Can I just say that titles like this make me cringe? ha. And then they make me defensive because don’t tell me how to live my life, thanks. And then I get on my soap box about how the very things we learned not to do in writing courses now herald allegedly scientific ‘study results’ about Why You Should or Actually You Shouldn’t start your day with apple cider vinegar and how this set of exercises can change your body type. But back to the topic at hand… I’ve been meaning to rant about this since January, and have recently been triggered by spending too much time on Pinterest. Ahem,
5 REASONS WHY I’M NOT DISPOSED TO BRANDING MY SELF:
Reason # 1 – I am not a product; not an object; not a project. I’m a person. I’m a mist. I think the reason we tend to do this at all, let alone decide it’s a good idea is because we (as a society) have tied our worth to our ability to produce and contribute and earn and work and achieve. We don’t tend to believe in the inherent dignity of an image-bearer of God, or value a person as unaffected by her evident contribution to society. But I do! I believe that my value and worth and dignity don’t need to be proven, and I am determined to live more deeply in that truth. I am committed to doing fewer things at a time and pacing myself and sleeping when the sun goes down and taking it easy for the few days of the month when my uterus is falling out. I want to delight in and honor God with my humanity the way flowers fulfill their destinies just by standing tall and facing the sun.
Reason # 2 – It makes changing harder than it already is. It’s hard for me to write posts like this because I don’t like to be disagreed with and I like to be Right and I am no stranger to the fact that I might as well be 87 years old as far as society is concerned. ha. But this difficulty I have is tangentially related to why I’m not inclined to brand myself… Because what if I change my mind later on? But I’ve already committed to being and believing waving this particular flag? I feel like on some level the goal of branding oneself is to be niched and associated with a certain something. Or with a little bit of everything. But if at some point, you decide to hone in and focus, or broaden your personal horizons, having made a brand of your actual self – seems like quite the obstacle to overcome. At least it would be for me.
Reason # 3 – It ironically derails my focus. Although the purpose of branding yourself is to streamline your approach, tunnel yourself into a work flow, and align yourself with the appropriate band of brethren, I’m sure I would become focused on maintaining and managing; remaining consistent and recognizable. I would start to ask the wrong questions. The litmus test would become whether or not this opportunity, collaboration, or relationship is consistent with or would benefit me as a brand and my bottom line. Rarely has that ever been the best filter for anything.
Reason # 4 – It activates the perfectionism in me. I would want to perfectly and at all times embody and represent and emanate The Brand. If I am creating a product or delivering a service, or even recording a take of a song through Evernote on my iPhone, I want nothing short of at least perceived perfection. I want my best foot and face forward at all times. I do think that a brand and a business, the work you do should be taken seriously and have as few flaws as possible… but if I am my business and my brand, I tend to take myself far too seriously.
In some ways, dehumanization – by way of becoming a brand – is inevitable. If I am branding my actual self, I invite the same expectations of my-self-as-a-person as would be placed on a machine or an organization or another entity that is life-like but not, itself, human. It’s hard(er) to sabbath, admit mistakes, accept limitations. My worth becomes precariously connected to my productivity, my perfection, my ability to stay current. I don’t think we’re designed to live that way.
Reason # 5 – It’s not necessary. The times that I have been most interested in branding myself have been the seasons in which I was wanting to be known for something for the sake of recognition itself, and so that someone would pay me to do it. Lust of the eyes; lust of the flesh; pride of life… I have a great deal of respect for businessmen and women, for entrepreneurs, and for artists who are able to support themselves by packaging and presenting their art or their product or their strategies, but there is an undeniable cultural shift towards branding ourselves in a way that blows past simply naming and registering an entity, consulting clients, or directing art projects.
I am not claiming to be above or beyond this in the sense of never falling prey to its allure, but I do question the wisdom of this shift, and am wary of its implications… Do I really need to become or embody my art, my product, my idea? Do I have to be defined by what I make or think or the moments I’ve managed to capture? If every church I have a hand in planting has the same ‘marketing’ strategy, culture, and standardized way of getting started regardless of the city, state, or continent; if my image and identity feel so fragile and essential that I am inspired to try and trademark my surname, have we maybe ridden this train too far?
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