“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
You sit down ready to write, place your hand on the mouse and prepare to conjure up words that can effectively tell the world who you are in just a few short paragraphs.
You type a few words…
And then like a deer caught in headlights, you freeze.
I know that feeling, I’ve been there. Writing is hard. And writing about ourselves is really freaking hard! Even the most experienced writers will agree.
So, why is it so damn hard to write about ourselves?
If you’ve ever written a cover letter, about copy for your website, or a bio, you’ll know the challenges of wanting to sound professional yet human, intelligent but not overqualified. Friendly yet assertive. Confident not cocky.
Whether it’s a cover letter, mission statement, professional bio, speakers profile, LinkedIn summary or author’s bio, having to describe ourselves in authentic detail, while trying to live up to the expectations of others, can sometimes feel like we’re telling a big fat lie.
So why is this? We’ve been hanging out with ourselves since birth. If anyone was to know us intimately it would be our own self. So, why is writing about ourselves so challenging?
There are a number of limiting beliefs and behavioural factors that we adopt over the years that can stop us from sharing our soul on paper. Here are six of them:
1. We’re writing to seek the approval of others
Many of us have a strong desire to be accepted and approved of by others, so naturally when we write about ourselves, the people we want the most approval from are going to appear in our mind. However, when we’re only writing for approval, the things we want to say can bring up a fear of judgement — stopping the rhythm of our words.
It’s important to be authentic in our writing, and to ourselves. Authenticity leads to connection and that’s what will bring our readers closer to us.
Before beginning to write, make a list of everything you want to say and don’t hold back from showing the world the real you. Remember you can always edit afterwards.
2. We’re experts at procrastination
Procrastination really is detrimental to our writing. If we’re faced with something that brings us fear or discomfort, it’s easier to distract ourselves — scrolling Facebook, checking emails, feeding the dog — than actually face it.
A great way to overcome procrastination is to work in blocks of time. This helps promote deep work, or a stream-of-consciousness that can cut through limiting beliefs as you write consciously about yourself.
Allocate a set time, switch your phone to silent, eliminate any distractions, swallow that fear and write, write, write. Don’t stop untill that time is up.
3. We’re really really hard on ourselves
As a society we can often get too caught up with titles, achievements and accomplishments. If we’ve dropped out of school, never completed our degree, become bankrupt or been previously fired, these failures will loom over us reminding us why we’re not good enough as we attempt to convince the world that we are.
One of the best ways to overcome this is to write about ourselves in the third person. This offers detachment and helps get out of a judging and fearing headspace. We’re generally kinder to other people, so by seeing ourselves as someone else can help remove any creeping fear or self-judgement.
4. We’re afraid to stand amongst the poppies.
There is a term here in Australia called Tall Poppy Syndrome. It refers to the expectation that poppies should all grow together. When one grows too tall, it’s cut back in size. Writing about ourselves requires us to stand out from the pack, grow and be seen. This could then lead to fear of being singled out and cut back down.
When we step forward and shine our light. It gives permission for others to shine their light too. By hiding in the pack, we’re doing ourselves and the world a disservice. You just never know who would connect with you if you never share who you really are.
5. We’re perfectionists
Perfection is an artist’s curse. Trying to produce something perfectly only results in us feeling resentful, frustrated and overwhelmed with the process — leaving us with a piece of work that won’t be seen or read by anyone.
Perfection does not exist and done is better than nothing at all.
Writing about ourselves can bring up fear and stop us in our tracks. This could be fear of not being able to write well. Fear of not being able to finish. Fear of judgement. And of course, fear of standing out amongst the poppies.
We all make mistakes, we all achieve successes in our lives, and we all go through adversity. Showing that we are multifaceted by sharing both of our successes and failures only makes us human.
Writing is not for the faint-hearted and creating anything takes courage. If you’re struggling to write about yourself know that you’re not alone. It took me years to get comfortable writing about myself and even now I still find it a challenge.
Remember to always write with integrity and if you get stuck ask people who know you well to describe your best qualities. You can also hire a professional writer to help. It’s never easy sharing your soul on paper but you never know what will happen unless you do.
I believe we all have something to offer this world so never hold back from showing others who you truly are. They just might be your next customer, friend or follower.