Would you ever walk into a friend’s workplace simply to say that they annoy you?
Would you ever listen to someone’s goals and respond with a shrug? Career, life, family … or maybe a super difficult project – would you ever just dismiss them due to disinterest?
What if it was a success story? Yes, the kind shared after reaching those goals or nailing a super difficult project. Would you ever respond with words like “high & mighty” or “know-it-all” or “attention whore.”
Of course not, right? We would never really do that to friends or family or mere acquaintances, right? Because we want to be kind! And encouraging! And supportive! Right?
Don’t panic – this isn’t an “oh, poor me” blog.
It’s more of a question-to-the-reader blog stemming from the realization that I have started sitting on positive blurbs (yes, about my book) for fear of those few who feel, well, less that kind. The few who might even answer those questions above with a “Sure, why not?” Of course, those few are the minority, but that is how some of us roll, right?
Immediately forgetting the 99 cheers to obsess on that one jeer?
My all-time favorite (and this is not a secret as I joke about it often) was a spitting declaration that I was trying to be an influencer. To be crystal clear, the tone was very much accusatory.
No, I am not trying to be an influencer. Or, am I? Actually, I’m not even sure. But let’s go ahead and dissect that word in the spirit of “This blog is my therapy and here is a learning moment.”
When I think of “influencers” I think of my little town’s rising star, a woman who is clearly and strategically taking the digital world by storm. This is a woman who churns out endless, high-quality content. This is a woman who is beginning to gather corporate sponsors by the dozens. This is a woman who is creative. She is relentless. She is beautiful. I suspect she sees the next goal while still working on the current one, putting the pieces into place early in order to reach it. This woman grinds each day, putting together videos for her socials that then look like they all happened quite spontaneously and easily.
I know the grind because I am on a very baby grind compared to her and, my gawd, it is a LOT. I can only imagine the work she does in making it all look effortless or what size whiteboard she uses to keep track of all her projects.
This woman also has a slightly unfortunate address. She lives in small-town Virginia which means that, while she actually has a global following, locally she is the victim of some small-town sneers.
PS: I have a feeling she is one of the nicest people in our little town.
One of my favorite therapy takeaways is to ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?”
Exhibit A: Instead of eye rolls and disparaging remarks about this woman’s mini-empire, ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?” Why is it upsetting that this young entrepreneur drives a Mercedes, has purchased herself a gorgeous home, and even has her face on a shelf at Ulta?
Spoiler alert: You are feeling envy. And that’s okay! But be brave enough to recognize it. Trust me, I feel it too! Yes! I also want the Mercedes and the house, and my
face book on a shelf at Ulta Barnes and Noble.
Instead of darkening this woman’s light, what we should be doing is asking ourselves why her light bothers us so much that we then feel justified in being, well, rude.
Shall we take a quick stroll through advertising history? Let’s, as I really do think that part of this posting pushback is simply because many do not understand the Influence Career Path (or perhaps any career path that requires self-monitoring, self-promotion, or reporting only to oneself).
Influencers are everywhere.
They are not going anywhere. Why? Because nobody watches advertisements anymore. Fast-forwarding through commercials if we haven’t paid extra to have them removed is now the norm. This has left companies with no consistent way to reach potential customers. With nobody watching (listening to) commercials, how will Adidas tell us about its latest shoe? How will AG1 make our guts more productive? How will we learn about Sleep Numbers and mattresses that cradle us like a baby?
The loss of eyes or ears focused on commercial content sent advertisers into a tailspin years ago, probably with the invention of the VCR. Yes, don’t blame the influencers – blame the VCR.
And then … the hashtag craze began followed quickly by the “@” sign rise. Suddenly, the lights were back on in the marketing department as agencies realized that they could access consumers via the world of digital content (yes, social media).
Those ambitious youngsters born with electronics at their fingertips quickly figured out that tagging their most used products on social media posts would bring companies to their front doors … checkbooks open.
“Ah ha!,” some marketing guru probably declared, “We can pay these people to hawk our wares!”
The next revelation?
“We don’t even have to do the work! No writing commercial scripts or hiring actors or production teams … these young social media savvy folks will literally do ALL THE WORK FOR US!”
And thus, the Age of the Influencer began.
Historical stroll complete.
Which brings me back to me.
No, I don’t consider myself an influencer. I do consider myself a writer. Do you know why? Because I write. I write for free, I write for pay, I write for contests. I write. I do consider myself an author. Do you know why? Because I wrote an effing book. A whole book that took three years of late nights, early mornings, research, rewrites, pounding publisher pavement, edits, delays, and … well, it was one of the most difficult mountains I’ve ever climbed but I made it to the top.
I’m proud of that. I apologize if it bothers you.
Today? I am also still pounding the pavement. It’s just now in the form of one granted interview for every bazillion pitches or one published review for every bazillion requests. It’s also anxiety-inducing book signings launched on prayers that someone (anyone) shows and maybe even buy a copy (they did, thank you!). It’s mailing book after book to those real-live influencers hoping that just one might love it enough to tag it in a post.
There is no magic person behind the curtain in these self-guided professions. Every step is researched and opted to take (or not) knowing that the chances of “making it big” are incredibly small.
Still, it is what I have chosen.
I am realistic. I know that the majority of writers never make a dime nor do they sell more than a handful of books. Actually, the majority of writers never finish or publish a book. Mind-blowing success as a writer is essentially the quill and ink equivalent of winning the Powerball.
Still, I trudge on, while I still have the stamina for rejection. Do I overshare? Maybe. The reality is, rejection after rejection creates a need to hear, “Hey, nice job!!!” once in a while.
I apologize if it bothers you.
As a reminder, we all have a thumb with which to scroll by those annoying posts. There is also the unfollow option – one that doesn’t offend me in the least. Why? Because sometimes, I would like to unfollow me, too.
But the most important thing you could do? Ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?”
Take a pause to see if it is really the influencers that are the problem or if, maybe, it is you.
Would you ever walk out of a relationship simply to avoid saying “Hey, nice job!”?