In life, I’m an extrovert. I love humans and I especially love talking and building meaningful conversations. But online, I’ve been a mouse. In comparison to my personality offline, my online presence is just a fraction of who I am. There’s been a disconnect because, in truth, I’ve been terrified of “putting myself out there”, paralyzed inside endless rabbit-holes of comparison, heavy with the weight of what I am not and who I don’t want to become.
But in early 2020, something happened that’s been pushing me to slowly break away from my identity as a “digital introvert”: The Bloom. In early 2020, just as the pandemic began, I decided to go full-time on my side-hustle. At the time, I didn’t really consider myself to be “building a company”; all I knew was that I believed to my core that my project deserved 100% of my attention. The community reading my newsletter was pretty small back then (about 60 weekly readers), but the amount of personal emails I received from strangers reminded me that what I was doing was contributing meaningfully to people’s lives, that it addressed a gap in the human rights and social justice world, so I decided to invest all my love in the project. Now, almost a year later, and the community, the project, the team, have bloomed organically around the world. With this growth, has also come a greater emotional, spiritual, intellectual, commitment to what I’m building –and, with that, in some funny way, a growing impatience with myself. I don’t want to wait any longer to feel “comfortable” with the process of “putting myself out there”: I just want to DO IT. Not for myself but for the people who I know could benefit from hearing my story, from following along on this beautifully wild ride that is building a company as a 24-year old solo founder with no previous business experience.
So this is me, taking baby steps to share my personal journey more consistently. To start, I wanted to begin in the place that felt most natural, the topic where I felt I could add most meaning and not just add a bunch of extra noise on here (because, you know, there’s a lot of noise online…). That topic, for me, is digital introversion and the steps I’m actively taking to grow away from this identity, and “put myself out there.”
Here’s just a few of my tips and strategies, or rather, ways of thinking and acting, that I hope can help you break away from digital introversion and bring out to the virtual world the personal side of your growing your company ?
1. Don’t hoard your story. Set aside your Ego.
When you’re building something, especially a mission-driven project or company, you have to realize that sharing your story, the process of what you’re building, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it…is not really about you.
You know that voice that’s telling you that well, sorry Jasmine but “I’m not really inspiring” or “I don’t have anything interesting to share”– I’ve got good news for you: that’s your EGO talking. Set that aside. Think, for a moment, of all the humans who inspire you, who motivate you with their Tweets, TikToks, IG posts, newsletters, articles… think to yourself: if these humans, who bring me so much joy and reflections, decided NOT to share their story, and put themselves “out there”, to hit “post”, where would I be? Sit with that. You never know who can benefit from learning about your journey in building your company, project, business. As the Tweet below encompasses beautifully “you never know who will need to hear your story.”
2. Keep track of the little wins
Keep track of the “little wins”, of those moments in the past, maybe they’re scattered, of those times that you did put yourself out there. Maybe it was a LinkedIn or Instagram post you’re especially proud of – print it out and hang that up where you can see it every day. It’s setting up a joy-invoking system in the material world for yourself that can help you reach that mindset of pride and joy to motivate you to start writing.
3. Set up an accountability buddy-system
From conversations I’ve had with fellow founders and friends, one of the consistently effective strategies to publish more online and “put yourself out there” is to set up a network with people who have a similar goal, and keep each other accountable. A great place to start once you’ve found your people/person is to have them do an analysis of your current online presence, even if there’s not much there, and ask them for a radically honest evaluation of who they feel you are, based on what they see solely online. What impression do they get of you just based on your LikedIn or Instagram profiles? This is a great starting point because it can highlight those areas and values we want to project out more into the virtual world. Maybe you’re passionate about environmental justice, but from your profiles it’s not clear that your passion goes beyond your day job; that it’s a passion permeating into every corner of your personal life, from your creative project to your community work. An honest analysis from your friend tells you that this side of you that you value so much is not really clear online. Well, that’s a great starting point.
4. Keep it SIMPLE
Cut the bullshit and start with the smallest action possible. Keep it really simple. I LOVE lists. In them, I feel safe and empowered to think creatively and with intention. Every point on this list, for example, is filled with the thoughts I found most essential for you to walk away with.
What’s the format you’re most comfortable with projecting your feelings out in the word? Maybe articles are not your thing. That’s OK. Maybe you feel most comfortable singing; try it out! When thinking of how you want to put yourself out there, I urge you to think creatively and boldly; don’t just fall into the trap of the traditional “article” format. For me, writing always felt like the most natural format, especially when I have space to let thoughts flow. It’s why The Bloom started as a newsletter.
There is no one perfect way or format to share your story, to put yourself “out there” – give yourself space and patience to try out different formats. Don’t limit yourself to one platform or style of communication.
5. Tattoo your surroundings
What empowers your most authentic voice? My suggestion for figuring out where to start here is by setting aside a 20-minute block of time, grabbing a piece of paper, and writing a flow-of-consciousness list of all the things/people/quotes/ideas that bring out the side of you, the voice in you, that just feels right. The one that feels raw, vulnerable, authentic. Identify those empowering forces, and then WRITE THEM DOWN. Don’t trust your brain to remember – make it easier for yourself and write it down somewhere visible. For me, that was actually one word coraggio (“courage”, in english) a word that my nonna always repeated to me, reminding me that in life, always, the most important thing you can remember is to always go forward with heart. While I don’t advise you necessarily to tattoo yourself like I did three years ago, I cannot emphasize enough how transformative it is to see the forces that empower you in your material surroundings…In some way, think of this as a sort of “Tattoo-ing of your environment.” Don’t let those forces be an occasional presence in your life. Make them PART of your life and work.