To Be Professional, or Authentic?

So, you may have noticed that I haven’t written very much recently.

Since I started my blog, my policy was generally only to write if things were going well– or at least, to only highlight the positive.

The Internet is tricky. We’re all still figuring out– and as we figure it out, it’s constantly changing.

I’m honestly torn about what exactly I want this blog to be. Do I want it to be professional– kind of like my calling card, to start building connections in the field I hope to go into?

Or do I simply want to be what I’ve always “wanted to be” ever since I read the Little House on the Prairie series as a child– a writer?

I’m torn.

Do I want to create a “reputation” as someone knowledgeable about the body– a future healthcare professional? Or do I want to tell my story, in the hopes it will help someone else out there know she isn’t alone?

It’s awkward. Actually, it’s beyond awkward.

I’ve worked in the helping professions– mental health, specifically. And there, rule #1 is never to talk about yourself– at least, never to offer up anything you wouldn’t mind having attacked later on.

And I’ve seen it– how a person can turn on you, take something you only said in an attempt to be helpful, and try to turn it into something else, twisting your words into something ugly and unrecognizable. Even sinister.

Working in mental health changed me, that’s for sure.

But even without that experience, I think we are all coming to the realization that the Internet is a place that never forgets, where mistakes are never forgiven. In this day and age of screen-shots and screen-caps and whatever else, saying something on the Internet basically means you are saying it forever.

I mean, really. Can I pour my heart out here, admitting my mistakes and defeats… and also expect people to take me seriously as their physical therapist someday?

Honestly, I don’t know.

But I have always wanted to be a writer. To put my stories into the perfect words, to hold them up to the light and examine them, to extract all the meaning from them that I can, and then to share them– that’s always been something I’ve longed to do.

So I guess I’m going to keep trying. To step out on a limb, a little bit. To test the waters.

To see what will happen if I worry less about being “professional” on here (which, frankly, has resulted in me not writing very much at all) and see what happens if I instead focus on being authentic.

Wish me luck!


6 thoughts on “To Be Professional, or Authentic?

  1. I don’t know if/how your thinking has evolved around these questions since you originally posted, but I think it’s an important question. I struggle with it, too, both in my blog and in my practice as a psychologist. I try to strike a balance, where the ways that I’m authentic (self-disclosing) are in keeping with what’s best for the professional relationship….but I know I miss the mark sometimes. A thick skin helps, as does realizing the truth in the idea that you can’t please all of the people all the time. Personally I think your patients will be lucky that you give this issue thought, instead of reflexively doing one or the other. Good luck to you and keep us updated!

    1. Hi wordsforwaves– thank you so much for your comment (and sorry for the delayed response!). You’re right– balance is key, and so is keeping in mind what’s best for the professional relationship. Obviously it’s a little bit different for me right now in a blogging/creative writing form, but I am reminding myself that that relationship is still there, in a way. After all, the purpose of my writing is to help people. If I ever come to regret putting anything out there, I’ll just have to remember that my intentions were only the best.

      I’ve also had a recent experience with a mentally-unstable friend having a psychotic episode and spilling my personal secrets to the entire world, so I guess I’m starting to realize that if something like that is going to happen, it’s going to happen, whether I put something online or not.

  2. Definitely authentic. “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. We all have struggles so in my opinion being authentic is one way of reaching out to others with hope and respect. We learn from each other rather than looking to the “professionals”. Personally I think being authentic now will make you a better professional later. But will you need thick skin? Probably – there are a lot of arm chair critics out there! All the best to you as you find your way!

  3. Well good luck. I think it can be hard to know in advance how any individual might respond to authenticity vs professional demeanor.My experience has been people prefer genuineness,in general. Some individuals like the professional demeanor.

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