[Hey, it’s me. This post is one in a series I’ll be writing as part of Nike Women’s Make Yourself movement, and gets a bit personal. If that’s not your thing, I totally understand. Go grab some turkey and pumpkin pie a little early this year and we’ll see you back after the American holiday.]
Something cool happened a few weeks back – Nike called. They said that over the next few months they’d be collaborating with 20 female bloggers to help them build a new community around the Nike Women mantra of “Make Yourself”. I was asked if I’d consider being part of what they were doing. Though somewhat intimidated by that notion, the former athlete inside of me agreed before I could stop her. My first assignment per Nike: Share the story of how I’ve “made myself”.
You want to vomit, right? I know. I had the same reaction.
When I was first asked how I made myself, my initial response was to scrunch up my face and wonder what the hell, exactly, people think I’ve made here. But, as Outspoken Media prepares to turn two (TWO!), we get cozy in our new Troy, NY office, and we continue to sign dream clients, I think that maybe I have created something. I (along with my amazing partners Rae and Rhea, of course) have created the opportunity to support myself and a growing team of employees, doing something we believe in, in a way that we believe in. And that’s something to be proud of. How did I do it? How did I “make myself”?
With two things:
- An unrelenting belief that I could.
- A desire to show anyone who ever told me I “couldn’t” how wrong they were.
In essence, I’ve built myself on an intense desire to prove you wrong. And if you’re familiar with me either online or in real life, none of that will surprise you.
I’ve blogged before about the difficulties I face communicating and how it’s had a substantial impact on my life. As they say, “it is what it is” and it’s just another thing that makes me Lisa. But I think anyone who has grown up feeling “different” or who’s been seen as “lesser than” comes to a point where they see there are two options: Accept what other people have decided for you or don’t. I decided early on in my career that I wouldn’t
I think it’s been easier for me to stand out because I’ve always had to. I’ve often felt that people who grow up “normal” probably feel a lot more pressure to conform than those who do not. Yesterday, Shoemoney blogged about how being fat gave him a huge edge, and I think it’s completely similar. The crosses you bear give you the character you need to attack the rest of your life. People who fit in often grow up to write blog entries that don’t move people or create campaigns that others barely notice. They blend in because they’ve always blended in. With my speech, I can’t. So I don’t even bother trying. Why not take it to the edge and see how far I can go?
There was a point in my career a few years ago where I stopped looking behind me. Where I stopped analyzing what I was doing wrong and decided to go for it, full strength. It’s when I started caring more about saying something that mattered to me and not at all what people were saying about me. That’s the moment I created a brand. It’s when I created myself. It’s ironic, really. I’ve made myself off a voice that others spent the first part of my life telling me I didn’t have.
While my situation is more dramatic (isn’t it always?), I do think everyone goes through the process when trying to “make” themselves. We all have something that causes us to question what we’re doing. To ask: Is this right? What will people think? Can I really do this? You live your life doing what you’re “supposed” to and bobbing and weaving at all the right times. And that’s fine – until you want to make something remotely interesting. For that, you have to break the norm. The moment you start bobbing and weaving out of tune is when people notice you and when things get interesting.
Call it ego, but I always believed that I was special; that I was the exception to any rule. I believed that if I jumped, I’d find something to land on. And that’s hard – leaping with nothing but blind faith that something will catch you. But there always has been, even if it’s not the something I was expecting. And that’s when stuff gets fun. These days, that’s what I try to do and what I hold in the back in my head. I jump and the rest seems to fall into place.
I made myself by embracing my differences and trusting myself, even when no one else did. The first step to changing the world is the belief that you can. I do. And I will. Just wait.
If you’d like to join or learn more about Nike’s Make Yourself campaign, I’d encourage you to take a look at the females featured on Nike’s Web site, the Nike Women Facebook page or check out the online video ads.
[Note: I'm traveling home to Long Island today to have Thanksgiving with my family. So, I may be slow to respond to comments. However, as usual, I always will. If you're celebrating, have a great holiday. If not, enjoy the quieter Internet.]