I glanced at the computer from across the room and looked away. From the corner of my eye, I felt it staring back. No, in fact … I’m quite sure it was giving me a dirty look.
I knew what the dirty look was for. For some time, I had passed by my laptop with the intention of opening it to write my first post for this new venture – the blog post you’re reading right now. But, I had made a conscious decision to ignore that intention and further fuel my worst enemy: procrastination.
Procrastination is what I do when I’m unsure of my path. I was ignoring the fact that I had to start writing because I was having an identity crisis. I’m in my 30s, and I’m having an identity crisis.
For years, I have catapulted others into the limelight through my voice and my writing. But it was never really “my” voice. Even though I poured my heart and soul into those words, they were for the benefit of other businesses, of other individuals, others’ success.
And those words always had some sort of stipulation on them. And that’s OK because that’s my job. And I’m good at it.
I never had a problem getting into the heads of other brands, people or businesses to discover their voice or their messaging. I’ve built a career of making others communicate in the best way possible for their brand.
All of a sudden, that thing I was very skilled at became the very thing that was keeping me from writing.
I never thought that I would have a problem finding my voice after working in communications for more than eight years. But, the question was staring me in the face: What does Jessica Lee sound like when she’s not speaking on other’s behalf?
And the answer was unclear.
See, there have always been rules to my writing – even if they were unspoken. Don’t say this. Say more of that. Talk about those instead of these. All brands have guidelines. But now, the brand was me.
It’s weird to make your own self the client. But I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to go through a list of questions that I, myself, would ask someone else who was trying to find the voice of their brand.
Like, how do you want people to feel about your brand? What is your brand’s personality? What does your brand stand for?
Hmmm … what does my brand stand for? What does my brand stand for?
Well for starters, people who have worked with me would say that I’m big on education – always learning and always sharing that knowledge with others; about quality – continuously improving and upholding the quality of the work I produce; and professionalism – leading by example through integrity, diligence and hard work.
And while those are all true and dandy, even as I’m writing it, I’m bored out of my effing mind.
My whole career, I’ve crafted messages “just so” – they’re always put together, consistently diplomatic, very structured – whatever characteristics the company or people I’ve developed content for wanted their message to portray.
I had a realization that it’s this type of approach, this type of career, that’s led me to be very careful with my words as a person – in all aspects of my life. So instead of trying to find my voice within the confines of the way I’ve found others’ voices for so many years, I was going to just be me – imperfect me.
I don’t plan to ditch any of the standards I’ve developed over the years from being a writer and search marketing professional. But I’m gonna do it my way – and that includes trying things in new ways that I’ve never had the liberty to try in the traditional workplace, divulging in my love for sarcasm, and writing in yoga pants with my hair all jacked up.
And that’s what I call living on the edge.