This is a picture of me when I was a kid. More specifically, it was when I worked on a temporary contract as a library assistant at NASA’s Ames Research Center back in February 1997.
For a long time, I used that picture as my head shot whenever I was posing as an information professional. I’ve had a few head shots over the years, just as I have had a few information profession talking head outlets over the years.
I’ve read a lot about personal branding and stuff like that with a sense that I’ve done myself a disservice over the years by constantly blowing up the stuff I do: starting and stopping blogs, creating and deleting Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and things like that. Why, I could have been a respected voice in the library and information science profession like Jessamyn West, with her revered website and her thousands of Twitter followers and phone calls from the White House, if I hadn’t destroyed everything I’ve ever done!
The thing is, as you can probably guess if you’ve ever talked to me, I can talk a big game in the moment, but when it comes time to put pen to paper, I can’t help but think I am just a massive fraud.
This does not make me a special snowflake. The fact that The Kids In the Hall can mine laughs from that feeling is an indication of its universality. But in those moments of extreme self-loathing, it’s hard for me to escape from my thoughts: “What am I doing? No one wants to read this! No one cares what I think! DELETE IT ALL! TEAR IT DOWN!”
When I come to my senses, I try and rebuild the dike (to the amusement of people who thought they were already following me on Twitter), but the damage is of course done. Because let’s be honest, who wants to take seriously the blog of someone who is probably just going to delete what he wrote in six months?
But the fact is, part of my problem is my mentality about writing. I have been thinking about how whether or not people are going to listen to what I say and take it seriously or think of me as legit. What I should be thinking about is how to write about what I know, what is true to my work environment, and what is working and what isn’t working in that environment.
Which is a verbose way of saying that I should write what I know and who cares what other people think so long as I am true to myself. Or to put it another way, I’ll just quote a Sondheim lyric:
Stop worrying if your vision is new.
Let others make that decision; they usually do.
You keep moving on.
So here is a picture of me circa now (…well circa February 2015). I am trying one more time to contribute to the profession, trying one more time to say stuff that is important to me, and trying for the first time to not worry if anyone else thinks it’s important. Can I promise I won’t blow up my Twitter account again? No. Can I promise I won’t give up writing a blog about library and information science in three months? No. Can I promise I’m going to try to keep those promises anyway? Yes.
Let’s see how it goes.