Written By: Loren Petisce
You’ve heard it all your life, from people you love, your friends, as inspirational quotes on the internet, “just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” I agree with this message wholeheartedly, but man, sometimes it’s easier said than done.
I spent some time recently going through some of my older on-air breaks and I learned something. I learned that who I was listening to in some of those breaks isn’t really me. It’s a version of myself that I put out there that I think people want to hear. It’s the version of me that’s “safe” that doesn’t upset anyone with my thoughts or convictions.
When I listened to myself and tried to form an opinion of the person I was listening to, I couldn’t. It’s difficult to remove me from myself, if that makes any sense, but I tried my best to listen to me as an outsider, basically an unbiased version of well, me…hope I didn’t lose you there.
Here’s what I came up with: a solid radio broadcaster who knows radio formatics like the back of her hand, she can deliver breaks well, she ebbs and flows, she has peaks and valleys, she knows the music, but WHO IS SHE?
That’s the question I couldn’t answer.
Do I want to be friends with this person? I don’t know. She seems nice, but I want to know more about her. I want to know what she stands for as a person and I don’t hear that. I hear commonplace opinions, I don’t hear any conviction and I have to ask myself, what am I bringing to the table that no one else is? I know I’m my own worst critic, I’m harder on myself than anyone else; but I’m really looking inside myself here. I know who I am on an everyday basis and truthfully I can’t always find that person when I hear myself on the radio.
I can 100% tell you the reason is because I am afraid people won’t like me. It’s crazy that I work in an industry where my job is to be myself on the radio and I am afraid that people won’t like me! I have always had a difficult time with confrontation, so I guess without even really realizing it, I put out a middle-of-the-road version of myself that no one can dislike…or like, for that matter. A version of myself that no one has an actual opinion on, the worst right? But somewhere in my mind, I thought that was better than people not liking me. Is it? I am not sure, but I tend to think not.
A time in my career where I struggled with this the most was being a co-host on a morning show. Do I have the personality for morning radio, absolutely! Am I good at giving unpopular opinions on things and showing conviction, absolutely not! My co-host at the time, was constantly trying to hammer that into my brain, and I just couldn’t do it. I was so afraid of the audience not liking me, that I would give thoughts and opinions that were neither here nor there.
I listen back to myself and it’s insanely frustrating. It’s so hard to form an opinion or even remember someone who just plays it safe, trying to keep everyone happy. I of course, couldn’t see this back then. When I listen to segments that my former co-host and I did together, he would sometimes have the most ridiculous opinions on things (on purpose), they were usually funny though, and most importantly, it was entertaining! My responses however, sometimes ruined the bit, because I couldn’t commit to saying something that might upset someone listening.
What can you possibly do with someone who isn’t giving you a “yes” or a “no” but a “maybe” all the time? Nothing! It’s not even interesting if one person says something outlandish and the other is afraid of giving her opinion, so she sticks with a vanilla answer. It’s like delivering a joke and having no one laugh at it, or giving someone a balloon and they stick a pin in and pop it right in your face. I could just scream at my former self for being that way, but I didn’t know how else to be.
I have learned and grown from that point, and that’s what matters most and now I’m here telling you why it’s so important to be you!
Thankfully, sometimes I do hear the true ME in some of my on air work and that is me growing and becoming better; not only as a radio personality, but at being true to myself as a person! We’re all trying to be the best versions of ourselves every single day, and it’s not easy for a myriad of different reasons.
I know putting these words on paper is helping me, and I hope it does the same for you! There truly is no one like you, go out there and give the world the gift of the real, honest and true, unequivocal YOU, and I promise to do the same.