By Lisa Messinger, M.S.
Lisa Messenger recently tweeted: "Let go. Surrender. Detach from outcome. Live in the now." This was a vivid reminder of when I hung on every word uttered by Lisa Messenger and wished I could hang off every high cliff that she was often scaling.
I'm Lisa Messinger. She's Lisa Messenger. I'm in smoggy Los Angeles, sometimes daydreaming about my next column or book while lying on my shabby-chic, soft-as-a-feather sofa. She's all over Australia scaling real-life mountains while conducting high-level publishing industry mergers via smartphone, or surfing Australia's famed waves while strategizing the surf guides to her homeland that she published.
Have you ever become envious of your online alter ego? In the Age of Google, how many of us haven't Googled our own name and not only possibly spied ourselves but others with the same name? Facebook envy is already becoming well-known. Studies show that others believe that there is true happiness behind every friend's "perfect family" smiling portraits. National Public Radio wrote last year of one of the studies that social media "may make you depressed and jealous, but we still love it." Googling your namesakes may strike even closer to the heart.
In fact, in my case, I know of Lisa Messinger, M.D., Lisa Messinger, a major museum curator, and then there's the aforementioned Lisa Messenger, the Australian publishing mogul. I came across her through my typo on Google of my own last name, since her name is the same pronunciation, but just one letter different.
In many Australian magazine cover stories, she resembles Nicole Kidman or Celine Dion and is shown frolicking in fields in tulle skirts, like on the cover of her newer book, Life & Love: Creating the Dream. In one of many such profiles, she is chronicled as, "Lisa has never settled for anything second-rate. It is not part of her makeup or ethos. Lisa makes people's dreams come alive on a daily basis...She oozes passion and drive at every corner and readily admits she never wants to 'settle' or be 'ordinary.'" Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson raves on the book cover, "In the short time I have known Lisa, she's had an infectious spark, and a crazy, fun, anything's possible entrepreneurial attitude. She's a woman to watch."
I got to watch her up close as we once brunched in Beverly Hills on one of her overseas trips. I had initiated an email correspondence with Lisa, who is nine years my junior, after being floored by reading about all of her exploits. Since I thought she might not only be able to co-author it, but publish it as well, we began the early stages of a possible book I suggested, Lisa Messinger, Lisa Messenger: Coaching Yourself to Live the Life You Have Always Dreamed of Through Outrageous Lessons Learned Down Under. I was going to climb mountains, surf and trek the Outback with Lisa as my life/work coach.
However, soon I realized that --- as much as visiting Australia surely would have been "Coolah," the cool name of Lisa's hometown --- envisioning shadowing my in-name-only double made me as blue as the social media studies that would be done a few years later eventually would report. I wasn't Lisa Messenger. Even if I did attempt to mount a surfboard alongside Lisa, if Sir Richard Branson met me, he probably would not note my "crazy, fun, anything's possible...attitude." What's gotten me ahead and been noticed on any review, from kindergarten, to my work at the country's largest media company or world's top think tank, is a dead-serious attention to detail that can't be ignored.
Why was I trying to ignore it and morph into a free spirit? In the spirit of staying true to oneself even with the pressure of those smiling mugs during the approximate 40 minutes a day that Facebook's own studies have shown many of us to gaze, I since got even more serious earning, while working, a master of science degree, replicating the perfect grades of my earlier education. The book I am instead working on is a solo-authored compilation of intense strategic communication management theory essays I penned daily during those 20 months.
If you find yourself measuring yourself against your online namesakes or friends, as that 2016 University of Pittsburgh study noted many of us do often leaving us feeling down, "fasting" from social media one day a week, as a Dutch study found, might leave you feeling more upbeat. A German study showed that most people share online exclusively positive information about themselves, leaving out essential bits of real life. Remember, therefore, that the online versions of your internet namesakes or friends may be as fictional as the characters in your favorite novels --- but you are not.
Lisa Messinger has a Master of Science degree in Strategic Communication Management from Purdue University, for which she was also a contracted strategic communications blogger, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California. Lisa has been a Lead Operations Specialist for the RAND Corporation think tank. She is a longtime columnist at Creators Syndicate and before that Copley News Service. She has won multiple national first-place writing awards and is the author of seven nonfiction books, including My Thin Excuse: Understanding, Recognizing, and Overcoming Eating Disorders with Merle Cantor Goldberg, LCSW. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.