.

On brand.

Whatever the heck that is.

And this kind of post is the kind of thing I want to write. Just writing what comes into my head. Not worrying about planning and worrying about not having blogged for two weeks and worrying about having nothing to say. Blogging because I-just-really-have-to-get-this-down even though I'm falling asleep at my laptop and Phil has already gone to bed and it's way past my bedtime.

Sometimes I just want to open myself up.

And hopefully someone, somewhere will feel a connection.

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