You know that feeling when you write an essay, and you just want to submit it and get it out of the way? That’s what I am feeling right now.
I feel like trying to write this blog, I don’t know how to write anything.
I can’t organize my thoughts to create a cohesive sentence, which got me to thinking: what is the cause of all of this?
Thinking hard about it, I am beginning to think that not only did University NOT prepare me for anything, it may have hindered my ability to write a usable blog post.
Not only is blogging something that comes from both the heart and the brain, but it is something so tied up in emotion and opinion.
If I were to go back and give my early University-self a piece of advice from what I have learned, it would be to hold onto three things that University seems goes through pains to beat out of you: personality, intuition and collaborative desires.
Loss of Personality
The first to go is personality.
Nothing of what you write is expected to have any kind of personality, personal flare, or unique pizazz. Every voice of every essay should strive to sound the same: neutral, “professional”, and blah, blah, blah.
But so far, with three months out in the professional world, I have yet to see a place where this form of writing fits.
When people come to a blog over a news source, they WANT to read personality, emotion, and enticing material, on top of it being informative.
Personality writes blogs, and the ones that are informative, academic, and captivating are usually SOL because the person writing has a personality fit for a traditional scholar.
Those emotional personalities shape what we do and how we interact, and that is what helps us build and maintain strong social media experiences, so it’s important to infuse your personality.
Loss of Intuition
The next thing that’s lost is intuition.
Heaven forbid you go with your gut, or lay a claim based on an intuition you’ve had. As a lowly university student, your opinion does not have the ability to deduce something fantastical.
If the technique you’re using hasn’t come from your textbook, or the style you are writing in isn’t a part of the grammar guide (that that particular professor has elected to use) you are going against the grain and your writing is not perceived as valuable.
Social media is all about intuition. Intuition lets you know where to strike and how to strike up a conversation, and experience helps you maintain those things. I have read blogs that describe why nobody likes automation.
People want to talk to humans so go with your gut stresses the fact that in the professional world, those who trust their intuitions (and are okay with getting them wrong sometimes) are the ones who go far. So trust that intuition.
Loss of Collaborative Desires
The final thing to go is collaborative desires.
Regardless of how many group projects there are that try to encourage that ideas are meant to be shared, the simple fact that people are still competing for the best grade (and the fact the best grade is the most rewarded) means that people are still out there to get their own.
By the end of those 3 to 7 years, those who are “winning” at University are usually those who play things close to the vest and divulge only a modicum of information to their peers.
In my short term experience in the start-up world, that mentality doesn’t fly very far.
Your goal should not be to be better than everyone else, because inevitably someone who has strengths in areas other than the one at hand will get left behind. Always strive to make those around you the best they can be, especially if you are the strongest at that particular moment.
Because when that time rolls around when your particular weakness is the task at hand, you know you’ll have a network of support helping you get through it. Those are the teams that succeed–the ones that lean on each other, like cards in a card house, in order to make something truly spectacular.
I guess the moral of my advice is to try and forget everything you were taught in University, and take away only what you’ve learned.
I know I have learned that I hated speaking without personality, and that something was missing.
I knew that at times my intuition was correct even though I couldn’t find peer reviewed sources to back me up (or had the budget to run experimental trials). And I knew that helping my friends succeed was a much more fulfilling endeavor than a hollow best-mark-in-the-class.
And now I turn it over to you, the reader: If you had one piece of advice for myself or for someone who was about to enter the world of social media, blogging, or even just communication studies, what would it be?
- Editor’s note: Matt is a real person and more colourful than the little grey face on his bio would suggest. This is a Gravatar bug that we hope to have fixed soon!