It’s not bad advice offered here on using third-person perspective when writing your LinkedIn profile as a method to avoid coming off as overly boastful. That certainly resonated with me as being too overt about what I’ve done or what accomplishments I’ve achieved doesn’t come naturally thanks to an upbringing where bragging was seen as prideful and therefore not ideal.
The philosophy behind the advice to go third-person, to take yourself out of the story and write it more objectively, is one I’ve adopted not on my LinkedIn profile for reasons I may go into at some point, but have used when writing personal essays.
Over the last few years I’ve felt more of an impetus to write down some of the memories and anecdotes from my childhood and life in general. Either it’s just a story that occurs to me that I want to capture or some looming sense that I don’t want to let that moment disappear from my mind. Whatever the case I’ve written several on my parents, grandparents and friends, though I’ve actually published very few.
What I found when I sat down to write the first few was that I was having trouble telling the story from my own point of view. The words just weren’t flowing as I inserted myself into the situation. I felt stuck, like I was hiking up a mountain wearing swimming flippers with rabid chipmunks inside. It just wasn’t happening.
Then I shifted things and started using “he” and “they.” Suddenly the writing flowed and I just kept going.
I had to remove myself. I had to make the story about someone else, even as it’s completely and utterly about me. That was the only way I could get to the honest emotions and feelings I wanted to commit to words. It’s all there on the page and it’s still my story, it’s just from an outsider’s perspective.
There’s lots of good guidance for those attempting to write memoirs, much of which tackles the problem of telling very personal stories but not allowing the writing to suffer because you get too caught up in the emotions of the situations being shared. While I wouldn’t categorize what I’ve been doing as “memoir” exactly, the same mindset is in place to a great extent.
If you’re trying to tell a personal story, even if it’s just for yourself and not for publication or publishing anywhere, and are having trouble tapping into the emotional resources necessary to tell it effectively, consider shifting the perspective of the narration. You may find that the places you can go to by taking yourself out of the spotlight and putting it on a theoretical other helps you keep the quality of your writing intact while not sacrificing the point of what you’re trying to share.