I’ve written on the Internet in one form or another for at least 10 years. But when I first started writing/blogging with intention (sometime in 2012), a curious thing began to happen. I quickly gained a reputation, and with it, a kind of label.
As a happy introvert who sometimes struggles with insecurity, the experience of being labeled in this way had a wagging the dog kind of effect. Namely, out of a desire to please some people, I felt compelled to live up to the label. The Internet reputation became something slightly and strangely disconnected from my actual self, and I found myself trying to conform to it.
The label eventually became a lane.
The thing is, despite insecurities and desire to please, I have a deep-seated resistance to people who don’t know me (like, you know, The People of the Internet) telling me who I am. When this starts to happen, especially when it turns into some kind of false accusation or mean-spirited gossip, something within me forcibly pushes back. I spent a good portion of my life being controlled by others in an unhealthy way – now that I am becoming a more confident adult, I just won’t stand for it anymore.
So, over time, the lane that was carved out for me became so ill-fitting and unhealthy that I had to jettison it almost entirely. I had a kind of conversion experience while watching a favorite TV show (because, obviously), and realized that I had often adopted a personality in my writing that wasn’t really me. That personality and perspective had affected other areas of my life too, and not for the better. It was time for a change.
Around that time I also read The Circle by Dave Eggers which gave me an entirely new outlook on the social dynamics of the Internet – especially the growing sense of compulsion and control that people participate in online, and the important distance between the virtual and real worlds.
I am still living into and figuring out how to apply the new perspectives I’ve gained, and it hasn’t been a perfect road since then by any stretch. However, there is one thing I’ve become crystal clear on:
Nothing is more important as a writer and creator than knowing your true lane – which is based in your true self – and running in that lane.
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Things you say or do may get labeled by others. You may gain a kind of reputation according to others’ perception of you.
But it’s crucial for you to seek your identity in your belovedness before God and the specific gifting and calling that he’s assigned to you. Know thyself. Know your personality and continually separate it from any sense of shame and insecurity. And, resist the (Internet) crowd: don’t try to fit the molds that others place on you.
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Find your unique lane, and run in it for all you’re worth – because it’s there that you’ll find your true audience and build a genuine, healthy community.