I needed a theme to connect this week's post to Valentine's Day, so self-love it is! When I refer here to self-love, I mean it in the sense of truly seeing yourself, warts and all, while also appreciating your strengths. I spent so many years beating myself up because I couldn't fit into what I believed were measures for success. When I visualized success, it was a corporate version: a woman with straight hair (no flyaways), beautiful (let's be real), in a clean cut and tailored suit, tasteful makeup and an easy command of the room. She didn't stumble over her words, she didn't show up to work with frizzy hair and she certainly didn't giveaway any insecurities. I was constantly disappointed in myself because I couldn't fit into this self-imposed mold. I chided myself on being overly sensitive and vulnerable and as a result, I was constantly anxious and could not enjoy my day-to-day.
And then one day, in a revelatory moment, my therapist asked me to listen to those anxious, negative thoughts and to flip them around. Where were the places, situations and moments where I did feel good? Perhaps that's what I needed to pay attention to, because clearly my brain was trying to tell me, this whole time, what was really important to me. And once I started to listen, rather than assign myself to a box that I thought the rest of the world wanted me to be in, gaining confidence and defining my "brand" became a whole lot easier. Of course at that time I wouldn't have called it a brand, just a realization of how and where I felt more comfortable and more like myself. And wouldn't you know it, I started to like myself better too because I wasn't constantly putting on a mask, trying to be someone else. Not to say I don't have my days of self-doubt or self-loathing; I think as artists that's a cloud that frequently hangs overhead! But man, is it a lot better than where I was about 10 years ago.
When you start to develop a personal brand, you'll realize that a key component of it is doing a self-assessment, digging deep to ask yourself, who are you? How do others currently seeing you and does that assessment match up to who you think you really are? What's important to you in this world? What is the value you would like to put out there through your creative projects? As you do this exercise, I want you to pay attention and be kinder to yourself than I was. Don't let your judgement be overshadowed by what you think would make you a success. That's whole the point of personal branding - what makes you unique is precisely your value offering. So go ahead, practice some self-love.