Recently, I came to realize that no one is 100% themselves on social media. It’s not that they are trying to hide things, but there is not just enough context available in Tweets, pictures, or videos to truly understand who someone is or what they’re like. It’s the difficulty with the written form: adding personality to words on the page or screen lacks tone and inflexion. You can come close to getting your point across, but also cannot do so that every person will understand.
I realize this about myself is well, and to be very honest, who you see me as is a curation of my life. I rarely get personal, only doing so when I want people who remember that I’m young in efforts to ease the judgment they sometimes pass through their screen to mine.
So who am I really? What am I like in real life? And how does that play into my coaching?
To start, I’m a weird combination of Myer’s-Brigg’s letters. While it changes, ISFJ is the personality type I often get. Despite what you might see on the internet, I am introverted. I am not quiet, but I do have a certain level of shyness that I have worked hard to overcome. If you were to meet me at a coach’s conference, I’ll talk your ear off all day long, but I won’t initiate that conversation. I speak when spoken to or when I have something that needs to be said. This gets my athletes sometimes, because I’ll watch them perform an exercise with a large amount of intent before quietly moving to the next athlete without saying anything. If something isn’t wrong, I don’t fix it, nor do I say anything other than some encouraging words like “Good job” or “nice work.”
I am not quiet, though. Growing up in a family of eight kids, loudness is a characteristic that was nurtured. My voice carries when I talk; I don’t have an inside voice. When a sibling brings a significant other home for the first time, we warn them that the dinner table gets loud and overwhelming, even if they’re an extrovert. I’ll admit that being an introvert, I struggle a lot with holidays because when everyone gets together we overwhelm each other, and I retreat to some place in the house or in the neighborhood to be alone.
If you’ve followed me on social media for while or do know me in real life, you may notice that I tend to be present for little snippets of time only to disappear again to the recesses of my own mind. I’ll tweet five things in a day only to not post anything for a week. Post a lot on an Instagram story, then lower the amount I post for a week. Sit and talk with friends at church or events, only to slip away to be by myself. But even then, when I speak you’ll hear my voice, which is great for coaching teams and large groups of young athletes. I may be introverted, but I am not quiet.
The thing about being alone for me is that it gives me time to think and process the social interactions I do have. Being introverted, someone had suggested reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Cain discusses some of the common misconceptions about extroverts and introverts and defines how one might be able to see the differences between the two. Introverts, as she puts it, are not shy or timid but merely overstimulated. The brain needs less stimulation to be in homeostasis.
This partly explains why I have no problem training alone in silence. No headphones, no training partners, and sometimes no lights (we have enough light from windows at the facility). Silence allows me to process and think. This leads to solving problems and pouring over the programs I coach my athletes through, always questioning and seeking deeper insight. I don’t subscribe to the “Growth Mindset Culture,” but thinking for me has turned everything into a learning opportunity. When I think I am constantly in a state of learning.
One thing that is accurate one might find from social media is that I am a creature of habit. If you Googled Type A personality, my name and picture is going to pop up as the primary example. I eat the same thing for breakfast, walk the same route every day, train at the same time, and have the same habits. This helps combat the hecticness that coaching can bring. Knowing that I have controlled the controllable things in life helps me handle the chaos that sometimes ensues in coaching or working with kids.
I write these things, not to confuse people of who I am because I am a bit different in person than I am on social media, but because it is often best to have a context of who you are talking to. Someone I never met told me I was a good coach, but they have never seen me coach or talked to my athletes. Someone thought I owned the facility I coach at, but was likely disappointed to find that I’m just some 25 year old kid blogging from his mom’s basement because I can’t afford my own place. The things you see on social media are snapshots, not films. You may see what made the trailer, but it won’t make sense until you watch the movie.