It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! Right now I’m hard at work, getting ready for the second run of the Crafting my Life course. Early bird registration is open now, so if you want to live with greater intention, sign up. I’d love to have you along for the journey.
Did you read that spiel I just gave? I give it every week when I run my Crafting my Life post. This series, which is about re-inventing myself, is my big chance to plug whatever it is that I’m up to. And so, I do just that. But you know what? I don’t enjoy it. In fact, it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable, even though I understand the importance of self-promotion as a life skill. Every time I write that blurb, or talk about the Crafting my Life class on Facebook or Twitter, I cringe a little.
Self-promotion is hard for a lot of us. Many of us were taught not to talk about ourselves too much. Or maybe we learned to keep silent the hard way, when we did speak up and met with some seriously negative reactions. No matter how long ago that was, and no matter how much you’ve grown and learned since then, it can be hard to let go of those deeply-ingrained messages from your past. And so you’ll spend all day and night talking about this cool thing your friend is doing, without ever breathing a word about yourself.
Negative associations with self-promotion don’t only stem from our own past experiences, though. Another big part of the equation is watching other people promote themselves badly. I’m sure we’ve all had at least one negative interaction with someone who was trying to sell us something. Instead of really listening to us and taking the time to understand what we wanted, they ran roughshod over us in an effort to close the deal. Or maybe we’ve had friends who constantly pressured us to hold sales parties, or relatives who were always launching their next sure-fire business.
In the blogging and social media world, there are a lot of contests that involve asking people for votes. These online popularity contests are usually won by the person who is able to convince the most people to show up and vote for them the most times. In fact, I’m in one of these contests myself right now. I was nominated as one of the Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms at Circle of Moms, and you could vote for me once a day if you were so inclined. But I’ve never won one of these, likely because after sending out a couple of tweets I start to feel a little bit uncomfortable. How many times can I stump for votes before it becomes too much, and crosses from acceptable self-promotion into just plain irritating?
Many people in my life frequently ask me for updates on what I’m doing. I have to remind myself that other people are interested in what I’m up to, just as I’m interested in what they’re up to. I also have to remind myself that not everyone is in the know just because I sent one Facebook status update about my latest project. I think maybe this is where the balance lies. When we’re telling other people what we’re up to, and sharing from a genuine place, then the people who actually care about us will want to hear about it. When we’re bragging about past accomplishments, talking others down, or trying to coerce action, it’s not so cool.
So I will continue to let you know what’s up in my life, even if it makes my palms a little sweaty when I do it. If you’re not interested, that’s OK. I’ll still love you, and I’ll understand, because my Thing is not necessarily going to be your Thing. But because it is my Thing, and I care about it, it’s important for me to talk about it, even if it isn’t always easy. I’ll do my best to keep it genuine and real and interesting, and I hope you’ll cut me some slack if I repeat myself from time to time.
What do you think? Where does the line between appropriate self-promotion and just plain annoying lie for you? Do you struggle with talking about what you’re up to, for fear of negative reactions? I’d love to hear your thoughts!