I’m not a commodity. I am not consumable. I am an experience. There isn’t just one thing about me that you should appreciate. Sitting here and curating my thoughts and activities to appeal to that consumption was something that made me entirely uncomfortable. Self-branding truly made me feel like if I didn’t present myself as a ‘product’, that I would not gather the attention that I wanted. Trying to ‘brand’ myself only further fed into this egotism, forcing me to redefine my identity as a product, a presentation, and fulfilling not just your expectations of who I am, but being constantly disappointed in failing to reach those expectations for myself.
As a result, I became incredibly depressed.
I was watching a reality television show, that was kind of a Japanese rendition of “Big Brother”, where a bunch of different people live in a house together (As a subplot to this story, I’ve been learning Japanese for the last couple months, but more on that later). Upon being asked by one of her ‘outside’ friends, one of the housemates described every other resident of the house by explaining their age and the profession, but not by their name, and not by any of their other interests, features, or distinguishing aspects.
This gave me pause. I sat and thought about how I present myself to the world, and how I see others. It’s so easy to determine our self-worth exclusively within our job title, or our marital status, or even one of our public hobbies.
Thought experiment: What did you last buy your parent for their birthday?
My Stepdad loves golf. Over the years he has received thousands of golf balls, ball markers, driver socks, beer caddies, collared shirts, and baseball hats, that now, whenever his birthday or Christmas rolls around, I freeze up completely. I live in fear of buying him something golf related, because when I hand it over to him it says two things, one positive, and one that terrifies me.
Positive thought: I thought about you and as a result, bought you something.
Terrifying thought: Despite the fact that I have known you for 25 years, I don’t know anything about you aside from the fact that you like and play golf.
Knowing that my Stepfather enjoys playing golf does not in any way solidify how I feel about him. Failing to get him something I know he will like and enjoy makes me feel like I’m missing out on a big part of who he is by scaling him down to the simplest of terms.
That girl you follow on Instagram because you like the way she dresses? That’s not a relationship.
That person you retweet on Twitter because you enjoy their political commentary? That is not a relationship.
That YouTuber who takes you on their travels around the world, and who eats all the delicious food you want to try? That is not a relationship.
The internet has made it easier then ever to compare yourself to others who impress you and offers all the resources you need to give people a reason to love you. But turning yourself into a product to be consumed is not going to get you any closer to loving yourself.
When I started this idea in the middle of last year, I was convinced that if I could show people the truth behind who I am and what I do that I could get everyone to love me. I was looking for that validation. Instead, I forgot about the reasons why everyone I know loves me in the first place. The result was a highly edited attempt to grasp at the straws that I believed made me an individual.
I hated it. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t what I wanted people to see when they looked at me.
So no more self-branding. No more analytics. No more strategics to pull in more viewership. I’m done trying to impress people. I’m done being anything other then my true self.
If you like me, follow me. If you don’t, have a marvellous day.
I’m just going to keep talking and writing until someone decides to listen to me, and then I’m just going to keep talking and writing.