You know the feeling don’t you?
The knot in your gut.
The lump in your throat.
Your heart pounding loudly in your chest and ears.
You slowly inch your hand skyward in an attempt to join the conversation and share your point of view. Your silent, or persistent, words swirling inside your head that you fear may not resonate with others.
And just as the voices of fear inside your head subside enough that your fingertips start to creep past your shoulder and become visible—the facilitator stops calling on raised hands and moves on to the next topic.
You’re flooded with a sense of relief—you dodged that vulnerability bullet one more time—which is rapidly followed by a barrage of negative self-talk and frustration.
- Why am I so afraid to share my point of view?
- Am I really that stupid or clueless that no one will understand my insights?
- This is hopeless—I’ll never amount to anything.
- No one wants to hear what I have to say anyway.
The words in your head might sound like…
Add to that the frustration that you’ve just missed the next point while lost in self-flagellation so have no idea how to rejoin the conversation.
Do your fears keep you from finding and expressing your unique voice?
The above experience is something many of us can relate to, depending on the circumstance. We all want to fit in—to be accepted—and at the same time we also want to be seen. To make a contribution. To add something valuable to the “conversation.”
We often interpret “valuable” as something new. And yet, unless you are a scientist or an inventor, the new is going to be sharing something from your unique perspective.
Unique: Being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
Your viewpoint, expressed in your words, is one of a kind.
Challenges can help you find your ideal tribe
As a kid, I grew up at the edge of an era. A fashion era. The in shoes to wear were no longer saddle shoes. Penny loafers were all the rage. They were suddenly on everyone’s feet, except mine. My mom refused to buy me penny loafers. It wasn’t that she was mean—she was just practical.
I had high arches and weak ankles and needed the extra support of lace-up shoes. Support provided by those no-longer-fashionable, lace-up saddle shoes. Penny loafers were soft, low cut, slip on, and cool. And not supportive—period, end of discussion.
Do you think I cared about the support my ankles needed? Of course not. I wanted to fit in and avoid getting teased by the “cool” kids. At that age—all I wanted was to be accepted by my peers. Yet oddly, as painful as it was, getting teased was often better than being ignored. I might not have fit in with the cool kids, yet because I was unique and visible, I could be a touchstone for others.
Expressing your uniqueness helps you connect
Sometimes we are forced to be unique. Other times we rebel, choosing to be unique.
At times, uniqueness means following the sometimes uncomfortable path of those we serve so we can meet them at their edge.
In Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion (a great read), the author, Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest and outsider in the Los Angeles barrio community that surrounds his parish, finds his unique voice by bringing acceptance to the unacceptable.
He’d been assigned to an area of Los Angeles known for constant and extreme gang rivalry and violence. Despite being an obvious outsider, he learned to connect with and walk as part of the community he was there to serve.
His bridge was compassion and acceptance. He learned to speak in “homeboy” language slowly and patiently as he earned the trust of the local gangs—inch by inch. He walked with compassion—seeing the world through their eyes without judgment. He met them at the edges of their world view to earn their trust and help reshape their lives.
And this is what you can do with your readers.
Meet readers at the edge of their skills where they feel challenged and unable to move. Guide them through valuable content written in your unique voice toward a solution. Then they can confidently take their next step.
In the book, the author shares two important pieces of advice he receives…
One: know all their [the homeboys and girls] names…Two: It’s more important that they know you than that they know what ya know.
How dancing to the same rhythm lets your reader know you
Knowing your ideal customer dissolves the inherent paradox in being unique yet still belonging. When you stand comfortably and learn to dance confidently in your “saddle shoes,” you get to both express your unique self and at the same time, attract and belong with those who need and want your specific services and brand of quirky.
Your WordPress website design is one of your “shoes”
One way to both express your uniqueness and connect with those you are meant to serve is to customize your website. There are the mostly static aspects—colors, fonts and logo, as well as the ever-evolving content—text, images, videos, and more.
Both aspects are important to help you and your website come alive on the virtual page. In today’s online world, people often “meet you” online first. That amplifies the importance of boldly getting your hand into the air and expressing your unique viewpoint as if to say—,”pick me—I have something to share that will be helpful and interesting to you.”
Lace your feet into your reader’s shoes
As I grew older, I no longer had to wear saddle shoes. I also learned from those years of “not fitting in” the value of being myself and the power that comes from both being unique and belonging. Doors open and opportunities to connect with your ideal customer became available when you express yourself.
It is still scary. Yet once you know your readers and are willing to express your unique voice, you can then meet them where they are. You can dance with them as they learn the moves and become fans and customers.
Creating sustainable website content
When you know how you’ll express who you are, you can then enhance your site visitor’s experience by displaying your own unique voice. This gives your reader a chance to know you and how you teach. On your website that includes—
- Your flair for words.
- Your turn of phase.
- Your use of images relevant to your content.
- Your selection of topics that share your expertise.
Your unique voice and visual style are what catch the eyes of your reader and encourage them to keep moving down the page.
Expressing your unique voice is what moves site visitors to readers. From someone watching to someone who says, heck yes, I want to do business with you.
*Bubley, Esther, photographer. Washington, D.C. Saddle shoes are still popular at Woodrow Wilson High School. Oct. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress
Are you ready to lace up your saddle shoes and claim your uniqueness?
No matter where you are in your website design or content creation journey—ready to learn the basics and get your first website online or ready to add a unique flair to your online content—a guide can help.
Want help? Leave a comment below and share your challenge. What keeps you sitting on the sidelines watching instead of lacing up your favorite pair of shoes and expressing your unique voice?