Masks are a survival tool... until they're not.
This one is for my network marketing and business friends. Entrepreneurs. Momtrepreneurs. Boss babes. Non Moms.
Whatever you like to call yourself.
Every single one of you (us) has a backstory. Every. Single. One.
Most of you are afraid of it.
How do I know? Because I've been afraid of mine for a really long time!
Here's the thing, though. You shouldn't be afraid of your story, you should embrace it and you should share it. If you share it, people will flock to you, for product or for partnership, because your story is what makes you a real ass human (shout out to my girl Debbie.) Your story is what makes you stand out from the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of other people who run a business just like yours.
You are the attraction in attraction marketing. Your product is not the attraction, your brand name is not the attraction. You, your personality, your story, your fascination factor (shout out to my mentor, Heather) is what attracts people to you and your products.
Busy is a mask.
We love that word, busy, don't we?
I couldn't possibly fit more into my schedule, I'm too busy. I'm far too busy, I can't talk about it. I don't really have time to take care of myself, I've got to take care of everyone else. I'm too busy.
Busy is bullshit. Busy was the mask that I wore for years to avoid processing the hurt and trauma that I had experienced in my childhood and adolescence.
How would I ever have time to work through that shit my stepbrothers did to me?! I'm putting myself through college, I'm volunteering, I'm working part-time, I have an internship, I have to study, I'm way too busy!
Busy was the mask I used to avoid dealing with losing two of my best friends in my senior year of college.
I don't have time to deal with Mark and Jeff dying right now. I'm taking care of my teenage niece, I'm going to school full-time, I have to help take care of Dayton and Dorian, I'm working part-time, I'm still in physical therapy because of that fucking car accident, I'm too busy!
And we wear that mask like a martyr's badge of fucking honor, don't we? I don't have time to take care of myself, I have to take care of everyone else... the fuck kind of sense does that make?! How is that something to flaunt around and be proud about?
You realize you can't take care of anybody when you collapse and burn out, right?
Know what happened to me that senior year of college? I ignored all of my feelings and touted around my busy badge of honor and got a double ear infection, upper respiratory infection, and bronchitis all at once. My friend Brad had to carry my ass to the Emergency Room at like 3:00am one night.
Then, later that year after I graduated from school and had nothing else left to do but think and fucking worry, I got so depressed and anxious I was crippled. For weeks I stayed up until 6:00am drinking beer and crying to Waylon Jennings and Tim Barry records, not showering and wondering what the fuck I was doing with my life.
Then, just for funsies, I got into a perfectly catastrophic and abusive relationship with a drunken asshole because I had spent so much time neglecting myself, my needs, and my mental health, that I was the perfect target for a narcissistic emotional succubus to glom onto and suck dry.
I could have saved myself a Hell of a lot of trouble if I'd slowed down and taken care of myself in the first place. But I was too busy.
Perfectionism is a mask.
I get it.
Something happened to you when you were in your formative years that told you that you weren't good enough.
Maybe you suffered physical or emotional, even sexual abuse and trauma.
Maybe you had an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent who consistently imprinted on to your subconscious that you weren't worthy, because they were never around or if they were around they weren't paying any attention to you... you weren't important enough, compared to their next fix or drink.
Somewhere along the way you developed this protection mechanism of doing everything perfectly -- the best grades, the best looks, the best athletic performances, the best extracurricular achievements... whatever.
As an adult you still carry that perfectionism mask around because it's served you well, hasn't it? I mean, look at all you've achieved!
But does anyone in your life really know you? Do your friends and family members feel connected to you? Are there things that you haven't done, dreams you gave up on, because you couldn't get everything just right?
If you're a network marketer or business person -- are you only posting on social media about the perfect and amazing things you're doing? Or, are you posting about your bad days and your mistakes and imperfections, too?
Why should anyone be attracted to you or your story if they can't relate to perfection?
Everyone loves a fucking hero -- that's why the hero formula works so well in novels and movies! No hero has ever been perfect!
You are the hero of your own story... whatever it is you went through, look at you!
You survived! You may have even thrived in spite of what you experienced!
Why wouldn't you want to share that with people?! Why wouldn't you want to get the message out there so that someone else who's living through some shit right now that you lived through years ago and survived, knows that there is life on the other side of this thing?!
Someone you don't even know yet is dying for you to tell your story so that they don't feel alone anymore!
What masks are you wearing, right now?
I actually just went through a mask exercise with my business mentor and coach, Heather Quisel, which is why I decided to write this blog.
So, in the interest of practicing what I preach and driving the point home, I'm going to share with you my journal entry for this exercise:
Definitely used to wear the victim mask. I would tell anyone and everyone everything that happened to me and not in an intentional way of trying to share my story and help others but as a way to make excuses for a behavior or sets of behaviors … especially in romantic relationships. There’s a difference between recognizing how trauma/circumstances have impacted and shaped you and wallowing in that shit. I used to wallow.
At times I can be very center-of-attention-y but others I want nothing to do with the spotlight. It’s basically whatever will compensate for whatever I’m not getting enough of, or wasn’t getting enough of during a time in my life when I experienced trauma. I think I make fun of myself and my feelings or experiences a lot sometimes because they weren’t taken seriously when I was younger. That seems like a possible coping mechanism I developed. But I also sometimes just love to make people laugh and ease the tension of a situation or conversation topic, etc. Like when telling people about my past maybe it will be less of a downer if I can make light of it somehow. That’s not always necessary or the healthy way to process. That’s telling my subconscious that I’m not to be taken seriously!
It doesn’t take a genius or a therapist to recognize that I have utilized perfectionism and overachiever masks to try and maintain control over my life, my schedule, my body, etc. Hello, college and grad school and graduating from high school a year early. You don’t tell me how to live my life! I’m like an obstinate child, in SEEMINGLY positive ways but it’s all about that fucking guard and protectionism.
Aggression and toughness is definitely a mask that I’ve utilized throughout major periods of my life. Which is funny because I’m actually one of the most empathic, sensitive, and compassionate people I know but I’ll put this guard up and be ready to fight somebody at the drop of a hat as a way to protect myself and the vulnerability I’m experiencing. Read: every street brawl and bar fight I’ve ever been in. It took me a long time to learn the difference between assertion and aggression, and utilize assertion more than aggression and sometimes I still fall into old habits. Like when I, 'go Flint Kid' and starting cussing and start talking shit about being violent or fighting someone, especially on behalf of a friend or family member. Most people will obviously be more drawn into the sensitive, empathic Kelly. Why not share her more?
Sharing your story is so scary, though.
I know, right? Scariest shit I've ever done. I'm writing a memoir right now, for crying out loud! You think I don't know how scary it is to tell your truth, every. single. day?!
But these little things happen to show me that I'm doing the right thing, but living and telling my truth.
Like, for instance, the other day I launched my Author/Public Figure page on Facebook. I wanted to puke when I was holding my figure over the button to publish that page.
I kid you not, legit wanted to throw up. because I was like, 'What if all of the 700+ people on my friends list like, simultaneously unlike/unfollow my author page and don't give a shit about my book or podcast?!"
I literally had that thought!
Here's the thing though, what actually happened when I published that page and made a post about why it existed, is that the support poured out immediately.
The very first comments I got on my page were from someone I'm only just now getting to know, over the past few weeks. I screenshot the exchange because it honestly gave me happy tears and I knew that I would need a reminder and some assurance, basically every damn day, that what I do and say matters and isn't bullshit.
Telling your story can make stuff like this happen, too, I promise you.
And yeah, I have some nay-sayers and shade-throwers in my life. But I don't even usually think about them, only enough to say that I acknowledge they exist.
I prefer to spend my time thinking about other people and things.