Hey, I get it.
You probably wouldn’t hire an overweight Registered Dietitian. Or an architect with a tacky house. Nothing against some extra weight OR over the top houses, ’cause I’d definitely hire an overweight architect or a tasteless RD. It’s just that usually people expect us – service providers – to be the living proof that we know our sh*t. Be our own business card.
In my case, besides being a writer, I’m a Reiki Master, and people hire sessions from me, so, in a way, I’m in the “energy treatment” business. I hate calling it a business, but the fact is: there is an exchange of money as I provide the service, there is marketing, there is competition, and so on.
You know what people say: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck”. I have to be cool with the fact that my energy practice looks and swims a lot like a business.
To be honest, the quacking is what’s killing me.
As we were discussing, there are expectations of you based on your business. People expect me to be a zen master. Please read the next words almost as a whisper and pausing after each one of them:
Hmmmm. Soooo good, right?
Except I’m not like that. Not at all. Not now, not ever. I’m an anxious-super-neurotic being. OMG! I’m such a fraud!
Of course, it’s been a long way from my original self to my current self – I’m calmER, tranquilER, softER, gentlER and mildER. I’ve changed for real, and I do have a completely new outlook on life. But I’m totally aware that I’m still a bit of a hurricane compared to many people.
And quacking about my business – as in promoting myself – really brings me closer to my old self. It lights up all the anxiety in me.
This online business era has its perks: you can advertise spending little money, and you’re able to showcase and sell your product or service for the whole world. But if you are a one-(wo)man show, and therefore, is on a budget, behold: you’re also going to have to do everything – learn how to do websites, e-mails, social media.
Being consistent with the duck metaphor, most solo entrepreneurs are like ducks. Some people state that ducks are the ultimate animals as they swim, fly, and walk on land. Truth be told – they don’t do either of them REALLY well. But I don’t want to complain. Overall it is a HUGE opportunity. If you are a service provider (not selling physical products), you can add one layer to that: really putting yourself out there. Lives, podcasts, videos, and pictures. As mentioned before, be your own business card, but also BROADCAST it.
I don’t consider myself an introvert per se, as I can be shockingly open up about my life, but I’m definitely a ‘petit comité’ person. I get really anxious about talking in public. Thinking about having to become an influencer to thrive in my business is like torture.
You can top that with two things: 1) I’m originally from Brazil, a major catholic country, so culturally speaking promoting yourself is bad and so is getting rich (not that people will explicitly say that, but I can tell you that being rich is almost a sin); 2) I’m trying to develop my business in the US and having English as a second language can be intimidating. Not being AT LEAST understood is my worst nightmare. Trying to quack in English and end up clucking.
Just the other day, I was invited to talk. I had 15 minutes, and I decided to present a Chakra exercise, more specifically, a 7 movement routine. I know, it seems challenging to talk about 7 things in 15 minutes. But I wanted to give people the most value possible.
I cried like a baby the day before the presentation. I was so stressed I felt like puking. Finally, I did it. I was relieved. I had the feeling it all happened so fast. I told myself that this “fast paced” sensation was probably psychological.
After doing it, I watched myself and went into some deep crisis. It wasn’t psychological. It was too fast. Like I was in fast-forward all the time. It was terrible. I was so nervous, and anyone watching it could tell. I mean… how can I sell tranquility sounding like a crackhead? I was speaking so fast that I probably sounded like just one high-frequency pitch (maybe some supersonic radar in LAX understood me).
As my friend was trying to cheer me up saying I didn’t sound like a “chopper” (fast talking rappers), she said: “How can you know you were too fast?”
“Math” – I told her – “I was supposed to do it in 15 minutes. I did it in 10. Now, listen to this: I introduced myself, explained the importance of taking care of your energy, did the routine not once – but twice, and presented every movement using a presentation – all 7 of them… in 10 minutes.”
Her silence was a loud warning that I was right. I gotta recognize, though, that in the middle of my flood of information, English as a second language was the least of my problems to communicate. Kudos to me? Not sure. I don’t think I fixed that, just managed to build bigger problems. But it’s always good to change perspective anyway.
Some deep impostor syndrome followed the call with my friend. The feeling that it made no sense that, to become the “go-to” person for relaxation for a broader audience, I would have to go through such an emotional breakdown. I was contemplating whether to close my business, until I meditated and remembered a book I read a couple of months ago that told the story of someone who stopped idolizing her yoga instructor after a party at the instructor’s house (where she came to know the teacher was full of addictions, problems, human flaws). The author of the book told the complaining person that she was only so good and sensitive as a teacher because she was walking the same path. Living the weaknesses of the flesh, so she understood what others were going through and could positively guide them.
Which brings us back to our case (oops – my case, sorry to get you involved, reader… I’m feeling so intimate already by sharing all that).
Not that I find myself overly sensitive as the Yoga teacher, but after reading this, I began to wonder that maybe I could talk about seeking a more peaceful life BECAUSE I was just like the audience: fast-paced, nervous, facing challenges. To be fair and recognize my merit, after all the turmoil, I was able to find enough stillness to recall a positive message for myself and regain balance. And to watch the clip and take notes to improve myself.
Sure enough, I’m not a Zen role model. And I don’t want to be. I’m a process-of-becoming-Zen temporary exhibition (that will have new pieces in a bit). And I would find that more relatable and worth watching than some unachievable monk mind.
What I want you to take from this is: don’t duck from failure – pun intended! Keep it real, keep it useful for your growth, and you’ll soon be able to quack a joke about it!
p.s.: I’d love to hear about what YOU overcame on the last months