Putting yourself out there

To succeed in any industry—art, entrepreneurship, the entertainment business—you’ve got to put yourself out there. We all know this. It’s common knowledge.

For some, “putting yourself out there” means launching a new program, service, or product. For others, it means pitching yourself to a podcast. Or sending a true story in a newsletter. Or booking your first speaking gig.

It means different things to different people, but essentially, “putting yourself out there” means that you’re taking a bold, decisive step to let the world know about your work.

You’re saying, “I’m here, I exist, and I’ve got cool ideas and projects to share.”

And you know what?

It’s scary AF.

Almost every week, I hear from students and readers who say, “I know I need to put myself out there, but I’m so scared. How do you get over this fear?”

For me, the answer is… you have to accept that not everyone is going to like you, be interested in your work, or want to purchase anything from you. It’s not fun, but it’s a fact. Not everyone’s going to dig you. Period. The sooner we accept this, the better.

And then, what about when you get a piece of negative feedback–like a nasty Amazon review, a refund request from a customer, or an Instagram comment from someone who feels offended and outraged?

When those moments arise (and trust me, they will) you’ve got to come up with your own personal “coping strategies” to get through it and feel okay. Different strategies work for different people. Here are a few you can consider…

– Talk back to the haters.

Olympic medalist Simone Biles recently posted a photo of herself enjoying a relaxing vacation with her family in Hawaii.

Immediately, she got trolled by someone on social media who criticized her for partying too much and not being a good role model, calling her “trash” and other terrible names.

Simone replied to the troll publicly, saying, “Talk to me when you train for 14 years and earn 5 Olympic Medals […] my year off is well deserved! Take a couple seats.”

Oh snaaaap! {applause}

That’s definitely one way to deal with online trolls. Talk back and set them straight. Hey, it worked for Simone!

– Or, totally ignore the haters.

Maybe talking back (like Simone) just isn’t your style. Maybe you’re worried it would just inflame the situation even further (sometimes, it does). Another option is to completely block the negativity from your life. Just don’t even look at it.

For example, Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t Google herself or read anything about herself. There are so many awful, snarky people posting awful, snarky things about Gwyneth—and she prefers to stay completely away from all the noise.

For Gwyneth, total abstinence is the best policy. That’s what keeps her feeling calm and sane. This may not be the best solution for everyone, but it works for G.

– Whenever possible, laugh and shake it off.

My friend Susan Hyatt is a Master Life Coach and gets tons of body critiques sent her way. She gets private Facebook messages saying things like, “Susan, I wish you’d stop posting all of those bikini photos. It’s so disgusting and unprofessional. You’re setting such a bad example for other women and girls…”

Susan understands that she’s never going to “win over” these kinds of people, and there’s no point in even trying. If someone’s going to flip out over a bikini photo, that’s their drama, and their problem—not hers.

Sometimes, Susan will respond by posting a close-up picture of her booty and adding a hilarious caption like, “OK, but how about this one tho?” LOL.

We can all take a cue from people like Susan. Lean on your sense of humor to cope with icky situations. It works for her—and me, too!

– Set policies and get help, if you want.

Putting yourself out into the world takes A LOT of courage. To keep yourself feeling strong, you’ve got to take really good care of yourself, which means basic self-care (sleep, nutritious food, movement, playtime, long walks, whatever helps you to de-stress). Setting policies and boundaries for your business is a form of self-care, too.

What kinds of boundaries? Well, maybe you want to deactivate the comments section on your blog. Maybe you want to review your Yelp reviews once a month, but not every day. Maybe you could hire an intern to flick through your emails and deal with the nasty, unproductive stuff so you don’t even have to see it. Those kinds of boundaries can make a huge difference.

And lastly, the only way to get more comfortable with putting yourself out there is… just to DO IT.

There’s no inspirational quote or magic healing balm or sage stick that makes it easier. It’s not easy. It’s hard. But it’s necessary.

Because you can’t build a fan base, build a successful business, or make a positive impact on your clients’ and customers’ lives if you’re hiding out in your bedroom, too afraid to step forward, too nervous to share your work with the world.

You’ve got to put yourself out there.

Will you face negativity and criticism at times? Sure, probably.

But the flipside is that you will ALSO get to experience love, fan mail, appreciation, sales, sign ups, and the deep pride of knowing that you’re pursuing your dream with courage—not hiding in fear. That’s something nobody can steal from you. Not even the meanest Internet troll.