We all have some sort of idea of who we’d like to be. Careers are usually central to these concepts. Then there’s the more basic personality level: Are you nice, shy, condescending or cutthroat? It all boils down to how you want people to perceive you; how do you want your peers to recreate you in their eyes?
Today self-branding is key. Lady Gaga is a brand. Snooki, for god’s sake, is a brand. In nearly every class I’ve taken in college, my professors have urged the class to develop a public brand. And it all seems to start with an online presence. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. are typically the identity-constructing vehicles of choice.
Creating a “brand” is an exciting and terrifying thing. By creating yourself online, you are increasing the chances that people will know you exist. Which, I am told, is generally a positive thing. However, by setting out to portray your identity to reflect a certain brand, you have to filter yourself. In some ways this is good. For example, you might preemptively ask yourself, “Will posting pictures of myself taunting the neighbor’s cat promote or hinder my brand?” From there, you can make the right or wrong decision. Then again, you might exclude elements of your personality (those that won’t get you in trouble with ASPCA) because they do not coincide with your public persona.
I think, for everyone, there’s some degree of disparity between the imagined and actual self. For example, I would love to be in an all ladies punk band. For so many reasons, I do not belong in this kind of band. I don’t play an instrument. I’m not really into punk music. But, for whatever reason, in some sort of alternative universe, I can see myself as this person. And I think some fibers of my personality reflect a teensy bit of this punk spirit (whatever that is), though I couldn’t tell you what fibers.
So what’s stopping me from reinventing myself? The obvious answer is: So so so so many things. The not-so-obvious answer is: My brand does not have any room for green hair. In a lot of ways I am not an authority-defying, destructive, pierced, angry, punk broad. But in a lot of ways (not literally, metaphorically, maybe) I am.
I think this angsty-hyperfeminist side tends to find a home in my poetry. Lately, I’ve been trying to reign in the angst a bit. Passive aggressive sarcasm is more my pace, I think.
I’m still trying to figure out this branding thing. What is too honest? How do you market yourself in an appealing way, without entirely cutting off the crusts of your personality?