I Did a Thing

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About 6 months ago I did a thing. I didn’t realise the impact this thing would have. At the time I thought nothing of it. Looking back now I can see that this thing has impacted everything about me and my life.

So, what was this thing? It was a simple post on LinkedIn.

The post wasn’t anything special, it was just a comment as I reshared someone else’s post, but it was the first step of what has become a journey. Since that post, I’ve written articles, seen one of my reshares go somewhat crazy (nearly 600,000 views so far), interacted with people from all over the world, cheekily asked a multi-billion dollar company for free stuff (it didn’t work), helped people get job interviews and shared personal stories most people wouldn’t want made public.

The last 6 months have flown by, but what I feel like I’ve achieved in this time is amazing, both in terms of quantity and impact. Since my first real interaction with LinkedIn I’ve increased my profile, my self-confidence and my self-awareness. When I made that first comment I didn’t realise I needed to do any of this.

Twelve months ago, if you’d asked me, I would have told you I was happy and content with my life, and I honestly was, six months ago I would have told you I was happy, but felt there was something more to find; today I’ll tell you I’m happy, but that I will never be content, and this has made my entire life better.

Twelve months ago I would have said “self-discovery is a load of bullshit, how can someone not know themself?” Today I’ll tell you that past me was wrong. If you’re like me, I don’t expect you to believe it; I don’t expect you’ll pay attention to any of what I’m saying here, but maybe you’ll do something that will open your eyes to the possibility that you don’t really know yourself.

Imagine we meet somewhere, lets say at a meetup. After a few minutes of taking you recognise that I don’t really like you. How does this make you feel? If you’re like I was, you’ll feel a bit hurt; you’ll wonder what you did wrong; you’ll start questioning yourself. If you do this too much, you’ll start moulding yourself to be what other people want you to be, you’ll lose track of the real you. This is where I was, and why I can now look back and say I needed to rediscover myself.

By posting on LinkedIn I opened up a new way to express myself. I’d found a way to push my thoughts out to the public, and not fear the response. Sure, there will be trolls (maybe sometimes I’m the troll), there will be those that want to tear me down for my thoughts, but there will also be those who agree with what I say and those who respectfully disagree. This avenue of publishing has allowed me to slowly build my confidence, share my knowledge, share my learnings and put my journey on display. As I’ve gained confidence I’ve started posting about more personal topics, I’ve shared some of the negative thoughts I’ve had, and here I’m sharing a reflection on my gaining of self.

Through my posts I’ve developed a resilience to those who don’t agree with me, I’ve learnt how to be more diplomatic in my responses, and I’ve learnt how to be true to myself.

When I first started publishing my thoughts I didn’t expect them to have any impact or benefit. I didn’t think anyone would be interested. I’ve now learnt how wrong those thoughts were. I’ve been introduced to people at meetups and been told how much they appreciate my content. I’ve had people thank me for being so open and honest. I’ve had people tell me they realise some of their thoughts are shared with others and they’re not alone. I’m always so thankful my content is useful and helpful to others, but this post isn’t about that, its about the impact on me, and the impact on me has been amazing. The positive comments and reinforcement has led me to wanting to do more, it’s made me proud of the impact I am having, and it’s given me a level of confidence I could never have expected.

Just yesterday a comment was made that helped me to recognise just how much I’ve changed. After 10 hours on my feet volunteering at a conference I was talking to some of the other volunteers. One of them asked how I can have so much energy after being so busy all day. Last year (despite the fact this situation would not have happened) I would have shrugged this off and not known how to react; yesterday I openly said “oh, I’m dead inside, but the attendees don’t need to know that”. By gaining self-confidence and being willing to speak, people have started to assume I’m an extrovert, they’re seeing aspects of me that people don’t associate with an introvert. Like all introverts I need my alone time to rest and recover, but this doesn’t mean I can’t be true to myself and my thoughts, it doesn’t mean I can’t express myself and tell others what I think.

Throughout the last 6 months I’ve slowly realised that when I start an article it doesn’t need a purpose. Most of my articles start with a concept, an action or a feeling. While I’m writing the article the purpose of it will come to me, sometimes it doesn’t though.

As I write this I feel the purpose of this article is bubbling away, just out of sight; I know it’s there, but I haven’t found it yet. At the moment I’m having thoughts about this article helping people to post to LinkedIn, I’m having thoughts about it helping people to take the first step on some self-discovery journey they don’t realise they need, I’m having thoughts about it helping introverts to step outside their comfort zone. At the moment it isn’t achieving any of these things, or maybe its achieving all of them, and I just can’t find the right way to close the loop on it.

Maybe the real value in this article is letting people take what they want from it; letting people see some of my journey, some of my learnings and some of me. Maybe trying to finish this article with a proper conclusion isn’t the right way to do it, maybe I should stop searching for the purpose…