I am a plumber, quiet and unseen.

If you live in your house for 30 years and never have a leaky shower, dripping pipe, or busted drain, you don’t ever think about the plumber who was hired when your house was built. If he does his job right and is highly competent, you don’t notice him; you don’t even know he was there. You don’t stare in wonder every time you turn on your faucet and think “My God, this plumber was brilliant!” Everything just magically works the way it should. 

For years I labored under the delusion that my role as a web developer was similar. If I built a fantastic website,  posted engaging content, optimized the graphics, sped up the page load time, and built intuitive applications that ran the way the user expected… then no one should notice I was there. People should have that automagical feel when they visit a site and it just works the way it should. They should rarely think… “Man, the guy that built this was brilliant!”

And so I’ve never sold myself. I’ve always had a distaste for the idea of self-promotion. It seems unnatural to me. It feels seedy. I know self-promoters with a hyper-inflated sense of their own worth: claiming abilities they don’t have, taking credit for other’s work, and seeing nothing wrong with it. I see people who are completely incompetent in their field, and yet are heralded as “experts”, simply because they are so good at selling themselves and their stories.

I know it doesn’t need to be this way. There are plenty of truly competent, brilliant individuals whose self-promotion is justly deserved. But I’ve never screamed to the world to look at how great I am. I guess that’s reflective of my personality. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to this work in the first place. I’ve always shunned attention, tried to blend in, stay out of the way. I could write posts upon posts about that… but I’m digressing…

The problem, as I’ve only recently identified, is that if you don’t sell your own story, it turns out you let other people write you into their narratives. They cast you in whatever light best suits their own needs. They pigeonhole you. You become a two-dimensional caricature in someone else’s play. Facts become irrelevant. Truth is easily blurred with the stroke of a pen. The narrative, however fictional it may be, is all that matters. And it isn’t your story… it’s theirs.

So I’m turning a new leaf, or at least attempting to. I need to learn the art of the marketer. I need to learn to sing my praises, to sell my abilities, to take full credit for the work I do. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. It’s going to be a hell of a challenge. But it’s something I need to do if I want to be the author of my own tale.

It’s my story. It’s almost halfway done. Better late than never.

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