Influence is a weird beast to consider. When you think about those that have an impact on your life, it’s all over the board. The good, the bad, the bad-at-the-time-but-good-looking-back-on-it ones.
Personally, of course, hands-down, my biggest influencer is Charmer (shocker, I know). To me, an influencer pushes, pulls, sometimes shoves you in different directions. I screw up, she is there to help me get back on track. She’s there to celebrate wins, help with defeats. She’s there to talk, to kid, to prod. We’ve been through all of those things in life that we must all deal with on our own, and she’s strong, helps work out the way forward, and keep on going. One step at a time, sometimes the tiniest of steps, sometimes huge, massive, incredibly challenging steps. But she’s always kept family first, always kept doing the right thing (or at least what we can figure out is the right thing!), always having my back.
On the kink side, I know it’s no surprise, but she’s also been a big influence on that – showing that it’s cool to talk through things, that we both have ideas, that we both love doing new and different things mixed in with things we know and love. That all of this is a grand experiment and that it’s a blast to push buttons and explore, and that that’s ok to do.
Professionally, I’ve had some surprises in terms of influencers. One that gave me a wake-up call early on – he was a jerk. He always foisted situations on my shoulders and he laid the blame at my feet for not dealing with it. But I’ve never forgotten the one time he told me “you always have a reason for not getting it done – I just want it done!” – at the time, it was irrational, he was out of control. But I totally changed my approach to work right then. I took ownership of anything and everything that passed through my hands. “The buck stops here” applied to me, even though I was a lowly worker bee and it changed my relationship with my boss, my customers, my co-workers.
I don’t think it was that boss’s intent, I don’t credit him with being that great of a boss. But that phrase, and feeling like I couldn’t do anything about things I didn’t own… so own them all, has been a surprisingly huge impact on my life professionally. I gravitate toward people that do the same, and I help show others how powerful it can be in your favor.
My father was another one that has shaped how I approach things. He was infamous for breaking the rules in the military – there is story after story of someone saying “go here, do this, do that,” whatever. Dad figured out a different way, slightly faster, slightly different, slightly oddball but better approach. In basic, “See that encampment over there? Sneak up” He knew the canyon was bugged, knew it was a setup to be seen. He went around. They had to modify the training materials because of it. I loved the approach. More than once, it’s caused me to stop and think about different ways to get something accomplished and often it’s a great tool.
In the “TTWD” space, influencers have been friends and bloggers. I realize that’s really a broad stroke statement, but the reason is… I’ve mentioned before, I’m a pretty innocent prude. Probably can’t claim that as much anymore, but in life, I was, for sure.
Bloggers have shown that real people do real things and that there are some really fun, different exciting, challenging things we can do. Things that it’s not weird to think about, or consider. Things that may be “out there” or might not be. But that it’s ok to talk about it. That it’s ok to learn about things, figure out what you’re interested in. I remember some friends were over and we were all sitting around talking, totally casually, about chastity cage features and functions. It was surreal to learn others are exploring too. Even answering the occasional question that comes in over DM/Twitter or whatever. It’s a big push to continue.
The push to start blogging in the first place came from a fantastic, supportive person in that space, opening up the world of blogging, talking about all of this, meeting new people and spinning off this funky, fun piece of our lives. I wrote and ask them if they thought anyone would care what we had to say, they said emphatically yes, that people need to see all sorts of different stories and to just have fun with it all (paraphrasing). Talk about an influencer!
Influencers, for me, usually come out of the blue. A chance message. A weird encounter. An email and follow-on conversation. A willingness to communicate and nudge (or even push hard). It’s rarely something I can predict, and, as I mentioned, sometimes I don’t even see it in the moment, only looking back.