I don’t know what it is about where I come from, but there seems to be this mentality that anyone who uses a platform to express themselves is; vain, stuck-up or embarrassing. Why is it ’embarrassing’ to want to follow your passion? Why is it ‘showful’ to put videos of yourself on YouTube? Why are we made to feel bad about ourselves for wanting to actually do something with our lives and maybe be recognised for it?
When I first started blogging, I was incredibly embarrassed and awkward. I didn’t tell a single soul from home about my blog, only strangers on the internet. I felt like I was too much on display if I was to share my thoughts with anyone from back home. Even now, I still don’t share my blog posts on my personal Facebook unless I think they’ll be of interest or want people from home to read them. It’s quite a vulnerable feeling, putting your thoughts out there for everyone to read and dissect. But the reasons for doing it, much outweigh the reasons not to do it.
Any time someone brings up the subject of my blog in person, I squirm and completely change the subject. I’m mortified to even talk about it. “Blog? Me? Sorry, don’t know what you’re talking about.” Even worse when my lecturer wants to have a conversation about it in front of my class – cue me sliding down my chair and onto the floor.
I’m also not going to sit here and pretend that I’m a saint and that I don’t judge people either. We all judge others, whether we mean to or not. On appearance, what people do for a living, their aspirations, the type of person they are, their choices – all of it. I won’t say it out loud, but I’ll be thinking about it. And I know people judge me for everything I do, my appearance, the clothes I wear, the topics I write about, the pictures I post, etc. But I can’t stop people from judging me or talking about me (I learnt this a very long time ago) so I just keep doing what I love to do.
People are going to talk about you no matter what you do, so why should you waste time worrying about it? I could write a status about donating to charity and somebody would scoff and say, ‘Who does she think she is? Mother Teresa?’ We’re a very cynical bunch in NI. You can’t do right for doing wrong, put it that way.
I haven’t gotten over the fear of putting myself out there online and in the real world, but I’m not as embarrassed as I used to be. Here are some tips as to how to get over that ‘morto’ feeling.
1. Keep thinking WHY you’re doing it
Do you want to help people? Influence people? Inform people? By putting yourself out there, you’re offering a service. You should aim to be beneficial to other people.
Whether that’s by showcasing cool pieces of clothing and telling people where they can get the same items or even how to style them. Or maybe you review different locations around the world and recommend places to stay, what to do and what not to do in that country and your top tips on making the most of your trip. Maybe even, you write to help students secure placements or understand what it’s like to work in a certain industry by telling readers of your own experiences. Or maybe you just have an extreme passion about something and want to talk about it 24/7 – more likely than not, there will be people who will want to listen to you.
Care less about the people who might laugh at you, and more about the people that will benefit from what you write/vlog/podcast.
2. Envision the end goal
When you think about the above reasons of why you do what you do, also think about what you want from it. What do you get out of it? Even if it’s just that feeling of satisfaction from knowing you’re helping people or if you enjoy watching your numbers grow – give yourself a reason.
How do you measure your success? Is it by reaching new milestones in follower numbers? From comments and emails you receive praising your work or thanking you? Maybe it’s seeing your blog grow and receiving collaboration emails. As long as you can see growth, or that whatever you’re doing is proving helpful, then this should help get rid of the embarrassment.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big. Set yourself goals for your platform. Even if you think they’re way too crazy like ‘reach one million subscribers in five years’, you never know what the future holds. If you put the work in, keep being passionate about your chosen area and live and breathe what you do, you may just meet those crazy goals.
I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction and that when you envision something, speak it out into the world or just keep believing that something will happen, then it will.
3. Stay true to yourself
One thing people can see right through, is someone being fake. Fake in the way they talk, act or carry themselves. We’ve all seen it. People that adapt new accents after living in a new city for five minutes. Someone that used to bully you in school being an advocate for mental health on social media. Or someone that comments on all of your Instagram pictures but wouldn’t say hello if they passed you in the street.
Keep it real. Whether that’s on social media or in person. Be the same person on and off your phone. If you stay true to yourself, then you won’t have anything to feel embarrassed about.
4. It gets easier with time
The first post is always the hardest, especially if you share it with people you know. But as the saying goes, “Tomorrow, it will be yesterday’s news.” When I post anything related to my blog on Facebook or Instagram, I notice so many more hits on my site from those links which I always put down to people being nosy. But I’m grateful for the views.
Whatever you do/post will be a hot topic for all of five minutes, before something else steals the limelight. The ’embarrassment’ will subside after a while, it’s just getting through those first few posts, then it will be second nature.
I must say, all of my friends and people from home couldn’t be more supportive of my blog. I posted on my Facebook that I was nominated for a blog award and I couldn’t believe the people that messaged me to say that they’d voted – even people I wasn’t overly close to. It was so heartwarming to see the positive reaction as it wasn’t what I expected. If you wish to cast a vote, you can do so here. (Shameless plug).
5. You have one life, live it
I don’t want to use the term, but you really do only live once, so make the most of it. You don’t want to be sat in five years’ time thinking, What if I’d just started back then? What would my life look like now?
If I hadn’t started my blog two years ago, I honestly have no idea what my life would look like now. I’ve had the most amazing opportunities, experiences and made so many connections through my blog. Start today, don’t keep putting it off.
Stop caring what other people think and don’t let it control your life. This life is yours so live it the way you want to. I read a self-help book a few years ago that said ‘Life begins outside your comfort zone,’ which is so true. All of my most memorable achievements or best experiences have come from putting myself out there in uncomfortable situations.
Putting my thoughts out there in the public, is uncomfortable. Being interviewed for job roles, is uncomfortable. Speaking in public, is uncomfortable. But those few minutes of not feeling comfortable, reap so many rewards.
Just go for it. Your future self will thank you for it.