The other day my friend, Doug called when I was working on my post for Pointless Overthinking. When I responded to his question to tell him what I was doing, he said, “Oh, that’s awesome. Send me the link to that blog.”
I did and then….<nothing.>
Did he not like my latest post? Did he not like any post? Maybe he didn’t read it? But he asked for it? <Gulp>
Vulnerability is hard.
When I applied to be a writer for Pointless Overthinking, I didn’t tell anyone in my in-person life. I was excited that I might have the opportunity to be a writer for a blog I very much admired but telling someone seemed too scary — I didn’t have the guts to admit it out loud.
Six weeks went by. Because it was well within the window of expected response from Troy, I didn’t think about it much one way or the other.
Then from deep inside, my courage to follow-up won over the vulnerability of confessing that it mattered. I sent a follow-up email to Troy pointing out how well I can pointlessly overthink. And he wrote me back within the day.
This internal struggle reminds me how much I’ve learned about vulnerability in recent years, primarily from Dr. Brené Brown’s research. She defines vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” It is where we go when things matter and yet they are out of our control. Which I believe is the heart of life.
But she has researched extensively the connection between vulnerability and courage. “In my most recent research on courage and leadership, the ability to embrace vulnerability emerged as the prerequisite for all of the daring leadership behavior.” Or said more succinctly in one of her most oft repeated quotes, “I believe that we have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage.”
Whether it is leadership, creativity or intimacy, we have to risk emotional exposure in order to show up. If something matters, it will hurt if not met with success, acclaim or acceptance. But I’ve learned that showing up always results in SOMETHING that keeps moving me forward on my journey. I’ll never be able to say that I don’t consider what this potential audience of 27,275 Pointless Overthinking subscribers might think as I write this – but I get closer to knowing what it is that I think of my effort.
And what about what my friend Doug thinks? Something I read in a book published by blogger, Julia Preston’s “Voices: Who’s In Charge of the Committee In My Head?” about her life and blogging experience gave me insight into the reactions, or lack thereof, of my non-blogging friend.
“One of the most valuable lessons that I ever learned about vulnerability is that the more willing I am to tell the truth about myself to a trusted listener – someone who will not judge me for whatever heinous crime that I believe I may have committed, the more of me there is to love. The more others trust me enough to share from within the depths of their being, the more that I realize that we’re all struggling with the same human foibles.”Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee In My Head? by Julia Preston
My mountain climbing friend and former IT work colleague, Doug, isn’t a blogger or writing in any format that I know of to share his authentic life. If I took up knitting, I certainly wouldn’t expect any insightful commentary from him on that pursuit. So why do I expect it about writing?
Because to speak to anyone else, writing has to be vulnerable and authentic. Sometimes opening that vein to pour onto the page takes a lot of guts but it’s the only way to reach to others who are willing to walk through vulnerability to get to courage.
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(featured photo from Pexels)