You need to know this: You are not as interesting as you think you are.
And that’s okay. It’s just important that you know it.
It’s human nature to think that you are interesting. You get to live in your body and experience all these thoughts and desires and observations that only you can experience the way you do. You get to identify your quirks and peccadilloes firsthand. Thus it is your natural tendency to think that you are just as interesting to other people as you are to yourself.
Perhaps at some point you’ve said that you should write a memoir or start a blog or be on a TV show. Because you have an incredible story to tell: your life story, your online dating stories, your special talent, etc. You believe that you are worthy of a rapt audience.
I want you to step back for one second and consider the possibility that you are not interesting. You are not unique. You are one of 7 BILLION people on this planet. There is nothing you have experienced or observed or thought that someone hasn’t already done.
BUT…there is a but.
The key is to stop making it about you. Stop thinking of yourself as interesting and start thinking about what other people are interested in. Put your audience first. You have tons of stories to tell–figure out which ones are funny or horrifying or insightful, and determine how can you tell them in a way that will captivate and benefit your audience.
Your audience comes first.
I’m not just talking about media. I’m talking about everyday conversations. Don’t share everything with your friends. Share the good stuff, the juicy stuff, the vulnerable stuff. Relate to your conversation partner or your audience. Conversations aren’t TED talks, but this is about respecting your audience, whether it’s your mother when you call home tomorrow, a group of acquaintances at a BBQ this weekend, or the people who take the time to read your blog. Respect them by telling a great story and asking great questions, every day.
Again, it all starts with the realization that you are not as interesting as you think you are. I guarantee this. You are not the exception. I am not the exception.
Let me repeat that: I am not the exception. Sure, I write a blog that is largely about myself. But every time I sit down to write, I think, “Will this be interesting to my readers? Will they gain anything from it? How can I best tell the story?”
I don’t succeed every time. But I promise you that I always try. I really do. It’s actually really good for my ego when a blog entry or Facebook post doesn’t get any comments/Likes, because I can learn from it. I can ask myself, “Why wasn’t that post as interesting as I thought it was?”
The answer, all too often, is, “Oh yeah. I’m not as interesting as I think I am.”
Take yourself down a notch, consider your audience, and hone the way you communicate. You’re not as interesting as you think you are, but you have the ability to be selectively fascinating. Good luck.
Related entry from the Blank Slate Press blog: Authors, Ego, and True Stories