Art & Craft, Creative Writing

Merging identities: Why I’m posting non-work stuff here now

TL;DR Previously on this blog I posted only writing relating to what I do for work – learning & development, technology, management, and customer experience related blogs and the like. I’m now going to post all of my writing – poetry, movie reviews, random thoughts, whatever.

Why did I start exclusively work-related blogging in the first place?

Back in 2012, when I fell into my first management role, the world of work was very different. Paper files and microfiche were king, your office might have still had a fax machine (mine did), and working from home was an impossible concept for many.

Management was a different beast back then too. I was a total fish out of water when I got my first promotion. I had no idea how to handle the responsibility of getting the most out of people, and sought advice from other managers. At the heart of it, a lot of what I learned was that I needed to compartmentalize my work and personal selves. Suddenly I had to develop a new management persona that set the right standards and role-modeled the “right” behavior – to be authoritative, hardworking, detached, responsible, knowledgeable.

This seemed like a great idea at the time. I’d had what felt like some difficult teenage years, and I wanted to get away from those old bits of my personality that didn’t jive with where I saw myself going. In practice, though, I did horribly, at least to start. I alienated colleagues who were previously my friends. I pushed down those parts of me that were human, and rough around the edges, or relaxed and fun, and I focused hard on becoming Manager Kaye.

Over time I figured out a way of managing that was more empathetic – thank you, coaching courses. But I still struggled to reconcile my work and personal selves.

When I started working in Canada, the company I was with at the time expressed a desire for me to try and become an influencer of sorts in the customer experience realm. So I went with it. I had a lot of experience in CX, and I was opinionated. I was able to get fired up about it, and I did pretty well to get noticed around the internet for my thoughts on the topic.

But becoming a “thought leader” sucks. You have to hustle, so much, and so publicly. You accept awards given to you by random marketing teams for no other reason than they want traffic to their site off the back of your expertise, and you still accept them and retweet them. You have to interact constantly on Twitter (which is a cesspool, and which I have long since deleted). My work self was stuck in a continuous, long process of beating my own drum and amplifying even the tiniest recognition.

In the meantime, my personal self was exhausted. I withdrew from almost all personal social media because I was struggling to reconcile what I was doing professionally with the feeling that social media, on the whole, is not really a good force in the world. I was also missing my friends back in the UK terribly, and I needed to get some separation from personal social media to keep me from endlessly scrolling their posts, thinking about what I was missing out on.

Historically, I’ve always done a lot of personal writing, which I find really cathartic. I wrote heaps of poetry, songs, blogs. I was one of those kids that had a LiveJournal, and a DeadJournal, and I spent hours putting together posts for those. But over time, the public posting of my personal writing dwindled, and then ground to a halt, as I struggled with feeling like I was already putting too much of myself out into the world in my day job. I still wrote – but for an audience of myself, in the notes app of my phone.

Work-wise, thankfully I’ve got to a place that feels a lot better. I’m working in a role that is nothing whatsoever to do with personal promotion, where success comes from the quality of the work that I do, not how much I shout about it. I’m not having to write endless blogs and whitepapers and tweets that leave me feeling like I don’t have energy for my own writing.

Getting some distance from the pandemic, having the support of the best partner in the world, and making some really good new friends here in Canada has also made me more thoughtful about who I am. My partner and friends have been so amazing in recognizing and encouraging my creativity, and that’s causing me to value that creativity in new ways. I’m deeply thankful that having great people around me is helping me to better appreciate that writing and art are really important to me, and I’m quite good at them too.

I made dis! I would never ever have thought about posting stuff like this on my website before recently.

I’m understanding too that I tend to express myself a lot better in the written word than I do in speech. I’m usually the quieter person in the room and I generally prefer to hear other people’s stories than to tell my own. So I’m feeling now that sharing my writing more often is probably a great way to feel more heard, and offer more opportunities for people to get to know me, if they wish.

So it seemed time that I start using my namesake blog in ways that serve me better. The journey I want to take from here I hope will allow me to develop new synergies across both my personal and work lives, and help me to live more authentically. I want to be able to write about whatever I want in a way that hopefully shows more of who I am. I want to be more true to all the different facets of myself.

I hope that I’m one of many people who are starting to recognize that compartmentalizing our personal and work lives isn’t necessary, or particularly healthy, in the world we live in today. And that there’s no shame in expressing yourself. I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s feeling the same. Thanks for reading.

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