We’ve all been victim of telling a story that seemed funnier or more interesting when it happened, then when we were recalling it later online or with different friends who weren’t there. It can be awkward, but no less important to feel emboldened to recall stories that have meaning for us.
It’s hard to know where to begin, really. When I’m asked for a biography or find myself redesigning my personal sites for the 1000th time, I sometimes (always?) struggle with picking out the right information to showcase. Does anyone care about that one award you won as a sophomore in college? Or that you were office member of the year in your current role? Maybe volunteering really matters to you. Does it matter to someone reading your bio?
There are lots of blog posts out there telling the best ways to write a biography. But I’m less concerned about bios and more interested in how we construct our identities on the web. We tell our stories in myriad ways from the tweets we share, to the things we post on Facebook. For those of us with websites of our own, there’s a struggle to discover how much of yourself people need to see. Are you trying to consult? Just want folks to join you on Pinterest? It’s hard to know where the line is and so, many of us just buy a ton of domains to figure it out.
I asked a friend recently to read a sample bio I’d written for myself on LinkedIn. He looked at it and told me “this is great. Except you don’t sound like a human. I have no idea what you’re trying to say amongst all of these buzzwords. Speak human to me, Ron.” In a race to sound and be as “impressive” as possible, there’s a penchant to want to write in the third person and share as much esoteric impressiveness as one can fit into a few stanzas.
In resisting this urge, we give way to a much better way of seeing ourselves as people as opposed to characters. Our stories matter. While no one wants to read hundreds of words splayed on a page with no real end or reason, telling your story helps you stand out in a world where everyone is trying to fit into some kind of unnatural box that’s not made for them. The oddity of trying to conform to stand out, is probably a trap I’ve inhabited for too long.
While I still am not entirely sure what I’ll end up writing to replace what my friends helped me see wasn’t all that great, I realize that my best relationships online have been cultivated through the personal tidbits that people remember about me over the years. Think of your best self and project that in word and in deed. The words are likely to follow.