This is a story about fear. No, wait. It’s a story about vulnerability. Maybe it’s a story about daring? <Kicks Brene Brown 101 manual under the desk>. Let’s say it’s about all of those, shall we?
You may have read about my older Writing for the Education Market (WEM) email list in my very first blog post. There’s a deeper story than I wrote about there and it’s been making my head vibrate all week.
The backstory. On Christmas Eve I took a leap and emailed the old WEM folks based on a 2014 email list I had and invited them to join me on this new venture. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. How dare I intrude on these people when I hadn’t said a word in years? How dare I!? But it was a leap of faith. All they could do was say no, right? And then I’d just be where I currently was, an email list of 0 subscribers and just getting a business off the ground. So I pressed the send button and held my breath.
It wasn’t two minutes later when I had my first subscriber, and then my second! I let my breath out in a whoosh and the next thought in my head was, They didn’t even take the time to read what I wrote! That struck me two ways. One, I was just a little bit indignant because I had bled over those words. And two, they remembered me and said yes without me having to convince them at all. Really? Why?
I am sure I’m not the only person in the world who thinks I don’t really have anything people want to listen to, right? I’m just going to imagine everyone in the world bobbing their heads up and down in agreement right now. Humor me.
Figuring Out MY Who
Maybe it’s time for a character self-description. Here’s what I see when I look at me. I see a smile. That’s easy. I see someone who is always ready to help. I see someone who loves to learn and to share the learning. I see someone who jumps in to help even when no help is needed or wanted. I see a know-it-all who doesn’t know when to step back. I see a talker who needs to listen more.
You see where that went, right? I start out strong and confident and then wither into self-doubt and castigation.
So back to the email subscribers. I was lucky enough to have 24 people subscribe on Christmas Eve and double that over the next few days. I had my list! Wow!
I Found Them!
They were people who remembered me and knew my style, so I wrote my emails to them as I saw them, the group of friends I needed and could open up to. These aren’t impersonal interweb strangers happening upon my words. These are friends, and as such, I could really speak to them as myself. So I did.
I tried to keep my emails short (not so easy) and only picked one or two things to pour out to them about my trials and fears starting this online business. My welcome series asked for replies. Things like, Tell me why you chose to follow me? What do you hope to get out of this email group? etc.
The replies were more than I could have hoped for. Lots and lots of I remember you and trust you. Some, I wanna maybe create an online course, too. And even some I love the way you write and your style. All of it made me tear up. (Oh, I should mention here that I’m a crier. I’m going to leave that there for now.) I even got a few, Can we chat over the phone?
I consider myself very lucky to have these people with me on this journey. I’ve had conversations with a few folks now over the phone and over video chat. One call, in particular, led me to this blog post. And that, folks, is the longest blog post introduction ever! Ta da!
Conversation With A Friend
Meet John Soares. He runs the productivewriters.com site among others and we chatted back and forth a bit during the WEM days. Here’s a paraphrase of our recent conversation earlier this week. John’s email reply to one of my welcome series emails: Laura, are you open to suggestions? Have you ever felt your heart contract? LIke, shrink up really tight? I’m sure my heart wasn’t doing that, but it felt like it. My response: Absolutely. Shoot. John: How about a phone convo? My head: OMG, I suck and he feels he needs to let me down in person. In the email, Sure! Tomorrow at 11 am? Will do. And then I proceeded to imagine everything I could be doing wrong that he needs to tell me about.
Now, let me be completely fair. John gave no indication of anything negative. Not.One.Thing. That all came from inside me. This is what I battle constantly. I’m willing to bet a lot of you do, too. I’ve learned to smile and breathe and listen around that negative voice. And I’m usually wrong about the negative stuff, as I was in this case. I have so much practice being wrong in the negative self-talk area, that I can stuff it back down with confidence. That doesn’t seem to stop it coming back up every time, though.
That conversation with John was huge. At least it was for me. He was so supportive of what I’m doing. In my email list, I had shared that I wasn’t sure if I wanted a website or blog or not. John was adamant that I blog. I have a hard time sharing what he said exactly about my voice and my style because, to me, it’s still hard to believe. I talked to him about how I write differently to my email group than I do in a blog post because I thought blog posts needed to sound professional and focused. My emails to the list are like talking to friends so I can be myself, silly, afraid, undecided. I felt like I couldn’t write like that for the world or I’d look unprofessional. John said that’s exactly how I need to write. Being so open is what draws people to me. Queue the quaking fear. He gave me some other great advice about my website and focus and I’m taking that to heart. Lots of refocusing in the works. Thanks, John!
I Found My Voice
So this post is about my voice and who I am and who I want to be. I want to be myself everywhere. I don’t want to have to put on a persona for business. Heck, no. That’s entirely too much work. I’m a jeans-and-t-shirt girl who doesn’t want to use any of her time putting on make-up. I’m even waiting for my hair to grow out so I can throw it in a braid rather than spending time blowdrying it. I want to have the same voice everywhere. That way, I don’t have to remember who to be. I just have to be me.
So really, this blog post is about courage.