Of Vanity, Confidence, Holiness, and Esteem
During the revision and rewrite of this post, it became clear the importance of navigating through this touchy topic with a bit of light. The kind of light that will help a reader feel hopeful. Grounded hope, that is.
At the core of the topic is the question of personal brand. Using the marketing terms, we all portray a certain image.
The struggle has been to present the right light, the right look, the right impression. Things are changing today because people are growing tired of polished brands that are not realistic to achieve.
No one bounces back from major injury in matters of hours. No one eats a given meal and then their bodies change instantly. No one looks insta-famous 24hr a day. People want real. People want human. They want to relate.
In my years of experimenting online to cultivate the right image, I found out that I was projecting the more boring parts of me as the idealized version of me. As you can guess, I got very few eyeballs to stick around and follow me.
What was game changing, and will continue to be, is accepting myself for who I am.
I basically had to say to myself “listen… you’re a complex person. You’re worthy to be loved as you are. And it’s ok to strive to change and improve. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. Just go and be great”.
As simple as that sounds, it’s the culmination of many years of work to accept the fact I like a lot of things that some may not think I should like.
My brand will not connect with everyone, nor should it. I’m not perfect. I’m not able to connect perfectly with everyone. However, I will connect with some. Only with those who I connect with can relate to me.
Simply put, people connect to people and are influenced by those they connect with. If that was not the case, the expression “birds of a feather flock together” would not work or make sense.
When I embraced myself and worked to improve, I made progress. It did involve addressing my spirituality as well as my sociology and psychology. Let me break this down in terms of today’s topic.
It’s All in the approach
When I was worried about the “holy-police” I walked around in fear of getting caught. I projected the lack of confidence. I projected awkwardness.
My extra vigilance drew attention to the natural awkwardness of adolescence. Whenever I spoke with a woman, my nervousness came through very clearly.
Humans are pretty decent at reading other people’s ‘energy’ through the means of body language.
Yeah. I made a few people nervous because of my own nervousness. The “holy-police” rode my coat-tail comfortably because they could sense my discomfort with ease. They even said “if you feel off about it, isn’t that proof that it’s a sin?”. Yeah… as if being awkwardly nervous to speak to the high school prom queen was a sin!
Once I made peace with myself that I was not sinning by noticing what a woman wore, compliments were easier to make. I was more able to focus on reading social cues to know if a compliment made sense or not. There was no pressure to manufacture the perfect line.
As a result, people were able to relax more about me. They didn’t think much of the compliment and took it for what it was. In fact, today, several friendships took off because of a compliment I made.
Most icebreakers in social settings do start off as an observation of the weather, a compliment about something, or a reflection about current events.
This brings in the notion of your net-worth being found in your network. Having people who share your beliefs, share your ideals, share your vision, is a great asset in helping you elevate your game. That goes without saying… you’ve got to know what network to build. This applies to everyone, no matter your ideological belief system. It’s part of being human.
Just because I’m more comfortable with myself doesn’t mean I will always present every side of myself to every single social encounter I have. I’m a professional at work. I’m a dad, husband, and friend at home. I’m a son with my parents. You’re not going to catch me promoting my photography or writing interest in the middle of a bible study. There is a time and place for everything.
That being said. I no longer go out of my way to sanitize myself for the sake of public opinion. This is an ongoing process. It’s a struggle. The right balance changes all the time. Before I became a dad, dating my wife was easy. Now, as a dad, I have to plan a whole lot more to continue to date my wife.
She was able to wear heels whenever she wanted, but now my wife has to be more strategic for the sake of practicality. As a supportive husband, I have to make sure to valet the car, carry the extra bags, and walk more slowly so that my wife feels I’m empathetic to her needs as a supermom.
Which ties back to the discussion with my buddy online. Being authentic about life coaching means showing up as who you are to help inspire others. She’s got a personality based brand. She wears heels. It’s no secret. Everyone who sees her in real life sees when she wears heels. She now is brining this to the digital space. It’s part of her brand.
Those who don’t want a health coach who wears heels don’t have to be surprised when they work with her. They already see this online and can self-select out of doing business with her. Saves everyone the headache of being surprised and awkwardly trying to tip-toe around the issue later on.
Same goes for her religious beliefs. They influence her choices. She’s still a professional. Her views influences the types of clients she wants to work with. There is no law stating she must accept and reach out to every single human on the planet. Her marketing reflects what she does, so people can decide for themselves if she’s the provider they want to work with.
In my case, had I not taken as many photos as I had, I wouldn’t be as good as I am. With regards to this blog, I had not improved the craft of seeing stories behind photos, my ability to write fiction would not have grown to the levels it has. I started writing off of images that spoke to me and expanding on them. I didn’t want to do another car blog… not that I don’t enjoy it. Romance writing just appealed to my creativity a bit more. Sorry…not sorry… holy-police.
Moderation in Everything
One of the useful tools from my spiritual journey is the understanding of moderation. I don’t have the perfect understanding of this, as it’s a moving goal post everyone has to strive to learn.
The minute you think you’ve figured it out, life changes and you’ve got to sort moderation out again.
Humans love to over complicate things. I’ll use the example of alcohol here.
Can we drink? Should we drink? Is it right or wrong to drink?
What works for you may not work for me. Some can drink a lot and are fine. Others can’t handle a little drink.
Moderation, however, works wonders. It simply means… learn yourself… seek wisdom… and find that happy lovely middle ground that works.
In my case. I love having all my senses recording life events. So. I don’t drink. Not because of religion or someone told me it’s illegal (which is not the case where I live). I just don’t like feeling like I’m impaired in any capacity… including sleep deprivation. My opinion was solidified when I nearly got killed by a drunk driver twice. I don’t want any impairment to impact my ability to stay safe.
But thanks to this thing called moderation, I am not afraid to touch alcohol, if I ever decided to touch it. And thanks to moderation, I’ve not guilt feelings about ever having touched alcohol… for educational purposes… lol.
Clearly, there are things in this world that can’t be addressed from the perspective of moderation. Oh… examples like… nuclear arms… or terror practices. Those things tend to fall into the “heck no” category but let’s not digress too much.
High Heel Conclusion… Everything in Moderation
Bottom line, humans will like so many different things that there is bound to be someone who dislike what one likes. Can’t please everyone. Nor should you. One’s faith has influence on what one opts to do. The relationship one nurtures within their faith will influences what they should do. It’s between God and the believer. We shouldn’t step inside that bond and try to police how someone should practice their faith. This is different from building a relationship with a person and providing them welcomed admonition and advice.
I can’t say I will always be ahead of the “holy-police” in all that I do. I do find the expression funny. At any rate, I don’t do things to gain massive approval ratings. I do work to share an uplifting thought or idea because that’s one of the things I feel I’m here to do. A calling of sorts.
What we wear does not make us any less holy or more holy. What we ascribe to these items may appear to give a degree of holiness. Of course, this blog is not touching what is actually holy.
What we have within our hearts is far more important than what we do on the outside. Most of what we do on the outside is a reflection of something coming from within.
Our kindness, our patience, our understanding will color what people see. Even though, what people see will often color their choice about sticking around to see what’s within. First impressions are so hard to break.
Lead from a confident position and let your tribe grow about and around you. We can’t please everyone. We just can develop a thick enough skin not to worry about those who were never supposed to like us to begin with.
While you’ll not catch me touting the benefits of fashion at a venue where I’m discussing the various perspective of love, I won’t shy away from a healthy fashion conversation either.
As the case of my online friends who have fashion interests, their tribe has stood up for them in many cases to push back against the unsolicited opinions of the fashion police. The same can happen for anyone who stands in authentic truth. People will stand with you. Just can’t tell you who these people are specifically nor recommend you rely on them either. However, online, on social media, the right tribe will advocate for you.
Moderation is such a beautiful thing. There are situations that called for more and others calling for less. One can’t use a singular size fits all approach in moderation.
For my heeling friends, this means there will be days that 100mm will make more sense than 120mm. Just like there will be days when 20mm is the preferred option. Mercifully, there are sneakers/trainers for just about every occasion one can imagine. However, under the right conditions, even 130mm can make all the sense in the world. Moderation knows the difference and will guide you to the right solution if you’re open to wisdom.
With regards to my blogging, I’ve had to think about branding a lot recently. Most viewers come from my social media platforms that have showcased a lot of my heeling photography. To that end, where it makes sense, some posts will focus on high heel photos… in moderation of course. Just like the posts that has nothing to do with fashion will not have fashion images to go with.
I’m not planning to change my branding a ton. I’m enjoying the creative outlets that I’ve built. The main difference today is that I don’t shy away from any of my interests like I used to when I was younger. You meet me and you’re getting me. Life is simpler that way.
As with the “On Fire Fit” discussion that sparked this blog post, whenever you’re on her social media or YouTube channel, you get to see all of her interests. Her love for her God, her husband, her career, and life is very evident.
Whenever her husband buys her heels, you’re going to see it show up on her social media. She’s not afraid to share that bond with the world. This doesn’t make her any less holy… nor does it mean she’s inviting criticism… or worse… unsolicited catcalls. She’s just connecting with her tribe in the way she feels is most authentic.
Speaking of social media… let’s cut this chit chat a bit short and move on to some posts with high heel images, shall we… lol. I will touch on my gearhead tendencies another day.