Fear of Sharing the Real Me

(Thinking out loud about my writer insecurities.)

Yesterday I posted on Medium about my new found cynicism of the endless inspirational listicle posts.

Today, that post started me thinking about a related topic.

I mentioned authenticity in yesterday’s post and today I’m trying to get my head around that idea. What does it actually mean to be your authentic self online and why am I so afraid of doing that?

To be your real self, I guess you have to make an effort to stop pretending you are someone that you’re not, right? So, no more faking it until you make it? No more trying to hide your flaws? No more trying to fit in?

But does that also mean that you wouldn’t produce articles or writing that you think people want to hear? Is aiming an article at your audience for their sake another way of pretending?

(I’m asking questions here because I’m actually thinking about this question out loud. I don’t have all the answers right now.)

When I look at the articles that I have posted on Medium, the one with the most reads and the most hearts is something I wrote about Donald Trump. The problem is that I don’t tend to write about politics. It’s not my thing, really and I even mentioned that in the article. Of course I have my opinions about politics but I don’t think I’m cut out to write about it. Will I be writing similar articles to this in the future? Nope. Should I? Some people would say yes, others no.

If I were trying to get an article to go viral, then there are certain subjects and certain methods of writing that would make that more likely. But is that really what I want?

I see a lot of articles where people say that you should write what your readers want to read. But I think if you’re writing things that you don’t feel are a genuine representative of yourself you’re probably going to pick up the wrong readers for you in the first place. It seems like once you get caught in that cycle it might be hard to break free.

I’ve had it suggested to me that if I am writing for myself then I should just write a private journal. But what if you are writing for yourself, in the way that you would want to read an article written by someone else? Is it possible that there might be other kindred spirits out there that will appreciate my authentic self because they are just like me? What if I want to target people who like the same things as me?

Or is there really nobody out there who is just like me?

And I’m back to that self-conscious, insecure voice inside my head that tells me that others will think I’m weird or odd if I present my authentic self to them online, in public. Maybe I’m too childish, too gross, too weird, too foul-mouthed, too moody, too patronising, too anything. That list could go on ad infinitum.

And what if I write something that is truly open and honest and then I want to erase it and hide behind the false facade again? It’s hard to get rid of stuff on the internet.

Putting yourself out there as a writer is definitely hard, because you just don’t know how you will be received. Even finding your own voice is hard. The fact that we are all Director of P.R. for our own personal brands online just magnifies the difficulty. I’m pretty sure I’m due a P.R. disaster or two down the line.

I actually toyed with the idea of starting up a new Medium account under a pen name so that I could be as authentically me as possible. How ironic is that? Authentically me, with a false name…

So here’s to the struggle of finding your own voice and your own authenticity. I’ll let you know if I have any eureka moments down the line.