A sex ed blog with more
On Saturday, I attended a conference in Toronto entitled “Discover Your Personal Brand”. My friend, Bobby Umar, is one of the creators of this wonderful day centred on Personal Branding, and asked me to moderate a panel on love and dating. Naturally, I jumped at the chance – my first panel, and I get to moderate? You betcha! Talk about teachable moments. Before I get any further, I need to thank the other wonderful panelists who were up there with me:
Christine Hart: a wonderfully warm and caring relationship coach at http://www.livingandlovingauthentically.com/
Colleen Elliott:a vibrant and engaging life coach at Coaching By Colleen
Kaitlin Monkman: a wonderfully intelligent and sarcastic ‘First Date Expert’ who can be found on Twitter @kaitmonkman.
I was only able to be at the conference for the afternoon since I spent the morning in the ER. I somehow managed to injure my wrist without actually having hurt myself. Winner. Then, when I didn’t find the splint exciting enough, I turned it into a ghost or a sock monkey or a pug; take your pick.
So what is personal branding? Here are some key things I took from the conference:
How does this relate to love, sex, and dating?
Knowing yourself makes a huge difference when trying to find a partner who is a good match. If you know what to share, how much to share, what you want, and what your values are, you’ll be able to suss out who works in your life and who doesn’t. I think it’s very difficult to let others know what you want if you’re unsure yourself. That being said, sometimes we don’t know what we want until we have it or don’t have it.
There is a big difference between trying to impress and creating a great impression. Personally, I have to continually tell myself that I am an impressive person and that exaggerating my stories aka lying is not a good way to establish a real connection. For example, I recall being on a second date in which I flat out told a story that did not happen. This was in hopes of having my date think certain things about me based on the stories he was telling me. I felt so icky afterwards because I knew that I would not be able to keep up this fake persona I had created: it’s just too exhausting. This was a hugely important learning moment for me: I don’t need to try to make my awesome stories sound any better because they (and I) am already awesome.
On the panel, we discussed that a great way to meet people is by doing activities with others that you love. So many of us get stuck in a routine of going to work and coming home, without taking the time to do things we enjoy and interact with non-coworkers. Work can often be very draining, which can lead to not wanting to get out there on weekdays. Kaitlin came to the realization that if she was only going out to do fun things on Friday and Saturday, she was missing out on the opportunity for new interactions 5 days a week, or 20 days a month. In other words, she was only taking advantage of 125 out of 365 days to meet people. That’s a lot of time to not be doing things we love to do. One cool thing about the internet is that we can easily seek out communities of people who are interested in similar things. If you really like knitting or Star Wars or playing board games or reading, you can manage to find groups of people who want to hang out and do those things with you.
Once you’re in a relationship, personal branding as a couple is key: how you communicate, what your vision is, what your goals are, and how you talk about your relationship with others. We can and should definitely still be working on self development and our own vision, but also a vision with others. Just as companies have a 5-year strategic plan, so can relationships. I’ve recently read that another strategy when a relationship isn’t doing well is to say something along the lines of, “I’m really scared to talk about x” because it creates vulnerability and openness.
Being grateful, and sharing that gratitude, is an excellent way to deepen a connection while focusing on the positives. For those of us who struggle with anxiety, depression, low self-worth and/or low self-confidence, I think this is especially important.
There are lots of things about myself that I am working on, and honestly, I think we should all be seeking constant self-growth and improvement. I often wonder if I should get my shit together first and then be in a relationship. But then I realize that there will always be shit. Life happens, and it’s messy. When dating, when in a relationship, it’s okay to say things like, “Here’s some shit that I’m dealing with and this is what I’m currently doing to cope. I could use support in this way.” And I think shying away from this growth and self-awareness is a mistake.
I like the idea of personal branding because really, personal branding is storytelling and I LOVE to tell stories. The trick is to figure out when I’ve said enough; like most Expressives, I tend to ramble … especially when I’m excited. Personal branding is letting the world know who you are and what you’re about. So get out there, share the weird stuff, and be true to you!