There’s a difference between what we think and what we say. We filter everything.
The moment you know your writing is going to be read by others your writing changes. That’s why you can’t journal on Facebook. That’s not journaling. Journaling is a private conversation.
[Tweet “The moment you know your writing is going to be read by others your writing changes”]
When we know we have an audience it changes what you say. We’re less honest. We’re more safe.
Do you speak the same in your head to your spouse as you do outloud? What about your boss? What about your children? Do you talk to God the same in your mind as you do praying out loud in a circle of friends? No. The audience changes the words. The audience changes our honesty.
As creators, writers, and artists we feel compelled to be honest, be vulnerable, and keep our image in tact. We have a brand, a persona, and an expectation from our readers. Those fight against each other with every tap of the keyboard.
[Tweet “When we know we have an audience it changes what you say. We’re less honest. We’re more safe.”]
I have no idea what my brand is. I can’t seem to chase it down. I may be doing this whole business thing wrong but I struggle with what my brand is because I’m changing. I’m changing all the time. Aren’t you? I’m glad God stays the same because even though He doesn’t change I still have a hard time understanding Him. The rest of us should be changing. We should be learning, being broken, rebuilding, apologizing, striving, and resting.
This is why brands are so confusing when you’re the brand. I’m beginning to think it’s not healthy that we follow people. Those people can never be what we want them to be. We won’t stop following people though. People are loyal to Subway because of Jared. People bought popcorn because they liked the friendly Orville Redenbacher.
People Over Brands
We long for relationships so we attach personalities to brands. It’s easier to find connection with a person than it is a brand. When you’re the brand though, it can get messy.
The interesting fact about brands is that you don’t get to choose what your brand will be. Your audience chooses that.
Knowing your brand is important but only if it helps you be more honest with yourself. I’m 37 years old and I’ve started to think more about my mortality. Mortality gives me freedom to be honest. If I had one hour left in my life I would forgive my wife for anything she’s ever done against me. That wouldn’t be much. My children would receive my unfiltered attention and I would speak what I really believe. What if that one hour is really 10 years? How would I write if I only had 10 years? Different, I would write different. I want to write different.
I get to live once so my brand is as best as I can what I want it to be. I’ve become less interested in writing about what others are expecting and more interested in what I really believe.
Conformity is a monster and he hunts me down every day.
[Tweet “Conformity is a monster and he hunts me down every day.”]
My favorite pastors have a messy past. They’ve failed in some obvious way. I love Marc Driscoll. He’s a mess. He’s broken. I love him. Do I believe in his theology? I’m not smart enough to argue with his theology. What I know about him is that he’s been humbled. He’ll return to the pulpit someday a different man. He’ll be more like Jesus and that’s a man I want to listen to.
If we all know that we’ve failed then we can stop pretending we’ve got it all figured out. We can move together as an army of imperfect and forgiven people instead of spending energy pretending. Vulnerability is awesome and the audience says they want it. As a writer I want to be vulnerable but then judgement comes.
Christians are the worst at this. Can you imagine your counselor criticizing you for having doubts or sharing your fears? We pounce on each other when we find something we disagree with. It’s near impossible to be vulnerable when you’re expecting judgement.
So we stay in the middle. We write less words. We just stop writing. Worse, we lie. We write safe words that do not move our souls, hearts, or thinking.
When words are only used to affirm our beliefs we have neutered the words. The words that could bring life are now powerless. If you never changed how would you feel? Are you content to be the same person you are today, forever? Lord I hope not. I hope you want to grow. I hope you want to be more humble. I hope you want to be more generous. I want all of those things.
[Tweet “When words are only used to affirm our beliefs we have neutered the words”]
We only get those things if we’re willing to be honest and vulnerable with others.
Don’t make promises you won’t keep. I’m not going to promise you anything. I’m going to try. I’m going to try and write more honest words. I’m going to try and be more vulnerable. I’m going to try and inspire you by doing instead of saying.
My brand is Take Permission and I’m going to take permission first. I have to or I’m a liar. I can’t ask you to do what I’m not willing to do.
We struggle to write what we really think because we fear each other. Perhaps what we should fear more than criticism is being dishonest with ourselves, with who we were made to be. The saddest thing about our lives is not living them as well as we could because we’re ruled by fear of other imperfect people’s judgement.
[Tweet “We struggle to write what we really think because we fear each other.”]
We struggle to write what we really think because we are afraid. Don’t be afraid. Be honest that you’re on a journey of imperfection. Join the club. We all are.