Do you think you are an introvert or an over-thinker or a perfectionist? Or maybe all these three? Even having just one of these qualities makes it that much harder to get out there and show the world the real you. And if you’re not putting yourself out there, no one will know who you are, what you’re doing and what you are capable of achieving.
I hear often from people who burst with ideas but decline to share them because they dislike the spotlight. Maybe you fear others judging you and your work. Or you’re uncomfortable with self-promotion. Or perhaps you’re afraid of failure, or of success.
So many fears, so many ideas worth sharing. What to do? Here are some ideas to help you power through these disabling emotions.
1. Know that you’re in good company. People have always had to put themselves out there. We tend to think that in the good old days, no one had to self-promote the way we do today. True—but if they wanted to share, or lead, or create, they had to go public with their thoughts too. And this has always been scary. Darwin waited 34 years to publish his idea that humans evolved from monkeys. Scholars call this “Darwin’s Delay,” and many believe it was due to his fear that others would judge his heretical for the times theory.
2. When it comes to social media, think self-expression, not self-promotion. Blogging and tweeting, if practiced properly, feel more like a creative project than an exercise in self-disclosure even though, of course, they are both. They also don’t require the in-person social multi-tasking that many people find so exhausting.
3. Think of it as connecting, not promoting. Self-promotion has a bad wrap. When done wrong, it feels slimy and pushy. First, remind yourself that you’re connecting to other people and building relationships. Let go of the attachment to what’s in it for you. Instead, talk about your work and your projects as a jumping off point for getting to know others and allowing them to get to know you, whether in person or on social media. Share from a place of passion and enthusiasm; it will be contagious!
4. Decide what you’ll share. The internet is a big place. So it’s easy to feel vulnerable — like you could potentially share too much or say things that you regret down the road. It’s important to think about what you are and aren’t comfortable sharing in advance, and set boundaries around the topics that are off limits.
5. Start small. Practice sharing bits and pieces of your story with people in person, and see what people respond to the most. You can also experiment by writing an email to your list or publishing a blog post and sharing it with people you trust. The more you practice putting yourself out there, the easier it will be.
6. Call on your support system. If you’re about to do something really bold, tell your friends about it. Ask them to be there for the event itself (if you’re trying to go live on Instagram, for example). Or ask them to be there for you when it’s all over — either to celebrate your big win or to pick up your spirits if it didn’t go as planned. Knowing you have people in your corner can give you that extra boost of confidence.
And, when the time comes, to be there for them too.
7. Strengthen your backbone and, therefore, your confidence in small steps. Get in the habit of asking yourself where you stand on various questions. When you have firm opinions or a strong sense of right or wrong on a given question, savor the feeling.
The point is to get used to the feeling of having a center and operating from it. Then, produce more consequential ideas from this same place. You’ll still have doubts, of course: “Does it make sense? Will people agree?” That’s normal. But you need to have confidence about the underlying purpose of your undertaking.
What are your tips for putting yourself out there fearlessly? I would love to hear from you!