I used to think I was an ambitious person, but the older I get the less that appeals to me. I like many of my peers was a high-achieving or “gifted” child in school. I was one of the lucky ones for who the current American Public Education system wasn’t actively inhibiting me from learning. I managed to do pretty well throughout grade school. (Especially in elementary/middle school, high school AP Calculus was a different story.) I was also someone who was encouraged to go to college, ever since I can remember. I actually can recall a conversation where my mom was talking about a relative that wasn’t going to college and I remember her making it clear that that wasn’t an option for me. College was always expected. And I didn’t object! Like I said, I was good at school and I had always been pretty excited for college.
I was a high achiever, I thrived on doing well in school, I had a minor superiority complex due to being in advanced and AP classes. I was privileged and I genuinely enjoyed (and still do enjoy) learning. College was another story. College is a lot less structured and your environment greatly determines your mental well-being. College was hard. I still did quite well, but naturally, the classes I was not invested in, I didn’t do well in. It didn’t come as naturally to me as before. I had to actually learn how to study. My story is not unique, a lot of Gen Z/Millennials will likely mention a similar experience.
Around this time I also realized something about myself. The normal life I had imagined for myself, post college, working in communications/marketing somewhere, climbing the corporate ladder started to not sound so appealing. This feeling only intensified after my first job. And now, as I sit here typing I know corporate life does not appeal to me.
The inspiration for this blog actually came to me as I was scrolling on LinkedIn and I realized that that entire platform exists as a place for professionals to connect with their colleagues, share industry insights and develop professionally. For some people, they absolutely thrive in this setting. People love networking events, they love connecting with others, they love becoming thought leaders or listening to thought leaders and as I sat back and reflected on that entire world that exists, I just felt so underwhelmed and honestly, a little bit frustrated with myself. It doesn’t appeal to me, it moderately stresses me out, and it definitely confuses me.
I am passionate about things. I love world-building and creating, I love the arts, music, dance, film, and books. I love nerdy things, like podcasts and dungeons and dragons, and podcasts about dungeons and dragons. But the online (and offline) behemoth of professional development holds no intrigue for me. The place where the “thought leaders” of my interests gather is TikTok and Twitter and YouTube, and back in the olden days, Tumblr. However, in my day to day life, I work in marketing. And logically, I should be cultivating a following on LinkedIn and engaging with other marketers. You know, networking.
But this doesn’t appeal to me. Now, sometimes, my chosen career field really manages to spark my interest. When I’m specifically working on social media campaigns and strategy I get pretty invested. I’ve recently started a project to amp up interest in a start-up that we’re working with and building that plan from the ground up is interesting. I find influencer marketing to be fascinating. I really am interested in the microcosms online and finding a company’s niche and making it work for them. I enjoy planning content (especially when I have buy-in from a client and they collaborate alongside me) But a lot of other aspects don’t appeal to me as much. The problem is, the stars only rarely align in such a way as these I’ve mentioned.
I don’t have a solution for this, but I’ve decided recently to try and develop a social campaign strategy for myself. I want to try to apply the things I do in my career to my personal channel and see what happens. I think it might be fun and I’ve literally never considered doing it until now, which is kind of odd. Part of my goal this year was to be more creative so this is me trying to do that. I really want to try to churn out some content and see what comes of it. One of the major obstacles of this is that I am terrified of self-promotion and putting myself out there. I’m genuinely scared of doing it. I worry too much about what people think of me. So this challenge is two-fold: Apply the techniques I use in my every day job to my own personal brand, and be brave enough to put myself out there and not care what people think. Here goes nothing.