The other night I was listening to a TED Radio Hour on NPR about “Mistakes” which covered Brené Brown's 2011 TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability. She talked about our desire for connectedness, our fear of disconnectedness (shame) and worthiness. It made me think about the blogging community, how the industry is so fixated on influence and perfection that the vulnerability blogging used to have is slowly falling to the wayside.
It's strange because the #1 piece of advice for blogger success is to be authentic. But how do you be authentic without being vulnerable? You can't stand out if you don't take risks… and you can't take risks without being vulnerable. You can't be successful as a blogger unless you connect with your readers, and guess what? You can't make that connection unless you take that first step and be vulnerable to your readers.
Listening to the podcast, I realized that though there are bigger parts of my life that I need to be more vulnerable in… Obviously you can't have a successful relationship with your family without vulnerability, but when it comes to work that depends on authenticity and connection (like blogging). It's odd that we never discuss how vulnerability makes us better bloggers.
I'm not an expert on vulnerability.. and admittedly, it's something I personally need to work on, but hopefully this bit can help you put vulnerability into context with blogging.
TMI is not vulnerability
When I was first listening to the talk about vulnerability, I thought of all the posts that go into gory details. Brown says in the podcast that “one of the big four myths of vulnerability, that vulnerability is letting it all hang out.” It's true, we might talk about things that bother us, sensationalize topics, but are they authentic or ploys for attention? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Perhaps sharing topics you know to make a deeper connection with your readers, topics you know will help them makes a difference.
Vulnerability allows us to be seen, really seen
I hear bloggers talk about how they are not “seen” how they need more visibility. Sometimes I wonder if that theme runs throughout the industry. We all want to be seen.. but do we want to make that raw, honest, attempt to make a connection with our readers? Just how passionate are we about what we're writing about? While we're throwing glitter in the air and pretending we're just as happy as all the other bloggers… is that reality? Or is it just a show? It's impossible for readers to get to know us, if we don't let them see who we are.
Vulnerability allows us to take risks
The very nature of taking a risk means things may not work out the way they are expected. It's a bit of a gamble. When you tell someone you love them for the first time, there's a risk they might not say it back. You write a post that's close to your heart, there is a chance it may not go over well with our readers. We are all imperfect, and we can't see into the future, so we have to take risks in order to make progress. We have to walk through fear. In the video, Brown says, “Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
Taking risks with your whole heart, that's vulnerability.
Vulnerability allows us to experience joy and gratitude
In the TED talk, Brown talks about how we can't selectively “numb emotions.” You can't numb shame without also numbing joy, gratitude, happiness. Walking through the fear of disconnect allows us to experience a the good emotions as well.
Vulnerability allows you to be “enough”
…when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I'm enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.
“Not enough” is a plague in fashion blogging. I see it all around. People expressing their feelings about not feeling pretty enough, not having enough clothes, or enough money, connections, time… whatever for not succeeding. But we are “enough.” Upon Brown's research, she found, the people who regularly step into vulnerability, are the ones with a good sense of “worthiness.” They believe they are worthy of love and belonging, those who do not have this sense wonder if they are not good enough. The good news is that these are thoughts and beliefs which can be changed… and the bad news is that change takes work (a lot of work.) Focusing on the good news, we can all focus on doing what we can to believe we're already worthy of belonging… and that we are already, “enough.”
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