welcome-matToday is the day: I’m ready to show you the new home of my editing services!

I’ve already told you the story of why I decided to split Remade By Hand into two separate sites: one for my personal journey and the other for my professional services. So all that’s left now is to unveil the site!

A virtual drumroll, please…

Presenting…the new online home of Erin Kurup, editor and idea architect…erinkurup.com!

I hope you’ll come on over and poke around a bit. Your input would mean the world to me. (Really.)

Would you like a guided tour?

Here are some highlights, if you’d like a starting place:

  • Start Here will — surprise! — give you a quick overview of the new site.
  • Is This You? will give you a portrait of the person I serve best (and help you decide whether you’re one of those people).
  • Services will tell you all about how we can work together to bring your next writing project, be it ebook or info product or web page or blog post, to life.
  • The blog is where you’ll find my thoughts on writing and editing as it pertains to us solo and small business owners. There’s already a pair of posts up for your reading pleasure, and the comments section is ready for your thoughts. Take your pick (or read them both!):
  • Notes in the Margins will keep you looped in to the ongoing conversation and comes with my new audio/PDF guide, Out of Your Head and onto the Page: A Guide to Gathering the Pieces of Your First Draft. (Note: If you were a Trail Notes subscriber, you’re now a Notes in the Margins subscriber. Same list, but new focus, new thank-you gift, new design, new name! Check your inbox for the access details I’ve sent you.)

Or, if you know you want to be part of Notes in the Margins already, you can sign up right here and I’ll send you the guide on the double:

What’ll become of Remade By Hand?

It’ll revert back to the personal chronicle it was always meant to be. In fact, the changes are already underway. If you loved the site before, I think you’ll love it still. Stick around?

All that’s left now is for you to explore!

Come on over and explore erinkurup.com, and/or settle back into Remade By Hand as it used to be. Either way, I hope I’ll see lots of you!

Thanks to Dru Bloomfield for the CC-licensed photo.

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Why I'm Rebranding (Again) and What I Learned (erinkurup.com, photo by THOR via Flickr)

Adapted from THOR’s CC-licensed photo.

As solo and small business owners, one of the biggest challenges we face may well be branding.

We want our brands to feel authentic, spot-on, like extensions of ourselves, even as we also hope they’ll speak to our rightest of people.

But a human being is far too complex and multifaceted to be reduced to a handful of colors and webpages — no matter how carefully they’re crafted or how many experts weigh in.

I learned this lesson the hard way.

At the end of 2012, I signed up for my very first branding course. It was wonderful and inspiring, absolutely perfect for where I was in my journey, and I’m grateful for all the insights it helped me gain. It launched a several-month period during which I painstakingly gave visual and verbal life to my fledgling brand. The result was Remade By Hand, the website you’re looking at right now.

Remade By Hand is me to a tee. The images, colors, and language all scream “Erin.” I feel deeply at home here.

My business, however — the editor in me — does not. In fact, the two settled into a state of such constant tension in their shared space that I stopped blogging altogether.

This disconnect confused and frustrated me for months. How could something I loved to do not be at home in a space that felt so much like me? Why was I attracting amazing clients who sounded nothing like the people I was talking to in my web copy? And why was I reluctant to blog about the more personal themes that matter to me alongside my service offerings?

Discouraged, I decided to throw in the towel. I planned to move my services to their own site and let Remade By Hand revert to its personal journey roots.

It was through contemplating how this shift might work that I hit on the problem.

Remade By Hand is me, absolutely. But it’s only one side of me. It’s the introspective, questioning, quest-for-betterment side of me. The one willing to delve into sticky personal topics to unearth what’s true for me and change what doesn’t serve me. The people in the Remade By Hand community value the honesty, safe space, and deep exploration I offer here. They are people on similar paths looking for fellow pioneers. They’re exactly the people I want to share my own journey with.

But that side of me has very little to do with the me who comes out when I work with clients.

two-trunks

Adapted from Rusty Clark’s CC-licensed photo.

With the people I serve as an editor, I’m upbeat. Encouraging. Proactive. Even a little silly sometimes. The purpose and energy shift — and with them, the audience. My clients are entrepreneurs who care deeply about the work they’re doing in the world. They’d rather feel challenged and supported than accompany me on a personal deep-dive. They don’t need the push to overcome obstacles or the connection with kindred spirits as much as the confidence to put their creations out there. And they’re exactly the people I want to be working with.

Suddenly, what had felt like settling, like giving in or giving up, made so much sense. These two sides of me are branches of the same tree. And I knew my decision was the right one.

I am, indeed, giving my business its very own site.

Later in August, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be unveiling the new home of my editing services. I’m thrilled to my toes with how it’s turning out, and I know the editor and idea architect in me will be a thousand times happier there than she is here. If you’re here for the editing and communication side of what I do, I hope you’ll join me over there when it’s ready!

And Remade By Hand? It will go back to being the site it started out as: a place to fully engage with life and take conscious steps toward living more fully and authentically. In fact, I’ll be starting to tweak it any day now. Its new tagline will be “Crafting a magnificent life,” which I’ll unpack after the switch. (Comments are back now, too. For the time being, at least!)

I’ll announce the change here on Remade By Hand when it happens.

It tickles me that these two very different sites both feel like me. It’s delightful to have drawn out this pair of facets and created an online presence to suit each. Call me easily amused, but it’s true! Depending on which path you get to know me through, you see a different side of me. Now my online presence will reflect that. It feels so, so right.

Do I regret how long it took me to figure things out?

Nope.

I don’t believe this kind of knowledge is something that you can nail from the get-go. It’s not the sort of thing you can muscle out of your brain before you start. It takes time, best guesses, the willingness to experiment, and a whole heck of a lot of tweaking.

crumpled-paper

Adapted from photosteve101′s CC-licensed photo.

I love hearing entrepreneurs talk about all the things they tried that didn’t work. It could be offerings, websites, specific tactics, or even entire businesses. It means it’s ok to “fail.” It’s ok to do something in a way that doesn’t work. If you pick yourself up, learn a lesson or two, and try something new (and hopefully better), then it’s not really a failure at all.

That’s why we iterate, why we have to be ok with change. If something isn’t working, we have to ask why. If we don’t, we can’t fix the problem. All we can do is flail, taking stabs in the dark, hoping against hope we’ll hit on the solution at random.

But with intention, with our eyes open, with a curiosity to untangle the knotty parts and find a better way? That’s where the real power lies.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

When has iteration proved fruitful for you? What did you learn or change as a result of the experience?

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wrong_wayI have always had a problem with The Rules.

Not in the way you might think. No rule-breaking, detention-earning, screw-you-I-don’t-care-ing for me. Actually, I’m pretty much the opposite of your stereotypical rebel.

I adhere to The Rules with far more care than is good for me.

That might sound silly. I mean, who ever ran into trouble because she did what she was supposed to do?

But what you might not realize is that unquestioning over-adherence to The Rules can be just as problematic as devil-may-care flaunting of them. You lose all sense of what you want. You can’t hear your intuition any more. You try to stuff yourself into the shape you think you’re supposed to be in, even if it makes you feel contorted beyond recognition (even to yourself).

I’m getting better. And I have my friend Shanna to thank. A couple of years ago, she said something crucial to me:

“Rules are more like best practices.”

As in, you’re not required to follow them.

As in, they’re not The Only Way, end of story, case closed forever and ever.

As in, they’re just a collection of guidelines that work for lots of people, in case you want to take a shortcut instead of figuring things out for yourself. If not, no biggie. Whatevs.

My fifth-grade teacher used to say, “The only things you have to do are die and pay taxes.” Finally, two decades later, I am starting to see what he meant.

I’ve written about this insight before, so I won’t belabor the point.

The part I think bears repeating is this:

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. But you can if you want to.

We tend to get caught up in the advice of “experts.” We take the suggestions they make and transform them into hard-and-fast Rules.

confusing-signFor instance:

We see a big business employing a particular marketing technique and getting amazing results, and we try to adopt it in our own teeny, not-even-remotely-similar business without stopping to think about whether it fits in with what we’re building.

We hear about an investing method that’s made its proponent a zillion and a half dollars, and we attempt to do the same thing without considering our personal preferences, resources, or goals.

We learn about a Twitter strategy that is guaranteed to get us 500 followers a day, and we’re halfway to implementing it before we think about what kind of followers those might be, much less whether we actually want to be gaining followers at such an absurd (for us) rate.

We read about a new diet or workout plan that seems to work for everybody, and we run out and buy all the supplies before we’ve looked at what it entails and whether that will fit with our lifestyles and our likes.

You get the picture.

An approach may be perfect for you. Or it may be the worst thing you could do. It could be somewhere in between. Or maybe it’s close, but it needs a few tweaks. There’s only one person who can make that call for you. (Hint: It isn’t me, and it isn’t the latest expert.)

In the end, it’s up to you to figure it out.

hands-on-mapThat face in the mirror? That’s who’s in charge.

Where are you trying to go? What are you trying to build? How are you trying to live? What kind of person are you hoping to be?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions (or your own version of them), how can you expect to get there?

Some of The Rules (*ahem* best practices) out there will get you closer to your goal. Some of them will not. And some of them will take you so far away from it that you no longer know where you are or how to get home again.

I don’t care how successful an expert’s ebook or webinar series or coaching program is or how many other people got amazing results from such-and-such technique. Sure, maybe those things can help you. But ultimately, no one can tell you which will take you in the direction you want to go and which will hijack you into oblivion. You have to figure it out for yourself. You have to work out where you want to go, let go of the rest, and then iterate until you get there.

This is something I’ve been learning the hard way.

I am forever getting tangled up in things I never meant to touch, wandering down one path only to backtrack, planning out visions that were never mine to begin with. I let “shoulds” lead me astray. I say yes to plums without thinking. I struggle constantly to subdue my knee-jerk reactions, to inject enough mindfulness into my days to take the wheel of my own life, to stop long enough to remember to take up space.

How do I know I’ve gotten off track?

My “uh-oh” trigger is that something feels wrong. I’m not happy, or my business isn’t going the way I want it to, or I’m burned out and exhausted. The inspiration dries up; I retreat. When these things happen, at least nine times out of ten it’s a sign that I’ve strayed from the course I’ve charted.

Where am I trying to go? What am I trying to build? How am I trying to live? What kind of person am I hoping to be?

These questions are touchstones. They bring me back to my center. They point the way home when I’m wandering in the jungle.

They can do the same for you, with a little practice and determination.

birdcageDo you want permission to go your own way? Consider it granted.

Goodness knows I needed someone to tell me it was ok to find my own path. I’m happy to pass the favor along. Whatever gets you one step closer to living on purpose instead of blindly following the herd.

I’m not saying your way will work. I’m also not saying it won’t.

You can’t know unless you try. I mean, it’s way better than sitting on your butt watching life drift by or coasting along on whatever current comes your way, right?

And if it does work, what will that mean for you?


The Bravery Blogging Project: Post fiercely.This post is part of the Bravery Blogging Project organized by Illana Burk of Makeness Media. The goal is to write “real, original, difficult content.” Last week’s contribution on Remade By Hand was: “On FOMO, Purpose, and Living with No Regrets.

Read other participants’ posts or learn how to join the project here. You can also follow and use the hashtag #braveblogging.

Thanks to flattop341, Kitty Terwolbeck, ajari, and Hitchster for their CC-licensed photos.

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You know how sometimes, something that was not at all clear to you suddenly makes sense, and you wonder how in the world you missed it for so long?

That just happened. And I think I’ve figured something out.

But I have to start by telling you about purpose.

Have you ever thought about your ultimate purpose, the reason you do everything you do?

On FOMO, Purpose, and Living with No Regrets (remadebyhand.com, photo by Asaf antman via Flickr)

Adapted from Asaf antman’s CC-licensed photo.

If you’ve encountered a system like David Allen’s Getting Things Done or the work of Stephen Covey, chances are you have.

Do you answer the “What’s your ultimate purpose?” question when you come to it?

I don’t. I skip it. Geez, what a hard thing to figure out, much less put into words. There are more pressing things to think about. Besides, I have a vague sense that something or other does, in fact, keep me going. Isn’t that enough?

In the not-so-distant past, though, I was listening to The Power of Story by Jim Loehr. It’s geared toward corporate executives, so parts of it were more miss than hit. But Loehr is extremely persistent about the ultimate purpose thing. He brings it up incessantly, reiterating over and over that it is the key to the puzzle. He gives examples. He urges you to figure out your own. He warns that people rarely get it right on the first try and insists that you keep digging.

I did my usual eye-rolling and half tuned him out. And then I got curious. Ok, really, what could be driving me to make all the decisions I make, to act the way I act, to make the choices I do? Could I really have a clear force running in the background, pushing me forward — one I could actually name?

I flipped through a few generic options in my head, trying each one on for size. Be the best person I can be? No. Uplift others? Sounds noble, but also no. Realize my full potential? Meh.

And THEN.

It came to me, with a jolt of startled recognition I couldn’t deny:

The thing I want most is to have no regrets.

I never want to look back at my life and wish I’d done something I hadn’t. I never want to realize after the fact that I’ve missed a precious moment or chosen the easy way out because of fear. It might be a cliché. It might be ultimately unattainable. But it’s also my truth.

I stood there stunned for a moment. There was a pang of guilty disappointment that my inner driving force wasn’t something loftier, more beneficent, less self-centered, more original. Then the maniacal internal laughter erupted. Full-out gales of cackling, ironic hilarity.

Why?

The way I’ve been living and acting and deciding run one hundred percent counter to this driving purpose.

I base my choices on what’s easy most of the time. I let myself off the hook. I pretend I don’t really want the things I do if I think I might not be able to get them. I procrastinate. I drag my feet. I hide. I apologize for who I am and what I want.

I am a walking ball of potential regrets.

Now, having no regrets may not be your driving purpose. (Heck, maybe it isn’t even mine. I’m not sure we can ever know for sure. We just have to go with what motivates us at the time.) But I’ll bet you, too, would rather avoid amassing a giant pile of regrets.

This is where FOMO comes in.

When people talk about FOMO, it’s often in the context of social media and comparison.

We’re always on our phones because we might be missing something cooler than what we’re doing in real life. We look at all the perfect photos on Instagram, all the gleeful status updates on Facebook, and we feel like what we have doesn’t measure up. We worry that someone, somewhere, is having more fun or success or happiness than we are. And I think part of us starts to believe that if only we could have what they’re having, we’d be similarly improved.

I’ve been living with a deeper kind of FOMO. Maybe you have, too.

On FOMO, Purpose, and Living with No Regrets (remadebyhand.com, photo by Gabriel Rojas Hruska via Flickr)

Adapted from Gabriel Rojas Hruska’s CC-licensed photo.

I don’t want to miss out. I live in fear that choosing, committing, will slam every other door in my face.

I don’t like to burn bridges. I don’t like to say no. I don’t like to pass when an opportunity comes along. I keep lists all over the place of things I might like to do someday and articles I intend to read eventually and all kinds of other stuff. I like to keep as many plates spinning and balls in the air and doors open as I possibly can because that way I have all the options available to me, always. I never have to worry that I’ve missed out on what I really want because I said no, turned down an opportunity, didn’t attend an event.

The problem is, it’s really hard to keep so many options open. Boundaries can’t survive in the face of such a ceaseless onslaught. I’m constantly holding myself at the ready, spread too thin, living in a state of eternal overcommitment. Something I’ve never even been interested in comes along and I say, “Sure! I’m in!” Because what if that turns out to be the thing I’m going to end up loving more than all the other things? What if there’s something amazing out there that I just haven’t found yet, something even better than what I’m doing now?

It’s also hard to make progress on any one thing when you have twenty other things in the works. Procrastination manifests as excessive busyness that’s forever getting in the way.

And then there’s this element of paralysis, of not being able to make a choice for fear of closing a door, of dragging my feet because to choose is to turn away from at least one other option.

Does your head hurt yet? Because mine is starting to.

That is how I’ve been subconsciously attempting to achieve a regret-free existence. If as many options as possible are wide open, then I can’t miss out on something I’ll later come to regret.

Thanks, FOMO.

Clearly, I am going about this no-regrets thing bass-ackwards.

Do you see how silly this approach is? It took me a minute, but now I get it. It’s backwards. It stems from a lack of two vital components: trust and clarity.

I’ve been pursuing my regret-free end by keeping every door open so I don’t miss out. A more effective approach would be to figure out what I really want and trust myself to make decisions based on that so that my life takes the path I truly want it to take.

The real way to avoid regrets is to know what you want, trust yourself, and then act on that.

On FOMO, Purpose, and Living with No Regrets (remadebyhand.com, photo by calsidyrose via Flickr)

Adapted from calsidyrose’s CC-licensed photo.

To live with no regrets, the first thing you have to do is figure out what you want. Or if you can’t know one hundred percent, then at least have a fairly good sense of where you want to go, at least for the time being. Then, once you think you know, you have to trust yourself. You have to give yourself the benefit of the doubt and go with what you’re feeling.

No dithering around trying to keep every single option open. No fearing what you’ve chosen isn’t the best. No wondering if The Thing You’re Meant to Do is out there somewhere, waiting for you to find it.

The truth is that none of that stuff matters if you’re on the path you want to be on. Why would you regret missing out on something you didn’t really care about in the first place? You may experience a pang of FOMO in the moment, but when you look back on your life, I really doubt that momentary twinge will even register. The highlights reel will be too full of all the things you truly wanted to do — and did.

(I say all that as though it’s second nature to me. It’s not. But I suspect it to be true, and I intend to prove it so, long and hard though the journey to do so may be.)

Consider your options. Make the best choice you can. And then stand behind it. Guard it. Trust it.

If you’re out to dinner with your significant other or your best friend, put your phone away and let yourself stop freaking out about the networking event you’re missing and live the moment in front of you.

If you’ve set aside a few months to write a book, it should be easy to turn down the speaking engagement or conference that comes up and enjoy your writing time.

If you’ve promised yourself a month of German practice in your after-work free time to prepare for an upcoming trip, set the other interesting topics that come your way aside for the time being and give German your all.

Choose what’s best for you, what you feel drawn to do, what you truly want. Accept that. Trust it. There will, in the vast majority of cases, be other such opportunities when the timing is better. The things you were meant to do will come back around when you’re ready. And when they do, maybe then you’ll be ready to give them the full attention and energy and commitment they’ll deserve.

Another true cliché: The minutes slipping by are all we get.

This life you’re living is yours. Concentrate your focus, distill your desire, ferret out the path that feels true to you. Stand firm in the belief that you know what’s best for you. Then bring those precious resources to bear in service of building your magnificent life.

That’s how you live with no regrets.


Braveblogging31This post is part of the Bravery Blogging Project organized by Illana Burk of Makeness Media. The goal is to write “real, original, difficult content” every week for six weeks. Last week’s contribution on Remade By Hand was: “How to Use (and Abuse) Labels.

Read other participants’ posts or learn how to join the project here. You can also follow and use the hashtag #braveblogging.

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How to Use (and Abuse) Labels (remadebyhand.com, photo by Mark Strozier via Flickr)

Adapted from Mark Strozier’s CC-licensed photo.

Today I would like to call bullshit on something I myself have become quite adept at employing: the use of trait-focused labels as get-out-of-jail-free cards.

What favorite personality-based label describes you to a tee? Procrastinator? Perfectionist? Introvert/extrovert? Optimist/pessimist? Right-brained/left-brained? Your astrological sign? Your personality type?

Then fill in the blanks and try these on for size:

“Oh, I can’t possibly do [thing you're scared to try], I’m too much of a [label].”

Or: “[Thing you're scared to try] would never work for me. It goes against my [label] nature.”

Or how about: “Of course I [thing you're justifying]. I’m a [label]. What did you expect?”

Sound familiar?

Maybe you say them to yourself. Maybe you say them to other people. Maybe your versions are a little different from mine. But I’ll bet you say them.

Used skillfully, labels can justify just about any action, opinion, or decision — or the lack thereof.

They’re tricksy like that.

To see how, let’s look at three examples from my own deck of labels. These are my go-tos, well worn and comfy as a favorite sweater. With all three in my arsenal, I have a convenient excuse with which to get out of almost anything I don’t want to do instead of figuring out how to move forward.

“I’m a multipotentialite.”

I am. I have multiple interests and truly believe there is no One Calling out there that I am meant to pursue. I get really into a topic or skill for a while, then my attention shifts and I’m on to the next thing. Sometimes I come back around to a topic. Sometimes I don’t.

It’s mostly fun being a multipotentialite, but there are also problems that come up. For one, it’s hard to make progress on long-term projects because I often lose interest in the middle. Big-picture goal setting is also tough, for much the same reason. And I sometimes get bored more quickly than I’d like.

It’s so easy to blame the multipotentialite in me every time I hit a rough patch and want to switch projects without ever peeking under the hood to see what’s really going on. It’s so easy to never really try because I assume I’ll just get bored with the shiny new thing and drop it in a few months anyway. It’s so easy to let myself off the hook because “that’s just the way I am.”

How to Use (and Abuse) Labels (remadebyhand.com, photo by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr)

Adapted from Pink Sherbet Photography’s CC-licensed photo.

“I’m an introvert.”

Again, it’s true. On tests of introversion versus extroversion, I come up as 100 percent introverted. That mostly means I recharge alone instead of with others and that functioning in large groups wears me out. And I’m good with that.

But the term “introvert” is often applied to more than it actually means. We as a culture tend to assume introverts are antisocial, shy, and don’t enjoy being around other people. I assume that too, even though I know better. What a convenient excuse! If I don’t feel like going to a party, I can blame my inner introvert. If I don’t want to push myself to set up a Skype call with an interesting new acquaintance, I can play the introvert card. I have a convenient and socially sanctioned excuse, even if what’s really stopping me is something else entirely. Whew.

“I’m an INFJ.”

This newest label in my arsenal refers to my Myers-Briggs type: Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging. I was never big on personality tests — until I took this one. The first description I read of the INFJ type was so accurate I was utterly intrigued. I’m still learning all the ways my INFJ-ness shows up in my life.

There are so many potential excuses buried in this complex new label for me to explore. One, for instance, is that INFJs are constantly redefining priorities and tinkering with how they do things to figure out the best way. That explains why I’m forever tearing down my productivity system and long-term goals in order to rebuild them in a way that works “better.” It’s so tempting to blame my INFJ-ness when messing with my system is more appealing than figuring out what the real problem is.

Or there’s the fact that INFJs tend to have strong and accurate intuitions. As I learn to hear and trust mine more, it’s easy to write off a snap decision or a sudden change of plans as the work of intuition when maybe it was actually just that I wanted to avoid doing a particular thing.

And the more I learn about how INFJs function, the more excuses I collect.

Is every label just a crutch, a pass, an excuse to hide behind, then?

They can certainly become those things. But I don’t believe they’re all bad. It’s all in how we use them. Here are three ways in which labels can actually be useful.

First, naming things makes them real.

There’s something about naming something that makes it seem more real. Start calling yourself a writer, for instance, and it can shape how you see yourself, how you talk about yourself to others, and even how you act. Flip your usual “pessimist” label to “optimist” and see how the shift affects you. Language is incredibly powerful, and labels — owned fully, used wisely, and followed up with appropriate action — give us a way to harness that power.

A label doesn’t have to have a positive or negative charge to be useful. The key is in how you frame things for yourself. For instance, I’m an INFJ. My type isn’t better or worse than the other fifteen. And like all the personality types, mine has its weaknesses. But it’s my choice to focus on the unique strengths that come with the label. It’s my choice to learn how to use them. It’s my choice to turn the label into a thing of power instead of a hindrance or hiding place.

Second, self-knowledge is invaluable.

How to Use (and Abuse) Labels (remadebyhand.com, photo by Markus Grossalber via Flickr)

Adapted from Markus Grossalber’s CC-licensed photo.

The more you know about yourself, the better you’re equipped to support yourself in all aspects of your life. When a particular label fits you like a glove, you’ve just found an opportunity to learn more about what makes you tick and how you can fine-tune the mechanisms.

I’m a multipotentialite, but I don’t have to use that label to let myself off the hook. Instead, I can begin to understand why I drop things the way I do. I can figure out ways to support myself and experiment with strategies to get myself through the hard parts of a project. I can be watchful when I start to feel resistance and make sure it’s really a loss of interest that’s dragging me down and not just that things are getting hard. If I know what to look for, I can figure out how to compensate.

I’m also an introvert, but I don’t have to let that excuse me from ever making social contact. I can learn from the research how to engage in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling so drained. And when I find myself dreading an impending interaction, I can check in with myself to see what else might be stirring up those feelings.

Third, identifying with others fosters connection and learning.

We humans love to use similarities to band together. Labels can help us find one another. We can build communities, mentor one another, collaborate. We can use our shared experiences and knowledge to help one another better understand how we work. As long as we steer clear of the not-so-goods like judgment and us-versus-them thinking, identifying with some aspect of each other can create a powerful and rewarding bond.

I’ve participated in online communities aimed at all three of my favorite labels. The immediate feeling of sharing common ground that comes from being among people who share some aspect of your psychological makeup is pretty amazing. I’ve learned so much from the people in these groups that would’ve taken me years to figure out on my own. I also feel understood in a deep and satisfying way.

Labels are tools, not crutches or justifications or inevitabilities.

Labels are not inherently bad. They have the potential to be dangerous, for sure. But they can also be powerful and illuminating. They can be tools for growth and springpads for action.

Labels teach you about yourself. They give you clues about which traps to watch out for and how to set yourself up for success. They help you forge connections with others. It’s only when we identify too closely with them, when we start to define ourselves by the labels we wear, that they turn into snares.

Labels give you the choice between trapping yourself in a cage and working toward personal growth. It’s up to you which you choose.


Braveblogging31This post is part of the Bravery Blogging Project organized by Illana Burk of Makeness Media. The goal is to write “real, original, difficult content” every week for six weeks. Last week’s contribution on Remade By Hand was: “On Connection, Approval, and Why I’m Turning Off Comments

Read other participants’ posts or learn how to join the project here. You can also follow and use the hashtag #braveblogging.

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