What happened when I gave myself permission to be me

Have you ever felt you can’t be your true self unless you ask permission first? I want to tell you a little about me but I worry that you will think I am a failure.
Jan 26

The power of permission

Have you ever felt that you can’t be your true self unless you ask permission first?

Do you feel as if there is unwritten rule that says ‘thou shall be and do what is expected of you’. And if for some reason, you don't ask for permission to break that rule - you risk others giving you the side-eye. Or worse.

So how do you know when that risk is worth taking?

Whatever choice I make I want my heart to sing. Not sink.

Sing!

I want to tell you a little bit about me.

Not sink.

But I am fearful.

I fear being rejected.

I fear you will laugh at me.

Most of all, I fear being pitied.

It isn’t easy for me to admit that I struggle.

Librarians, like many other professions are under pressure.

We are pressured to report successes not failures. Progress not obstacles.1

I feel the same pressure with The Library Boss. And it is not how I want it to be.

I don’t want pity or sympathy. I want your permission to have an honest conversation with you.

But I worry that you will think I am a failure.

Honesty requires courage

I go around and around trying to figure out if I’m good enough. Trying to figure out the best way to help librarians be less frustrated when it comes to embracing things digital.

My dream for The Library Boss is to build a small supportive community of librarians from around the world who want to flourish at work, and who also want to reach out and share what they know with others.

Perhaps I am listening to the wrong experts because the fill-in-the-blank templates and formulas for success just don’t seem to work. They should work. Thousands of people claim to have used them successfully. So why don’t they work for me? What am I doing wrong?2

I have so many conversations with myself. Why does this have to be so hard!? Is this worth the time? What if I change my mind? How will I know?

And after much angst and several bouts of serious navel-gazing; I have come to a realisation.

I am fed up of trying to fit into a box labelled ‘success’. A box that seems to value pushy marketing and fabulous lifestyles more than what actually matters to me - intelligence, generosity, curiosity, and honesty.

We are so conditioned to living in a world of labels and neat little packages.

I cannot be a neat little package. I am messy and chaotic. And I change my mind way too often to fit into any package.

So instead of trying so hard to become a neat little 'successful' package; I have granted myself permission to be me.

I have given myself permission to embrace who I am.

To know that I am enough.

I am a librarian not a marketer

I am supposed to align myself with a target audience that consists of at least one million people to increase my chances of making regular profitable sales.

Obviously librarianship isn't large enough. But how could I seriously consider something other than librarianship?

I am a librarian. Not a marketer. And I have no intention of becoming one.

So I will to talk to you as one librarian to another. I’ll share with you my experiences and ideas to help you become more comfortable in digital spaces. You might find it interesting. You might not.

I am a librarian not a vendor

I’m supposed to create shiny new products and convince you to buy them with clever sales pitches that conveniently reveal nothing about how time-consuming or impractical they really are to use.

I know what librarians think about money-guzzling vendors that do this.

I am a librarian. Not a vendor. And I have no intention of becoming one.

So although I may not dazzle you with shiny new things; you can rely on me to give you all the information you need to make up your own mind about whether what I offer is of value to you or not.

I am a person not a commodity

I am supposed to have professional lifestyle shots like those that mimic America’s Next Top Model – chin up, look fierce, force a bit of casualness while wearing beautifully designed, ridiculously expensive and uncomfortable clothing. Then…with a touch of magic…there I would be; looking gloriously buffed and perky.

I don't even like selfies. And I can’t imagine anything worse than superficial posing.

I cannot be perfect; because perfect like success, is an illusion.

I am me. And I am enough.

Conclusion

So what happened when I gave myself permission to be me?

I learned that it is okay to feel confused. When you follow someone else's rules it is easy to get lost along the way. So I stopped and allowed my confusion time to unravel.

By listening to my heart, I learned it is also okay to ignore what you’re supposed to do because it doesn’t feel right. My heart doesn’t overthink things like my head does.

And as a result I felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from me.

I felt relieved when I accepted that I don't have to play by the rules if they don't work for me. But I don't have to break them either.3

I feel excited because I want to share my ideas with you. They may resonate with you. Or they may not. But they feel right for me.

You are one of a kind. Own your uniqueness and focus on the things that make your heart sing.

I am enough.

You are enough.

You. Are. Enough.

I give myself permission to embrace who I am. I am enough.​ #TheLibraryBoss

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Spark Notes

  • I wanted to write a 'behind-the-scenes' post. It was partly prompted by Austin Kleon's wonderful book Show your work.
  • I didn’t intend for it to be quite so personal but hey, I obviously needed a pep talk. 🙂
  • To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop fighting. – ee cummings
  • 1 Success is convenient and stops us from having to defend our ego and reputation.
  • 2 It is human nature to want someone to tell you what to do when you're not an expert. But is there any value in a cookie-cutter approach?
  • 3 Award winning journalist, author and entreprenuer Mridu Kullar Relph and Rebelle Society offer two very different but hugely empowering perspectives on being you.
  • Sally T says:

    Sally, thank you. I’m using this post like exposure therapy, reading it every week or so and each time I feel I am enough, just a little bit more. Let’s keep doing life our way!

  • Kim Salamonson says:

    Hi Sally You have always inspired me to achieve and you always look so vibrant positive and strong, no sign of fear. Wow. Thank you for being so honest and leading by example. I can’t tell you how much I resonate with what you said.

  • Meg says:

    Hi Sally,

    Wow. Thank you for being so honest and leading by example. I can’t tell you how much I resonate with what you said.

    Thank you for being you and bringing all of you to the table!

    Meg

  • Robin Covington (used to be Young) says:

    Hi Sally! I have very much missed your tweets and blog posts, but here you are again! I am not in libraries at the moment but still want to keep up with what is going on. I will follow your posts, and just wanted to let you know I needed your post right now! Thank you!

  • Pikiora says:

    Awesome Post Sally. Love your bravery and honesty! <3

    • Sally Pewhairangi says:

      Thanks Pikiora. I admit it was one of those ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ posts where I took a deep breath before hitting the publish button.

      So glad you enjoyed it 😉

  • Justin says:

    Thank you for this.

  • Sherri Spelic says:

    Yay!! I feel like I went/ am still moving through a similar process. Who we are is the container for all the other pieces: purpose, thinking, actions. In giving yourself permission to ‘do you’, you grant everyone you encounter the same space and opportunity. That is a true gift to any community.

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