Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about invented personas and how the idea of being yourself fits into a career as a content creator. I have seen so many other people talking about this and thought I’d share some of my own opinions about why we pretend to be something other than ourselves and why this could never be sustainable (at least not in a healthy way) long-term.
Let’s get right into it.
We Start Comparing Ourselves to Others Before We Even Begin Our Own Journey
So, you’re sitting around one day and all of a sudden have the motivation to start that thing you’ve always wanted to start – an art project, a blog, a YouTube channel, a weight loss journey, an application for your dream job, etc. What’s the very first thing you do?
If you’re anything like me, you probably rush straight to your phone or computer to check out other people who are already doing what you want to be doing. You read through blogs and watch videos and look through pictures until you completely lose track of time.
This can seem harmless. In fact, you’ll probably walk away from this feeling even more inspired. You’ve seen how far this passion can take you and what success looks like for other people. You’re motivated and ready to join the game for yourself.
Inspiration is great, and it will drive you. I encourage you to seek it out. But this is where it can get unhealthy…
You have just created a storage folder in your head of people and projects to compare yourself to. It’s likely that the people you’re inspired by have been doing whatever it is that they do for years, and – when your own work doesn’t measure up – you feel less than or not good enough. You might even give up right away.
Additionally, the line between what you want to do and who you want to be can start blurring pretty quickly. Without even realizing it, you may start forcing the charisma you saw in someone else’s video or toning down your own sarcastic humor to sound like that adorable blogger everyone loves.
You have an exciting blank slate to work with at the beginning of your journey, and it can be all too tempting to build up a new persona from scratch rather than stay true to yourself. Avoiding vulnerability becomes second nature, especially when you’re trying to be like someone else.
Without True Passion, the Fire Burns Out
So, you take on your new persona and you run with it. You start creating, and maybe at first it doesn’t feel like pretending. You may even start shifting your own interests, hobbies, and personality to fall more in line with this new persona.
Yes, results may come in and they may be intoxicating. Attention for your work can become addicting, and that alone can drive you for a while.
But, inevitably, that fire will burn out. Let me share my own story with you to help you understand.
Obviously, I’ve been doing things online for a lot longer than that. Unfortunately, I fell into a habit of creating something I thought other people would like and then becoming disconnected from it as I tried to find my own identity again. For the last two years, I have been uploading and writing content just to delete all of it two or three months later when I decide I hate it.
And why does this happen?
Because I keep creating a new persona and then trying to find a niche that aligns itself with that. I have never been truly passionate about what I was putting out there, so I’d run out of ideas and half-ass something just to get it up for the week. Once the fire burned out, there was nothing more attractive to me than another blank slate.
I learned that “fake it till you make it” is not sustainable. You need real passion behind your work. And, now that I’m following mine, I have so many creative ideas it’s almost overwhelming.
People Want to See the Real You, Trust Me
For me, it was easy to feel like I wasn’t inventing a new persona because I truly was playing off a part of my personality. I somehow convinced myself that I needed to be one thing, and only one thing, to attract a certain type of audience.
But that’s not how it works. Nobody is only one thing, and they don’t want to follow someone who is only one thing either. All the variations in our own personalities and interests and talents are what attract people in the first place.
So, here’s to hoping that we all start putting a little bit more of ourselves – our true selves – into whatever it is that we’re creating. Follow your passions without losing yourself along the way, because finding your way back to reality is so much harder than you might think.