A good line from Sumana:
Marketing is an outbound chore that increases the frequency of inbound inquiries.
This sums up a lot of my aversion to being visible (and easily reachable) in online spaces right now. There’s a negligible line between “marketing” and “posting photos on Instagram” (irrespective of what those photos show) because my work and my online selfhood are largely the same. If people remember that I exist, they might send an inbound inquiry. “Inquiry” here can mean anything from a simple heart emoji in response to an Instagram story, to a complex email asking for advice. Both elicit the same sense of panic: someone needs something from me, and I don’t have what it takes to give it to them.
What’s worse is that I often don’t even have what it takes to tell them I don’t have what it takes.
This is embarrassing. I feel shame around it. I know a lot of people deal with it! But I feel shame all the same.
The other thing I catch myself thinking about is that this is totally a Me Issue. I mean, yes: I can make direct requests that people not message me in certain places. I can turn off comments. I can ask loved ones to let me make the first move in initiating conversation. But I’m not sure that’s actually the solution I want.
I want a list of readily available texts or emails I can send that let people know where I’m at without needing to draft them from scratch when I have no spoons to do so.
Take the little autoresponder texts that Apple offers when someone’s trying to call you: “Sorry, I can’t talk right now.” “I’m on my way.” “Can I call you later?” I finally found the menu to change them to something in my own voice the other day because I was so sick of going through the same cycle: getting an incoming call, thinking “AAAAAAAAA I CAN’T TAKE THIS RIGHT NOW,” looking at the available autoresponder texts, thinking “UGH THESE ARE ALL TERRIBLE AND ROBOTIC,” and then taking the call despite not being in the right place to do so.
And of course by the time the call is over I’ve forgotten about finding the menu to change the text response options.
It’s the tech equivalent of only remembering that you need to buy a new shampoo bar while you’re in the shower and unable to do so.
Anyway, I’ve had some truly delightful inbound inquiries lately. I don’t want them to stop. But I do want to build more internal trust around this: that I’ll respect both my own time and other people’s when I step into conversation.