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Escape Competition Through Authenticity
Do what no one else can do: be yourself
There is a you-shaped hole in the world that no one is able to fill except you. How do you find that? Do not try.
Recently, I’ve received an influx of compliments on my writing; many of these messages also express amusement in my recent fast growth on Twitter. But the truth is, having any social media following at all is a fluke. This can be easily overlooked or misunderstood by those who stand rigidly by the belief that all “success stories” are told retrospectively through survivorship bias and gatekeep-ish humble-bragging. As cliche as it sounds, being myself is the genuine key to how I’ve gained any presence.
I’ve never taken any of this seriously (my Twitter name is literally a pun). I have no marketing hacks up my sleeve, no growth strategies. I’m just me being me, doing me-things. And this doesn’t change, whether I have 1 follower or 60,000+.
The secret is that there is no secret.
Earlier in the year, I tweeted:
But I forgot to add (because I am realizing this just now): don’t just do something well. Do something you love. Do something you are naturally good at because you are your own brand and your own voice. Creation is not something you do, it should be who you are. Do things that align with your being, do things you don’t have to try at.
I don’t write, I exhale words
I don’t like being seen as a content creator. In fact, I don’t believe content creation or writing is an occupation, because it denotes that creating or writing is a thing we do, instead of something we embody naturally.
For me, writing is not what I do, it’s who I am.
I do not try.
Creating/writing comes out of me the way I sweat during a workout: I don’t “try” to sweat at the gym, sweating happens. It’s a side-effect. Just by existing, you are technically creating “content” (e.g., your text messages to your friends). Just by living, you are self-expressing. To be is to self-express. To exist is to self-express.
Life, therefore, is just a long process of self-expressing and content-creating. You don’t need blueprints, techniques, or strategies because you ARE your blueprints, techniques, and strategies. You are not just the creator, you are the content: true content is not “created”, it is who the creator is, it’s their identity, their fingerprint on the world. If you find yourself squeezing something out for the sake of producing something—that is, trying—it’s no longer content but an engagement puppet. True content is wholehearted and authentic self-expression.
If you are meant to do something, it should come easily to you. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges. It doesn’t mean that you should just fall complacent to the path of least resistance. Instead, it means that you should find the path that feels as natural as swimming is for a fish and let that path accelerate you.
What if I stopped writing tomorrow?
There’s an impression of me on the Internet, an assumption that I write everyday for the sake of pumping out another tweet or Substack essay. But the truth is, writing is one of many things I do to express myself. I play piano, I occasionally paint, and I love cooking and tweaking my own recipes. Sometimes, I self-express not through words but through Debussy and linguine.
I don’t like the idea of being categorized into an industry. I don’t like it when people think of my Twitter as a pop-psychology-self-help account. In fact, I don’t like being labeled as a writer, because I’m not a writer. It only catches a sliver of who I truly am while filtering out the rest of my selfhood. I have a Platonic view on talent: you either have it or you don’t. Everyone has an essence to their being, it’s what makes each of us unique. And whatever makes you unique, that’s your greatest advantage, that’s what you should be leveraging fully to express yourself.
“I just want to be me and do it with excellence.” — Frank Ocean
Take what you have, find what’s good about it, and be narrow but go deep.
My seventh grade music teacher told us that the best compliment you can ever receive is, “you make it look so easy.”
You’ve told me that you love my writing, that you admire the way I’ve establish such an optimistic voice online, and that you’re fascinated by how my Twitter account grew so quickly. Thank you for your support, it means a serious lot to me. I’m truly flattered by your kindness :).
But when I’m asked about how I do it—how I write, how I grow my following, etc.—what I think people are truly asking is, “how do you do this so effortlessly?”
And my secret is that there really are no secrets—of course it’s easy for me to be Sherry, I am me. Of course what I do looks effortless, because this is what I naturally do. This is who I am. I do not try, I never have, and I never will.
Only create from a place of truth and selfhood. You are impossible to impersonate because no one can outcompete you on being you. You have one life, don’t spend it copying someone else.
P.S. if you write to me by replying to this email in your inbox, I promise I write back!
“You don't try. That's very important: 'not' to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more.”
— Charles Bukowski
Thanks for reading Pluripotent! There’s good stuff on the way…I’ll let you know when it’s here 💌 👇 If you have once made a pledge, I appreciate you very much :)