Public visibility is a wonderful cocktail of euphoria, responsibility, satisfaction, and guilt. Not many people talk about what happens when their “profile” grows. It might be the fear of, you know, being perceived as a raging egomaniac ingrate. But here goes…
An aside… a) I have a great online presence and I’m thrilled. But like, I’m not getting asked for my autograph at the grocery store. My life is super normal. b) I’m not complaining about what comes with the territory. Not even close. c) Visibility nourishes my vocation. I asked for this. And I want more of it to do what I do. I’ve had some deep internal struggles with being seen/being introverted and private. But I’m here to shine and I’m all in.
I was getting some impromptu coaching from my dear friend, Chela. I was telling her that I was feeling a lot of pressure. Requests. A LOT of them. “The volume is nuts, but the worst part is, I’m having to say no to people who helped me in the beginning,” I sighed. “People who had me in their living rooms giving group Fire Starter Sessions, people who gave me feedback on manuscripts, they bought my e-books.” Another sigh. “It’s killing me, but I can’t help out everyone and stay sane. They might be thinking I’ve gotten inflated and detached. It makes me feel like a total b*tch.” Heavier sigh.
“Well we know you’re not an inflated b*tch, so let’s take THAT off the table,” said Chela. (Ok, thanks. I feel better already.) “Maybe it’s weighing on you because you actually really care about people,” she suggested. Truth bone, struck. A few tears. Strange relief. We put on the kettle and talked ’til 2am.
Until I sorted my head and heart out, there was a tangle of priorities and desires: be a present mom, grow a solid gold business, get healthier every week, make my art, look hot on stage, send that birthday gift, call my mom, open more to love, write a guest blog post, write my own blog post, make a smoothie, endorse a book, write my own book, answer a request for career advice that really warranted a phone call and deep response, but try to do it in less than a paragraph so I could actually keep my own work moving; meditate before email; do an interview with someone who caught me at a conference and I said yes to because I was uncomfortable letting them down face-to-face… Gahhhh. On it went. The worst manifestation of the pressure was this:
For months, my first waking thought was, “Who am I going to have to say no to and disappoint today?”
I felt like my friends were pissed with me for being a crap friend. And people who wanted to be my “friend” were pissed with me for not letting them in. I got called elitist for passing on some interviews. (Um, don’t take it personally, man.) Someone accused me of “Forgetting where I came from.” (Not a chance.) Hey, I’m unsinkable, and… I’m very deeply sensing/ sensitive/ empathic. This was really heavy stuff for me. The flow of requests was only going to increase and I knew the shift had to come from within me — and it had to be radical. I craved radical.
PARING DOWN TO SANITY
I pared my life down to the most basic priorities:
Sleep. My son. My creative freedom.
Every request got measured against those three factors. Is that interview taking away from quality time with my kid? Is staying up too late (again) to read that manuscript and write an endorsement going to make me feel depleted tomorrow or can I still keep my energy up? Is the three days it takes for me to fly there and back for a gig better spent in my writing cave creating something that can get to many more thousands of people?
My Core Desired Feelings were my keel, of course: Does doing this help me feel the way I really want to feel?
It was time to clarify my boundaries or kiss my adrenal glands good bye. My heart and health won. I mastered saying “No, thank you.” I had to become more inaccessible so I could have the space to do what I do best — which serves more people in the end.
As it turned out, “Getting bigger” wasn’t just about higher visibility, it was about growing up enough to truly take care of myself and my creations.
THE EXTERNAL… and weird stuff that happens.
- At a big outdoor event, I caught a tweet with my name in it: “OMG my idol is human. Just saw @daniellelaporte come out of the port o’ potty.” Yep. I pee pee. It’s just me.
- A few interviewers intro’d me as a big Internet celebrity (Compared to WHO?!, I thought.) I giggled. It’s just me.
- “You’re the same you in person as you are on the site,” a lady in Ubran Outfitters told me after our quick chat. “What a relief!” Yep. It’s just me.
- People are nervous at events to come up to talk to me. But I’m fully there to be THERE. Come say Hi. Use me up. Like, don’t knock on my hotel room door, but when I’m out, I’m out. It’s just me.
Every time I get approached or receive a hand-written letter or love email, it feels like total grace. And I’m genuinely, thoroughly happy every single time — even that time when I was in a women’s group changing room at a crazy designer sale. I’m in my bra and a skirt that’s way too tight, feeling like a sausage, and someone says…. “Are you…?” Yep, it’s just me.
I looked at people looking at me and had to double check that I was not getting caught in reflections. I questioned myself for two seconds. Am I being gracious because I don’t want them to talk shit about me? No, I AM graciousness. And besides, people will always find a reason to talk shit about you if that’s the kind of person they are. I’m as me as I can be at all times — gracious, not always pleased and vocal about it when appropriate, on time, listening, sometimes aloof (it’s a protection mechanism and when it’s not, it’s just unfortunate for you and me and I apologize,) curious, and kind.
As you become more “familiar” to people, you can feel more like a stranger. Because when you “scale,” some protective measures become essential. Some people came up to me after speaking gigs and told me about their suicidal thoughts. That’s a lot to handle. Some women would need to have a cry with me in the corner (which I can respect and appreciate, and sometimes it’s clean and beautiful, and other times, it’s way messy.) After giving a SIX HOUR presentation, an attendee asked for a photograph with me, and when I didn’t flash the mega watt smile for her, she touched.my.face and said, “Don’t I get that full smile?” I wanted to break her hand.
I could feel all kinds of projections coming at me. People wanted me to have THE answer for them. A noticeable number of people were telling me that I was appearing to them in their dreams.
I set out to take care of my whole “system.” I pulled together a cosmic road crew of an intuitive business strategist, an energy healer (whose name I’ll reveal when his site is ready!), a powerful channeler, an incredible angel expert, and a masterful voice coach to have breakthroughs on my “compleat voice.” I up’d my breathing, meditative and prayer practices, and became very familiar with Arch Angel Michael. It took me about three years to muscle-build my energetic body, to the point where I feel as strong, as open, protected, and guided as I do now. And that’s why I feel “successful” most days. And it’s from that inner strength that I’m about to take some quantum leaps.
I feel terrifically real, sometimes vulnerable, very protective, and always wildly blessed. I’m just going to keep making stuff and saying what I’ve come to say. With an open heart and a big f*cking fence.
Because I’m clearer than ever — and more thankful than ever — that no matter what… it’s just me.
Danielle LaPorte is the creator of The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul — the book that turned into a day planner system, a top iTunes app, and an international workshop program. A Desire Map workshop happens every weekend somewhere in the world. Author of The Fire Starter Sessions and the wildly popular #Truthbomb series, Danielle is also the co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan and co-host of the Beautiful Writer’s Group podcast.
Entrepreneur Magazine calls her “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” A speaker, poet, former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over four million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place online for kick-ass spirituality,” and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes. The Huffington Post named her Twitter feed as one of the “12 of Wisest Twitter Accounts Worth Following.” You can find her @daniellelaporte just about everywhere.