That headline is the result of my recent attempt to distill who I am into a series of well-paired fonts and visually pleasing graphics. Personal branding--it's not exactly easy for an early twenty-something. Putting yourself out into the world is terrifying enough. Trying to put together a packaged version of yourself when you're still trying to figure out who you are is even harder.
How can I answer the question of who I am as a leader? I can barely decided on what to make for dinner.
Brands express value--and you are valuable.
When applying for jobs the question of "what makes me special?" is bound to make an appearance. Which, for me, spirals into, "am I even special?" Then I start to worry I'll claim a value people don't see in me. And then I shut my laptop.
Sometimes it's hard to see what sets you apart when you're drowning in a sea of internship applications (or, gasp, real-life job applications). Figure out what you bring to the table; I guarantee that you bring something. Ask the people you work with. Is there a common compliment you receive? The characteristics you might not find impressive in yourself may very well be the ones that land you a job. You spend every day with yourself--sometimes you can forget how impressive you actually are. Personal brands are aspirational; they're a combination of who you are and who you want to be.
Fear of judgment isn't a bad thing, but don't let it stunt your growth.
As a writer of very personal, sometimes controversial topics, I always fear that I'll regret my openness post-publication. At the end of the day, if I can stand against my self-judgment, the potential judgment of those around me, and the inevitable trolls in the comments section then what I am saying is worth the risk. Let yourself be controversial, not for controversies sake, but because what you say is important to you. Not everyone will agree and, guess what? That's okay. In my experience, the people that you would enjoy working with will appreciate your bravery.
Here's the thing: brands evolve. And so do you.
Who you are isn't static, and neither is your brand. I wear any number of hats on a given day. I contain multitudes. I can't stuff all of that into a perfectly put together, well-branded package. And that's okay. I'm a twenty-something. I'm not supposed to have myself figured out. Who I am right now may not be who I always will be--and that is the beauty of re-branding.
You can be passionate about more than one thing.
It's hard to package yourself simply if you are involved in more than one industry. If new passions and ideas clash with your current personal brand, so what? Let yourself do whatever gets your blood pumping. And if you haven't found that yet, I say again, so what? You have time. You can be a driven person without the exact direction you are driving in.
Don't pressure yourself to put all of your time into one specific career path if your mind is constantly wandering off the side of the road. As one of my professors told me, "You can't connect the dots ahead of you, only behind you." So if a project doesn't fit the rest of the bullets on your resume, but you're drawn to it, do it anyways.
All of your passions inform each other positively.
You are not a product--you are a person.