Self Expression and Connections

I’m playing with a time machine here and rewinding a bit of recent personal history. I felt the need to start a blog as a means of self-expression. Somehow I got to a point where I felt I had some things about myself that I wanted to say and put out in a public forum. I thought it would get a lot off my chest and give me an avenue for future exploration while giving me the chance to connect with other people on a deeper level. It started off as introspective and moved on to being more expressive with more photos that I took and even some I’ve drawn lately. The thing that pushed me over the edge to actually start was sitting in on a Seth Godin keynote at a conference I attended. I’d been considering it for the reasons I just stated and he said “start a blog”. So I figured I may as well just do it. That first post was about vulnerability and breaking through barriers I’d put up.

This looks better in HaikuDeck

I’m now reading one of his recent books (the first I’ve bought) called The Icarus Deception (no link or plug, look it up if you’d like). Its key message is that connection through art is the next evolution of the economy and society. That our old comfort zones and our old safety zones aren’t aligned with this new reality compared with the older world. I feel a connection with it because I’ve had these realizations on my own and they’ve evolved independently with this blog. My blog has given me that platform for self expression and connection but only because I consciously stepped out of my old comfort zone in order to do so. Inhibitions tell us that we need approval of some type or affirmation but so often these days, it’s just not the case.

As I open the reader app on my iPad, Godin writes that art is untested, intended to connect, and shows something personal about the artist that they believe, want to say or do or change. That’s what I’ve been trying to do here. I’m not saying that his word is definitive and that his definition makes me an artist in everyone’s – or anyone’s – view. The phrase “For me” appears as a phrase in 19% of my posts in this blog so I’m not trying to come across as an expert either. However, if I hadn’t taken the step forward and gone down this path then I wouldn’t have made many connections or said several things I felt compelled to.

For me (21% now), there have been some benefits I hadn’t considered before opening up and doing some of the work needed to experiment with this endeavor. One is that I’ve asked myself some questions that are a few layers deeper than I’d have gone before. A colleague of mine at that team meeting I wrote about talked about investigating the 5 Whys of every problem to get to its root cause. I’ve been taking that approach when trying to choose topics to write about. I don’t want to write The 7 Steps to Blah Blah Blah because that’s not the goal here. The goal is for me to understand what makes me tick and see if that helps explore how I live and relate with others.
Is the road to self expression really blocked?
Is the road to self expression really blocked?
Another benefit is that it’s seemed to work on a personal level. I’ve had some really good conversations which have come about as a result of some of my posts. Some of those have been online and some have been in person. I’ve had some terrific talks with my wife, parents, friends, and co-workers which only happened because I wrote about a relevant topic. From what I’ve seen, the willingness to write something genuine helps other people look at a topic they’d either avoided or hadn’t been able to frame on their own. Then, because it’s already being discussed, it’s OK to join in and make their own connection.

Lastly, I’ve actually felt more creative which is gratifying. I’ve changed the way I work in some cases and am often hunting for different ways to express myself. There are times when a work setting work isn’t quite right for this and the blog is a great way to try things out. The sketches in my last few entries were precursors to a very engaging meeting I lead which could have easily been death by PowerPoint.

Digitally Anonymous
Here’s a last bit which actually is advice. I’ve started using this avatar of Magritte’s Son of Man in an iPhone for a reason. The painting was used in the modern Thomas Crown Affair as a reference to an anonymous business man. The person the police were hunting for could be anyone. Today’s digital world means that the person writing this could be anyone. Any of us can take the chance and express ourselves. You don’t need to be an expert or perfect in order to have an opinion or world view. Whether it’s an ongoing blog, creative photography, more open and insightful posts in social media, or something else entirely, you can change the world just a bit by making new connections.

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