Be more painfully aware.
I started blogging in 2006* right after I finished college (though I didn’t launch this particular blog until a year and a half later). Today, many students are blogging while they are still in school, and almost every student is posting publicly on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. It’s a very different environment to grow up in when key moments, fumbles, mistakes and downright fails are posted publicly for the world to see.
I have been reading this extremely enlightening–and perhaps slightly depressing–book based on the blog You Are Not So Smart. The book is all about self-delusion, how our brains trick us into thinking we are smarter and better than we actually are. I am enjoying the book because knowing exactly what is going on in your brain is probably the smartest thing anyone can do, which is further reinforced by the themes in the book.
Anyway, remember when building your career, how everything was rosy and when things did go badly there was a grandiose life-defining lesson that you are very proud of? Remember how you essentially made every right decision? How you were smarter and more composed than ‘kids today’? How you wouldn’t change a thing because it made you how you are today?
That’s probably how you remember it at least. That’s how I remember it to. Thanks brain, you’re nice. However, that’s probably not the way it was. The book has taught me is that we have very little control over our own minds–the only control we really do have is to make up a shiny happy narrative to justify or rationalize the decisions and paths we’ve taken.
Are you bummed out yet? Or you’re angry. Or you’re trying to come up with a witty comment to dispute what I’m saying. Don’t worry though, there is hope! I am going somewhere with this.
When we chronicle our lives publicly, there’s a virtual database of information we can access and assess. That data can help you better understand who you are today (you can’t change who you are and you can’t deny what you’ve done if it’s publicly available). It’s also really interesting.
I was inspired to write this by two recent events: first, the fact that Topsy.com now archives every single tweet ever. The first thing I did was search my user name and see what I posted about in 2007 when I joined. It was definitely enlightening. I was much more of a blogger back then. I was more community oriented. It reminded me that I should take the time to proactively reach out, survey and interact a little more than I have been lately.
The second inspiration was a blog post by Mark Schaeffer, a blog I’ve been reading since it apparently sucked. (You really need to click through to understand why I’d say that.. In truth, I find it very informative and insightful, and always have). He shuffles through thousands of blog posts and reflects on mistakes he used to made and commits to learning from them. He will (continue) to be a better blogger for it, I can assure you.
A few takeaways here:
- Take the time to reflect on and learn from what you’ve done in the past, and don’t just trust your brain to supply the data.
- Remember, when posting anything online, that future-you may be reading it. Hi future Kelly! Hope all is well!
*So I went to the WayBack Machine to find the first blog post I ever wrote on the cardcommunications blog. I find it hilariously awesome that it was about short concise writing–no wonder I would eventually become such a Twitter junkie. See that fun insight?