Recently, my local newspaper compiled a list of our town’s 30 most influential people. I did not make this list. What am I even doing with my life…? I’ll be sobbing in my flat white for days. Did you pick up the sarcasm? You did. Good. I’d link to the post so you can read the comments, but well, no links for them and their click bait article. #sorrynotsorry

BUT, it got me thinking about influence. What makes someone influential? There are entire industries based around influencers why then, can’t we measure it with any real clarity? What IS influence and who gets to decide what is influential? I’m glad you asked. Here are my thoughts on the whole thing.

I was in my car for something like 18 hours this weekend, I had plenty of time to think this over. Brace yourself.

It came down to this; influence can be cultivated, it’s definitely subjective and you never really know the impacts of it. What makes someone influential is people listening to them. Equal parts empowering and terrifying, right? It’s why we have to be so careful about who influences us. Who we allow space in our mind to shape who we are.

There are plenty of women who have experienced or are experiencing the negative impacts of influence that read this very blog. Negative repercussions with their relationship with their body, their family, their spouse or children. Not to mention their experience with the world at large. Thanks, patriarchy. We labour under the weight of influence in so many areas of our life, it’s about time we starting asking some questions.

Who ARE these people?

Who are they and why are we listening to them? Are they worthy of the space they occupy in our hearts and minds? I encourage you to ask yourself those questions every single time you feel yourself being influenced by another person. You have to determine if that person is worthy of your time considering their opinion. Consider the things that make you feel like rubbish, did they start with you?

Or is there someone in your life who is causing this upset with their influence? I used to work under a man that thought I was hopeless, lazy and more than a little bit slow off the mark. None of which I believe about myself. But over time, under his influence, I started to doubt myself. This went on for months and months and it was only after I was out from under his umbrella of grossness that I started to feel confident in my abilities again.

Question everything, team.

Bloggers, especially question bloggers and social media influencers. Hold them to account. Demand they be open with you. Anyone who can’t be open with you doesn’t deserve your trust. I really believe that. Sometimes I’m online and I see campaigns I’ve turned down or not been chosen for posted without disclosure. It’s not cool. So, ask away.

Question it all! From the way the world works right down to your opinion about how late is too late to eat. Who told you that? Are they someone you want shaping your life? Are you even okay with that? Ask yourself what’s in it for them and whether or not you can get on board with what they are saying.

What if you gave yourself the permission to BE the influencer?

An influencer is anyone who says something out loud for others to hear that has an impact. For better or for worse. I made that up, I should have Googled the actual definition, but that’s what it looks like for me. So what if the person you listen to, that other people listen to, were you? Because it could be and in the case of who you’re listening to, it should be you.

The great news is that anytime we say something we have the opportunity to influence, and we should take that seriously. It’s something I had to spend some time getting comfortable with when I started this blog. Was I okay with having an influence? Sure. But did I feel worthy of that opportunity? Not really. At the time I questioned my own voice and ability to effectively lead myself, never mind anyone else.

It’s still something I struggle with.

My issue is that I didn’t feel good enough or smart enough, stylish enough, together enough. But that was a lie. A fear I had and a story I told myself that stopped me from using my voice. You don’t have to be perfect to impact people and use your influence for good. We kind of HAVE to, the bad guys aren’t too concerned with whether they are worthy or not. Let me tell you.

You have a voice and you should use it. Be your own influencer. Don’t wait to feel perfect or worthy of the space. And certainly, don’t wait for your home town to put you on some list. Trust your gut with people, do what is right for you and use the voice you have to create some good stuff out there in the world online and off. You’ve got this.

{wow, that ended up rather extensive, my bad}

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