“Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone.” Alan Watts
I have a problem. It’s very difficult to be vulnerable when I write. This is the most vulnerable post I’ve ever done. It’s holding me back. It’s not an ego thing — I don’t think. It’s a terrifying feeling to bare my soul and expose it to the world. Recently, I’ve been really inspired by excellent writers who reveal everything in their work.
I even had an epiphany.
When scrolling down media, I often click on articles that have raw and honest titles. When a writer is vulnerable, I don’t feel sorry for them. I don’t feel embarrassed for them or think less of them.
On the contrary, I admire their strength and courage. I admire that they embrace who they are and share it unapologetically. I can’t think of a better example than Medium’s own Shannon Ashley. Most of the time, the vulnerable parts of her stories are the most relatable.
If I admire vulnerability in other writers, why am I so afraid of it? Vulnerable writers give me a small glimpse into their authentic being. To tell others of their “deep and darkest secrets” is an act of bravery.
It is in these moments of vulnerability that writers connect with the most fragile parts of their readers. It is this connection that transforms lives. This is my ultimate goal.
In anticipation of writing this post, I stumbled upon
Jane Harkness’s post Why Vulnerability is a Writers Most Powerful Tool. In it, Jane says “Making yourself vulnerable as a writer might be your greatest struggle, but it will also be your most important tool.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
In my quest to become a vulnerable writer, I’ve sought the guidance of the expert — Mrs. Brené Brown. Here are her top 5 quotes I hope will inspire us all to be vulnerable in our writing.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
As writers, we are called upon to express emotions many can’t even articulate. The ones who reach deep within and unmask their feelings. The best writers are the ones who articulate their secrets fearlessly. Glennon Doyle is a prime example of a vulnerable author. She talks about addiction, mental illness, motherhood, and finding new love with a woman. In her literature, she leaves it all on the table.
No shame or regret. Instead is it art. Like any piece of art, emotion and vulnerability is the soul of a piece.
Because of her honesty, she has captivated millions and continues to inspire authenticity in her readers. In the end, I hope to be brave enough to reach this level of authenticity. To be able to be open and exposed is the purest act of courage. Being brave in our stories will give us the unbridled freedom we all long for.
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
As writers, we are the biggest risk-takers. Writing requires us to face the unspeakable risk — the risk of rejection. No, we aren’t trading millions in stock or jumping out of a plane. Instead, we are exposing chapters in our life that were difficult, weak, vulnerable, and even dark.
All humans have these parts of themselves hidden beneath a facade, an ego, or an agenda. Not writers. I’ve realized being an authentic writer means embracing this risk. As a writer, we are called to expose ourselves and teach others the freedom of expressing yourself fully — flaws and all.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
Perfectionism is boring in life, and especially in writing. Those who pretend to be perfect get lost in a fake life. There was a point in my life where I would hide all my difficulties.
Me? Struggling? No way.
The more I shared my weaknesses and vulnerabilities with others, the more they would open up to me. This created meaningful connections. When we are vulnerable in our writing, we give readers the space to reflect and share their own struggles. The more we share our stories and lessons, the faster we realize we truly are in this together. Writing is a beautiful medium we can use to stay connected through vulnerability and authenticity.
“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
Some of the thoughts that creep into my mind while writing is the following:
- What if I offend someone?
- What if someone disagrees and comments on it?
- What if they think I’m wrong?
I’ve learned that to get anywhere in life, I have to stop caring about what others think. This is the cardinal rule of living authentically. Perhaps this has been keeping me from reaching my full potential as a writer. At the end of the day, I am not responsible for everybody’s happiness. People will disagree, criticize, and judge. There will also be people who will be inspired and supportive.
As writers, if we spend our time thinking of haters and of how others will receive our message — we will never fulfill our potential. Writing is an art and vulnerability is the message behind our art. It’s what captivates and transforms.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Writing is an act of courage. Plain and simple. They say courage is not the absence of fear, but doing things despite fear. In that case, I will have to stop waiting until I’m fearless.
If writing is an act of courage, I will write even when I have fear. I will express myself fully despite my negative thoughts. I will choose authenticity over fear and connection over perfection. It's a beautiful journey and one I'm excited to embark on.
Wish me luck!