Producing and hosting The SSR Podcast for the last year has taught me about a lot of things. I’ve learned how to read multiple books at the same time, to read really fast, to anticipate sensitive subjects that might require an extra thoughtful discussion, to research books, and to talk about them in a fun and interesting way. But guess what? I’ve also learned a lot about myself!
I like to think that there are opportunities to become more self-aware in almost any situation, but I had no idea that starting a podcast — and building the community around it — would give me so much insight into who I am and what I need to work on. Here are five of the biggest lessons!
1. I really like to be in the nitty gritty of a project.
When I started SSR, the plan was always to do the editing myself… at least for a while. I learned basic video editing in high school and college, so learning how to work with GarageBand wasn’t a huge stretch. In the pod’s earliest days, it was taking me so crazy long to edit each episode that I couldn’t envision myself continuing to carry that part of the process indefinitely. My hope was that I’d be able to get some momentum, find ways to monetize the show (full transparency!), and ultimately delegate the editing to someone else who could do it better — and much more efficiently — than I could.
But a funny thing happened! As I got into a better routine with editing episodes for each week, I realized that I didn’t mind it so much! I actually kind of liked it! I’ve always enjoyed tasks that give me a chance to work with my hands (for lack of a better word), and editing audio seems to scratch that itch for me. It allows me to really get into the details of this larger SSR project — and, yes, it also allows me to let my control freak flag fly.
2. I’m not as adventurous a reader as I thought I was!
Reading across so many genres of YA and middle grade books for podcast recordings has been a reminder of how open I was to reading pretty much anything when I was a kid… and it’s made me realize how likely I am to stay in a narrower lane with my book choices as an adult. Before I started the podcast, most of my “grown-up” reading was contemporary fiction. I would toss in a memoir or a historical fiction novel now and then, but I rarely stepped outside of my box.
Adding SSR books to my reading list has brought back so many memories of reading fantasy, science-fiction, thriller, mystery, non-fiction, and historical fiction books. I can’t say that I feel motivated to bring all of those categories back into my non-podcast reading routine, but I have been thinking more intentionally about how I can diversify my TBR. I’ve been reading a lot more non-fiction in 2019, and I think that’s a good start!
3. I can be really open in the right circumstances.
I tend to think of myself as a full-time introvert, and even some of my closest friends would probably tell you that I’m a very private person. I’m slow to share the details of my personal life and I tend not to ask for help or confide in others unless the situation is really dire. I also don’t like to shine a spotlight on myself or to feel as though I’m seeking attention. All of these factors made it really difficult for me to maintain my first blog, which I launched in 2016 (learn more about that here!).
As a result of all of this, I was genuinely surprised when I found myself getting really honest with guests on the podcast, and even with social media followers via Instagram stories. Before SSR, I wasn’t one to turn the camera on myself and share my thoughts randomly on social media, or to talk openly about things like family, religion, or my history of disordered eating. It was like as soon as I found myself in a more comfortable set of circumstances — like talking about books! — I got way cozier with it.
I’m still extremely private in my day-to-day life, but I’m working on it… and maybe the podcast will help!
4. I can figure most things out if I’m willing to take the time to Google it. (This goes for you, too!)
You wouldn’t believe the number of things you need to learn to do when you undertake a project like this. I definitely wasn’t prepared for all of them! I figured that I would need to pick up on the basics of recording equipment and editing, and that I’d pretty much be able to call it a day after that. L-O-L.
Since launching SSR last year, I’ve had to teach myself basic coding, graphic design, photography, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, shipping, crowdfunding, and so much more. Each time I set a new goal for SSR, I feel really overwhelmed at first. I always feel like I’ve underestimated the number of steps I’ll need to complete in order to get a seemingly simple task finished… and then I panic and wonder if I’ve really bitten off more than I can chew this time.
Luckily for me — and for you, too, if you’re dreaming up a big project — there’s Google! It sounds so obvious, I know, but you really can learn to do almost anything with the right combination of patience and online searching. I don’t naturally have a ton of patience for reading instructions (ask my husband!), but I’ve gotten better at it over the last year. It really pays off!
5. I say “ummmmm” a lot. Like, A LOT.
I’ve joked about this a few times, but I really don’t think it can be emphasized enough. Truly, how many times can one person say “ummmmm” over the course of a one-hour conversation? For me, the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of “infinity.”
When I was preparing to start the podcast, I was worried that I would overuse the word “like” or that I would talk way too fast for listeners to understand. Adults used to call me out for these little tics when I was a kid and I’ve been hyperaware of them ever since… so hyperaware, apparently, that they’ve been phased out of my speech patterns entirely. “Ummmmm” is actually a way bigger issue! It’s gotten to the point now where I can practically anticipate an “ummmmm” during an editing session before it happens, based simply on the tone of my voice before I say it. In all reality, I don’t think this is something that’s caused any problems with my communication in my non-podcasting life, but it’s been interesting to realize it, anyway.