As an entrepreneur, artist, writer, or creator of any sort that has to put their work out into the world, this can be one of the most vulnerable things to do. It’s scary. You feel exposed. You want to hide, yet your work needs to be out into the world in order to serve people.
If you are an introvert, this vulnerability can feel even more intense.
I know first hand how this feeling can be so crippling.
My Journey of Hiding
I remember when I was in high school, I was asking God what my purpose in life was. I told Him I’d do anything, as long as I could be anonymous. I had a fear of being the center of attention, or being public in any way.
It was fine if I was in a small group setting at my church among people I knew. I led the youth group there and this fear of putting myself out there didn’t surface. It was an intimate setting with friends.
When I didn’t hear a clear answer on what my purpose was, I decided to seek out careers where I could hide in the meantime. I didn’t mind being seen by co-workers… just not the world at large.
My First Hiding Place
After graduating college, I dove head first into tech. This was the perfect starting point because I could truly hide. I was working on a computer, behind the scenes, with no one but my team and my client knowing who I was.
As I continued working, however, I started to feel a need to bring the talents God had given me out into the world. For me, this was my artistic talent that had been recognized by so many of my teachers during my childhood… the talent that came from the work of my hands.
I didn’t know how I would use this talent in a business setting. Certainly it didn’t belong in back-end java development, which was what I had been doing. So, I sought some answers from God. What did He want me to do with this artistic talent He had given me? Surely He would want me to enter some creative field instead?
I searched for answers. I dug into creative fields. I researched what options existed for me.
What stayed steadfast within me was the desire to create my own business one day, if only I could figure out what.
My Training Ground
I ended up in design school to study product design. It was still a behind-the-scenes type career path, and I was completely fine with that! During that program, the entire program was based on giving presentations after we completed our projects. Every week, we presented and presented, as a group and individually, and were critiqued on our presentations.
After nearly 3 years of presenting in front of people, God wiped out the fear of presenting in me, at least in front of a small audience.
This came in handy when I went back into the workforce as a designer now. I went back into tech, but this time on the design side. I was doing more client-facing work now, but I was still trying to figure out what God wanted me to do.
While in this new field, I began to feel that God was telling me that I would have to shed the need to be anonymous. One day, I would have to be the face of my company or the brand that I would establish.
“But, but… so many businesses don’t have the employees’ photos or even the founder’s face on their website,” I objected. I was looking for a way out.
He planted that seed of an idea within me then — that one day I would have to put myself out there in public.
Over the years it started to take root.
Putting Myself Out there on the Internet
During another career transition, I decided to create several blogs, mostly to document my personal journey through this transition. I struggled with whether to put my face on the website or not, but then I decided that it was ok, since I wouldn’t tell anyone about the websites. It was very unlikely that anyone would find me anyways. Plus, I had recently changed my name from my maiden name to my married name.
I finally convinced myself I was safe.
There, I began to express myself freely. It was a place I could gather my thoughts and talk about things going on in my life that I really didn’t have people to confide in. It was risky, but rather than bothering friends and family with my thoughts, I put them all there on those websites, mostly for myself so that one day I could go back and remember how the journey unfolded.
Then, a few years later, I did something even more risky. I joined an online challenge and community, and in that group, people were sharing their stories via video and posting it into the community.
This was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I had met some really nice people on there, and I wanted to share my face with them as they had done with me.
I started a YouTube channel under an alias and thought… there is no way anyone I knew that would find me since my name is not even on there.
Facing My Fears
A few years later, my biggest fears came true.
I received an email from a friend from high school that I was no longer in contact with that had stumbled on my blog. What in the world?!?
I had never intended for anyone I actually knew in real life to read the inner thoughts of my heart and mind on the web like that, but God used this opportunity to eradicate any fear within me.
My worst case scenario already happened to me.
So, what’s there to fear now?
I still had my secret YouTube channel… that’s what!
And then bam! One of my grad school colleagues messaged me and told me he had found one of my videos on YouTube. Oh no!
The thing is, rather than receiving judgment from these people (probably the thing I feared the most), I was encouraged by their responses.
Slowly, my embarrassment turned into acceptance of myself.
Since then, I’ve created a few other niche blogs to help me express myself through times of solitude during pregnancy, rearing a new pup, and embarking on a new blog.
None of those have anything to do with my life now, but looking back, I see that they laid the groundwork for what I am doing on this blog and the others I have created to turn into actual businesses.
I see now that God was using those things to help me overcome this need to hide and be anonymous.
Coming Out of Hiding
For many of us who are putting out something vulnerable into the world, it can be quite scary to share your stories, to put your face on a website, to stand behind what you are working on and show the world who you are, and to put your real name on it.
I get it. I was there.
But, I also know that God was tugging at my heart, telling me to RISE and SHINE.
In order to rise and shine, people need to be able to SEE you, HEAR you, READ what you have to say, and KNOW who you are.
As I embarked on a new entrepreneurship journey, many of those mentors in the entrepreneurship community encouraged us to put our face out there. People connect with people, not a brand name.
After hearing this over and over again, I mustered up the courage to put a picture of myself on the About page of my new business website.
I had been hiding so much that I didn’t even have a picture of myself anywhere. I searched, but couldn’t find one.
Fortunately, as I prepared for a photoshoot and hired a photographer to take pictures of my products and baby models that I arranged from my neighborhood, she suggested that she take a photo of me for my About page, just in my home office. I hadn’t even thought of that, but since it was included in the package, I agreed. I didn’t have to use it, after all.
Haha, I was still trying to find a way out.
Once I saw the picture, however, I thought… you know, maybe there is someone out there who wants to see who the person behind the brand I created. I somehow talked myself into putting it up, knowing that there was barely any traffic to my website anyhow.
So, I did it. I posted my picture.
And you know what happened?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Haha.
No one said anything. No one critiqued me in any way. And none of my past history of colleagues and friends found me unless they checked my LinkedIn profile.
The fear of putting myself out there started to fizzle.
If I’m not going to stand as the face of my brand, proud of the work I am doing, who will?
Facing More Fears
- I put my face out there at trade shows, conquering my fear of selling.
- I put my face on new Instagram accounts that I eventually wanted to turn into businesses, and started posting niche content related to those subjects with my face still there as the profile pic!
- I put my face on new blogs I created. I could still hide behind a computer screen after all! 😂
- I then put myself out there by attending entrepreneurship conferences.
- I even agreed to an interview to be posted on someone else’s website and Instagram page. (I probably agreed because it was such a small account.)
While other entrepreneurs were seeking publicity, I ran away from it.
I’m still working on putting myself out there, as I like to hide behind photos of my family and my kids, but slowly, but surely, I’m learning to have confidence in who I am, feeling like what I have to say is important enough to share, and just showing up as myself.
I know God is calling me to put myself out on videos on new YouTube channels one day, and I will…
God’s Plan For You May Take Boldness and Courage
I’m telling you all this to just illustrate to you that when you love to hide, especially as an introvert, it’s easy to stay behind the scenes, but God may have a different plan for you. In order to do His work in His Kingdom, He may need someone just like you to rise up and be SEEN.
You might be the perfect spokesperson for Him, the perfect author to share your testimony, the artist, musician, blogger, speaker, educator, businessperson, or leader. He may need you to STAND OUT.
I’m encouraging you to heed that call and take a baby step to put yourself out there. Chances are, nothing will happen. The best case scenario is that you’ll have a floodgate open with positive support flowing in, and clients that are excited to work with you. The worst case scenario is that your biggest fear may come true, like it did for me… but you know what? I discovered that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I had imagined. The fear itself is scarier than the actual result of what happened.
God is on your side, and rise up knowing that He is with you, supporting you, protecting you, and guiding you as you step into what He has for you.
When you start to feel fearful, remember Psalm 91 and speak it over yourself.
Have courage. You can do this! Little by little, put yourself out there while no one is looking, and get comfortable doing it.
As you get bigger, depending on what you are doing, you may get some not-so-nice comments. You may even get some haters online. Just delete their comments. They are not worth your time. If you are doing God’s work — what He called you to do — that is all that matters.
There is a saying in the entrepreneur world… once you get your first hate comment… it means you’ve made it! Haha! You’re big enough now to have haters find you! Sometimes it just takes a slight change in perspective to not take these things personally. Their comments usually have everything to do with their character rather than what you are doing. People often project their own issues onto others. Don’t mind them. Just press delete and focus on those you are serving.
Should You Share Your Work with Friends & Family?
When I say put yourself out there, one caveat I’d like to make is that you do not have to share what you are doing with family and friends. Especially in the beginning when you are feeling vulnerable, I would advise that you don’t share your new thing with them. Only share with a select few that will root for you, encourage you, and support you on your journey. We all need cheerleaders in the beginning, not critics.
Putting something that you created out into the world is scary. You don’t know how it will be received. Let your feedback come from strangers and the people you serve first. As you start getting comfortable in putting your work out there and start receiving positive feedback, the fears will start to fade.
Share with your friends and family when you are ready. It could be a year later, or years later. There is no rush. And if it’s not relevant to them, you never have to share it with them at all!
Honestly, most people are so busy living their own lives to really pay attention to what’s going on with you. If they are your target audience, they may find you, but you are by no means obligated to share your work with everyone you know.
Let me end by saying this…
Do not let fear or unworthiness or discouragement stop you from fulfilling the work God has placed in your heart to do. Step out in faith. The rewards are far greater than any backlash you will ever receive.
Do it for Him. Do it for you. Do it for all the people you will serve.
Be brave. I’m rooting for you! You can do it!