Being Yourself

Being Yourself Takes Guts, So Where Are Mine?

I’ve been having a couple of light bulb moments recently. One of the big ones is about being myself online. I’ve been writing away here for coming up to a year (in November) and I’ve always done it anonymously. There are a few reasons for this. One, I’m really, really conscious about my online safety, and the privacy of my family. This stems from a real-life stalking incident I had earlier in the year, but also because I have quite close links with members of the police service. 

Not because I’m a criminal or anything, just to clarify, but because I just do. Another reason for the anonymity is because of the need I felt to test the waters. It’s quite scary to put yourself out there for the world to read and potentially judge, so I’ve been hedging my bets somewhat to try and avoid that.

I also didn’t want to put my face and name out there too openly, as my writing has always been a safe place that I’ve used to express myself. That’s going to continue, as I’ve no plans to unveil my full identity or anything. The challenge surrounding that is that in this world of freelancing and the gig economy, it’s quite hard to be yourself without actually being yourself. So I’m lifting the lid a tiny bit and starting to come out of the proverbial closet a little.

Not all the way out, I’m comfortable in here.

The thing that prompted this recent revelation was an email I received a few weeks back from a producer at a TV show. They’d read some of my work and wanted to invite me to London to do an interview on live TV. Sounds great, right?

Well yes, except live TV kind of has an element of being live, and there’s no real avoiding showing up with your own name and face. If I’d have done it, I’d have been outed immediately. The potential for disaster felt huge.

being yourself

Now, I know that I’m not exactly Batman or anything and it’s not the end of the world if that happens, but I’m just not ready to go there yet. So, rightly or wrongly, I found a reason to not do it. But what that experience has taught me is that I need to take a few more lessons in being myself. It is really hard to do, for many reasons, not just my own paranoia about being tracked down again.

Being yourself online is difficult. It’s like releasing a wolf and then expecting it to come back for a dog treat when you want it to. I’m trying to be a bit braver and collate all my writing profiles and blog work into one space now and just be myself for once. It’s way harder than it sounds though.

I do want to gain actual paid work out of my writing at some point. That means I’m hyper-aware of the things I write. Aware of the language I use, aware of the things I say, aware of potentially pissing off future contacts. And yet, sanitising yourself leads to a miserable place, I know that from past experience. So what to do?

Be myself and write the absolute whole truth of my language and thought? Or play nice and spout safe, occassionally sponsored stuff that may earn me some much-needed income on the side? It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. 

What are your thoughts? Have you ever struggled with being yourself online? If you’re a writer or blogger, in particular, you may have similar feelings to me on this topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment or you can get in touch over on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Being Yourself Takes Guts, So Where Are Mine?”

  1. I could have written a lot of this myself in the earlier days of my blog, though not as well as you. I actually probably still could write some of this, as I still ‘sanitise’ and go for avoiding certain things to remain anonymous and not revealing what I’m too embarrassed to in some cases. It’s certainly a tricky one to navigate. I did a post before about “I’m coming out” and to me that was the scariest thing I’ve done, making me feel incredibly vulnerable. Yet even there, I didn’t mention the one thing I’ve kept hidden (a surgery I had that basically kicked off a lot of problems I’m now left with). I still haven’t made my blog public in terms of being on my personal Facebook page, and even though I’ve thought about it, I still can’t and perhaps never will. I felt a weight lift when I opened up a little on my blog because I couldn’t achieve what I’d wanted to completely anonymously and I’d have been a total hypocrite going on the way I was, but I still feel bad I haven’t gone ‘all the way’. Still, the whole thing is a learning curve about being yourself, gaining confidence, learning what to share and who to share it with. Only you can decide the answer to any of those things, without pressure from anyone else or what you feel you ‘should’ do.
    Sorry for the long winded and probably illogical response, your post triggered something in me (probably because I’ve been thinking about similar points myself lately!)
    Caz xx

    1. Ahh Caz, thank you so much for this, I’m glad that you can get where I’m coming from with it. It’s such a hard thing to try and get right, isn’t it? x

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