I’m struggling with what authenticity means for me.
In my 20s I was very social, life and soul of the party, a legend in my own lunchbox and a few other peoples to boot. I was also not entirely secure, a little needy even. Definitely on the hunt for love romantic-comedy- style. My happy ever after. My own Mr Right.
Fast forward to my 40s and I am happily single by choice. I am not that keen on going anywhere with more than a handful of people. I prefer my own company and a select few to a big crowd any day. When a friend invites me over and several others drop in I feel somehow affronted, sprung upon.
Sure in crowds or with new people the old neural pathways kick in and I turn on the ‘old charm’. I don’t really enjoy it, and do believe it is simply a habit, as when I plan not to do it – I usually fail. It turns out the endearing quirky ways of a 20-something loving the limelight, when rehashed by a middle-age woman wishing she was elsewhere are not … that charming.
To be authentically me, I like to spend time alone and in the garden and sometimes in small groups or better one-on-one with those who delight me, and/or have been there through thick and thin.
But I have a problem.
Increasingly, and accelerated by COVID we are in an online world. As a coach and consultant, I need an online presence to find new clients, which is a never-ending thing in small business. My wise guru tells me that I need to show up authentically as myself and then the right people will see me and want to work with me. Video is king. Or is she Queen? Either way, I need to show up on video, authentically. I love showing up in writing, but that doesn’t cut it any more (thanks for reading anyway).
I am not amazingly fond of how I look in middle age. I’m not amazingly upset by it either, but I sure as hell am not keen to go splashing it around the internet. I tend to get around not looking in mirrors, more likely to quickly check the revision mirror before a meeting to see if there is any literal egg (or snot) on my face.
Years ago when I started getting into the values-based coaching, a glamorous and connected friend said, “oh we must get you on morning telly, you’ll simply take off”. Even though on the surface at that time I still looked the classic extrovert, and had that lovely glow of youth, I said “I’d rather fail than prostitute myself like that”. I don’t want to build my success on fame or notoriety I want to build it off my good work.
Then the world changed, and it isn’t just personalities we see on our screens (now even in our hands), it’s everyone from our marketing advisor to our heat pump installer and even our Nanna.
What to do? What. To. Do
I have tried a lot of moaning. I have also done a hell of a lot of judging all and sundry out there doing it. I have screwed my nose up at the humblebrags in my feed. I’ve screwed my entire face up while posting my own humble brags “So humbled to get this amazing review ….”
But here I still am, stuck between a rock and hard place. Between my ego and getting more of the work I love, with people that inspire me.
Because wow I love the work I do supporting women and business owners to reach their dreams. When someone tells me I have changed their life for the better, I feel complete and don’t want to say “can I get that in writing and a quick photo of that hug and those teary eyes”.
Even though I am paid to coach and advise, I am coming up short with advice for myself. Instead, I’m going to push through. I am going to go get out of my PJs, maybe even shower and brush my hair and show up, and see if I can’t approximate an authentic enough version of myself without overthinking, over editing or watching it back repeatedly.
Yours as Ever
Dr Rach x
Ps – It’s me from a few months in the future, hello – I don’t love to ‘show up’ still, but I also don’t love to clean the bathroom but I have done that a few times too. Video is getting easier like public speaking does. Maybe it’s nicer than bathroom cleaning which never gets better.