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The Hardest Lesson I Learned Last Year

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It’s okay to show the world who I really am

“You can’t build this website with this text. It’s not right.”

I was showing one of my best friends some of the text that I was planning to include on the new version of my website. His opinion was clear.

“This does not seem right to me at all.”

I stopped talking. I had no idea how to respond.

“You’re my friend. I know you better than most people. I read your articles. The text doesn’t work. Something’s wrong. If you use this text on your site, I think you are missing something.”

It was the type of feedback we all cherish. It’s from someone who knows us deeply and can see what we can’t.

“You are missing from this.”

I still wasn’t getting it.

“You.”

I needed more explanation.

“Look, I read your articles and see what you post online, but it is still nothing like being your friend and having a relationship with you. When I read this website copy, I feel like you are still not letting the world know who you are. Why don’t you put more of yourself in this?”

I was starting to understand.

“You sound like a lawyer, but being a lawyer is 10% of who you are. You are not like other lawyers. You certainly add value as a lawyer, but you also add value to people in so many other ways.”

One of my best friends in the world was forcing me to face a reality that I had not considered.

I was not being transparent enough about who I am. I was not exposing my personality to the people who would want to follow and interact with me.

But is it okay to show the world who we really are? What if nobody likes us?

Who Am I, Anyway?
Most people guard who they are. They don’t show the people around them what they really think, and what they really feel.

I am tired of being that way.

Sometimes, the things that bring us joy need to be shared. That is what my friend was trying to tell me.

So who am I, anyway?

I guess I need to start telling people. Here’s a start.

I am a storyteller.

I was given a love of stories at a young age by some of the people closest to me.
I went to film school because I had to chase that love of stories.
I acted and sang in high school and beyond.
I can be obsessive about studying storytellers. I have watched 48 of the 53 Hitchcock films (maybe someday I will watch the last five).
I still tell stories, to my children, and others, nearly every day.

I love business owners, entrepreneurs, and artists.

The world needs people who take responsibility for creating something new.
The world needs great storytellers.
My law practice is focused on helping individuals in business, creative pursuits, and entrepreneurial endeavors.

I practiced and have a love for martial arts.

I had an obsession with all things martial arts as a kid.
I turned that obsession into a practice, and I earned a black belt in karate.
I love to read about the philosophy and strategy of martial arts.
I used to collect Bruce Lee documentaries, even the “fake ones” with Bruce Le and Bruce Li.
One of my favorite works of literature is a historical narrative of 2nd century China.

I love to cook, eat, and share food.

I was raised by a mother who often said, “If you like to eat, you need to like to cook.”
The simplicity and mindfulness involved in cooking fascinates me. There is a never-ending search for perfection combined with a joy in discovering the pleasure of mistakes.
I show love by how I try to feed the people around me.
There is no joy like a great meal with family or friends.

It’s Okay to Show Who We Are

There is no greater joy, for me, than to be in situations where I feel comfortable being myself. Laughter comes easier. Joy feels simple. Challenges have no teeth. But I have struggled with showing a larger group of people who I really am.

The best lesson I learned last year came from the conversation with my friend.

It’s okay to show the world who I am. It is okay to put more “me” into what I share.

I’m not sure why this is hard, but it is.

So this year, I am embracing who I am and what I can share. I am doing something crazy. I am writing a children’s book — which seems crazier each day. But it is absolutely who I am — I tell stories, to everyone, and especially my kids.

I once read a quote attributed to David Freeman that expresses what I realized after my discussion with my friend:

The goal of life is to take everything that made you weird as a kid and get people to pay you money for it when you’re older.

There may not be a more comforting strategy at the moment.

Learn the one lesson that has changed my life more than any other.

John Mashni
John Mashni Author

I only write about what I have done: no theory. Writer, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Movie Producer, and more… 

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