To Share, Or Not To Share

To Share, Or Not To Share

One thing I learnt in my 6+ years of retail experience is that “jo dikhta hai, wohi bikta hai”. (Translated: “What is seen, is what sells.”)

And showing off the products at my shop was an easy enough thing to do. I just needed to manage the display and the layout and organization of the store in a way that things were visible. I also needed to talk about the utility and possibilities of certain lesser-known items from time to time.

Thing is that the same principle still applies when you venture into a professional field, i.e. where YOU are the product. You’ve got to showcase YOURSELF – your strengths, your achievements, your journey and experience in the field – to be able to sell yourself.

And some people do this brilliantly! They can go on and on, and share – WITH statistics and figures – about themselves.

The last 1.5 years, I got the opportunity to observe and learn from such people, as to how they do this so fluently, and I must say, I have got so much better at this. (Proof – Page 1, Page 2)

It is still not coming easily though. I’m facing a lot of internal resistance. On some points, these “mental blocks” are so strong that a part of me is even willing to switch to a different career altogether, one where I don’t need to talk about myself, or share my story.

It’s taken me over 2 months to dig out all the layers of this monolithic mental monstrosity of monumental proportions… (Yes, a tongue twister, because that is how it’s got my mind all twisted up!)… AND I'm still figuring out how to make any headway through it!

So, what are these “layers” then?

What Keeps People From Sharing Their Story?

  1. Inability to SEE themselves.

    I mentioned in my earlier post on “The Secret To Building Self-Confidence”, about how people sometimes get so adept at doing certain things that they don’t even realize what they’re doing. They may have learnt those skills by unconsciously modeling others, and now, those traits are in their “Blind Spot”. Naturally, they can’t share those of their strengths that they aren’t aware of themselves, right? And while I'm guessing I still don't see myself FULLY, this is not that big a challenge for me now (thankfully!), after all the work I did last year. I DO believe I’ve got enough to keep going.

  2. Critical Environment.

    If you have spent too much time in the company of people who repeatedly belittle you, minimize your achievements, or even respond with sarcasm and mock, or cut you off when you try to speak about some accomplishment or some aspiration, you get “programmed” to NOT talk about these things. The more intense this repeated “shaming”, the more deep-rooted this “aversion” to sharing your story. Such company, coincidently, also fuels point 1 above, as you’re only getting negative feedback, throwing no light on your “good parts”, and in fact PUSHING them more into your blind spot. I am still “UN-programming” this.

  3. Being an Empath.

    One person’s success and achievements can sometimes bring out another person’s insecurities. And empaths are people who go out of their way to make the others around them comfortable. I realized in class VIII, in school, that I had a choice, to deliberately underperform or not perform, if I so wanted. I didn’t know then that this was actually “self-sabotage”, but, I am wiser now, as I realize that this is disrespectful to both yourself AND the people you’re trying to make comfortable by downplaying yourself and, consequently, not giving them a reason to explore their potential.

  4. Survival Stories.

    For some people, success stories are in the form of getting admission into an Ivy League Institution (say Oxford). For some, it is about getting a full-scholarship in the Institution. For some, however, just being able to continue with their education is a battle they’ve had to fight tooth and nail for! And if most of your “major accomplishments” fall in the category that people usually take “for granted”, then it can feel very daunting to not only share those stories in public, but to also earn respect through them.

  5. Fear of Judgement.

    Not so much for yourself (although some people WILL twist things around to portray you as a “victim” instead of a “survivor”), but for the people who put you in this space, because you understand where they’re coming from too, and you don’t want your audience judging THEM negatively, portraying them as some kind of villains. This is the pattern I’m seeing on all the social media pages and accounts I follow that are related to surviving abuse in any way. And for me, this is turning to be “deal breaker” level HUGE, because I believe that people are never ALL black or white. I have not been able to figure out a way around this yet.

  6. “Toxic Positivity” Syndrome.

    I’ve always found it easier to write about funny and “feel good” kinda stuff. On my old blog, self-deprecating humor and inspiration were the 2 types of posts that were most abundant, AND most popular too. On those abuse-related pages I follow, I see the authors getting trolled for “spreading negativity”. But are they really spreading it? Or are they simply addressing the elephant that was already in the room? Then there is also the “Law of Attraction” to consider. Is ignorance a bliss, or does knowledge create self-fulfilling prophecy? But if these pages hadn’t been around to create awareness on such issues, wouldn’t I still be stuck in the narcissistic cycle of “love-bombing, abuse, discard and hoover”? What is the right thing to do here, then?

  7. The “Cinderellas”.

    Then there are also those people, following these social media pages, who take everything PERSONALLY, irrespective of whether the shoe fits or not. And then they start crying foul and attacking the author, even trying to defend and justify their behavior so often. To be fair though, there are the abuse victims too, who gain validation and better understanding of their own experiences. For them, it’s like somebody just gave words to the feelings they were struggling with. And they are also equally expressive with their love and gratitude for the author. So, basically, the interactions on such pages are just so wildly extreme! Am I even capable of handling this emotional “seesaw” yet?

  8. Privacy Concerns.

    I’ve been sharing so many personal stories on my blog, so openly, for so long, and yet, there’s stuff that I simply close-up about. If it is a sticky stress situation, in which I’m unable to write my usual kind of posts, I would go underground even (“hibernate”, as I called it on my old blog). It’s like – “WHY do I need to share it publicly? I don’t need revenge. I don’t need validation…” Okay, in cases of trauma related to abuse (especially gaslighting, where your reality and sanity are questioned), you DO need validation from someone else, but not the ENTIRE “public”! Besides, that’s also only temporary, until YOU start trusting yourself once again. The way I see it, your story – the AUTHENTIC one – is more important for YOU to know than for anyone else. So why share?

  9. Reliving the Trauma.

    Owning and expressing your story is cathartic, yes. At the same time, it also makes you relive all the pain and suffering. Going through the experience over and over again just etches it that much more deeply in your neural system, amplifying and intensifying the hurt. And I see many of these page authors still stuck in their trauma. In the past, whenever I’ve had to journal through a rough patch in life, I’ve always torn those pages off, or deleted the file from my PC. So yeah, this is also kind of like a “deal breaker”. I have been sharing bits and pieces for the last few months, on my FB profile, like a “test drive”, you know… but seriously! Do I even want to do this consistently, even to create awareness about abuse? I don’t know yet. (I actually quite miss interacting with kids at my store… that was so much more positive!)

  10. Your Future Legacy.

    I see these pages on trauma and abuse, and the authors of those pages… I see an “abuse survivor” or a “trauma survivor”. It’s become their identity. I don’t want to be remembered as “a survivor”. ANY survivor. In my world, there is something beyond “surviving”, and that’s “thriving”. I am “a thrivor” (even though it’s not officially a word yet). Surviving is where you’re doing the bare minimum to avoid further damage to yourself. For me, it can only be a temporary healing phase. Whereas, thriving is when you go OUT of your comfort zone, try new things, engage with new experiences, make new mistakes, even get hurt again (Why not! It’s a part of living, isn’t it?)… and then share it all out there, complete with your fumbles and goof-ups and silliness… which brings me to my next point…

  11. WHAT ALL to Share.

    When I came back on FB few months ago, I went through (Read: “stalked”!) the profiles of a lot of big influencers – people with thousands of followers. I even talked to a couple of them, to pick their brain about this. You see, I’m someone who has a LOT of diverse interests, and I keep learning and trying new stuff, and I keep SHARING about my “experiments”, and naturally, not all of them end up a success, right? And sometimes, it’s not even about success or failure… I just do things for the fun of it, like sharing stupid pics using Snapchat filters. For me, they're ALL just stories. Also, I don’t claim to have ALL the answers ALL the time. (How is that even possible when you’re learning NEW things all the time?) I get stuck at times too. Like, this post, for instance. Do I NOT share it then? Do I “censor” actual living parts of myself, to fit into a “role”? Does “social networking” become synonymous with “professional networking”? That IS what I’m seeing mostly, but is it possible for me to be that “unidimensional” – even if just on social media? When authenticity and freedom are my top two values?

I understand that in this new profession, you NEED to share your story, for creating transparency and trust, obviously, AND for building people’s respect and confidence in what you have to offer. I have just not been able to wrap my head around some of these aspects I discussed above so far.

But I also know that I am exceptionally good at this work. I have already worked with some teens (one was a suicidal anorexic!), some trauma/abuse victims, as well as people dealing with relationship issues and loss/grief. I even followed-up with some of them for several months. So I know that what I do makes an actual tangible impact in people's lives.

Basically, the crux of this loooong post is that along with clarity of “WHAT you want to do” and “WHY you want to do it”, you also need clarity of the CONSEQUENCES of doing it. Then only, you can figure out an effective “HOW to do it”. And some of these consequences seem to be a major turn-off for me at the moment.

I don’t really think it’s going to stop me though. It’s probably just going to take some time to figure my way out through this. Since I haven’t yet found a “precedent” whom I can model, I’ll have to CREATE my own working model, through my trusty ol’ “trial-and-error” methodology.

Well, at least I love experimenting… that's one thing going for me, huh?

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Wanna Talk? :)

shalz75 said...

You hit the nail on the head with Consequences - the accountability factor is huge when it comes to sharing opinions and experiences. And most people miss this bus by a mile out. Sharing on social media has become a norm and most often I am seeing people share TOO much. I get it that they are excited but just stop and think whether everyone else will be thrilled by this share too. You hang in there and unpeel as many layers you need to - its your right and I'd say you are heading in the right direction by the looks of it.

Rajlakshmi said...

Woa this is such an in-depth analysis. I have never given this much thought. Among my friends itself I can see so many different personalities. Some hold their stories closer to heart while others are much more open to share. But I guess that too comes from life experiences and molded through growing up years.
I sometimes fear I overshare. Which in turn makes me not want to share anything. The struggle!

Kay said...

Thanks Shalzz! Need to find a balance between Too Much Information and Freedom of Expression...

Kay said...

I totally hear you, Raji!

Vinitha said...

This is such a detailed post, Kay! I will be reading it again for sure. I can relate to many of the points you have mentioned. I don't share much on social media due to the obvious reasons like fear of judgement, also I get trapped in the evolution of human mind dilemma. Meaning, I might have a certain view toward a certain topic now, but in the future I could very well have a different view on the same matter. Sharing in Social media might stop me from letting myself evolve instead force me to stand my ground no matter what. Of course, my overthinking brain presents a numerous scenarios and I just call it quits and stop sharing altogether.
I like reading your posts, Kay. Thank you for sharing. :)

Kay said...

Good point, Vinitha. I keep changing my mind too about so many things, even on my blog. That gives me one more story to share, linking back to the older post, that now this is the new situation on this topic! :))
Thank you so much!

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