A few days ago I put a link to a Dear Sabrina post on my personal Facebook page for the first time. It wasn't my first post: it was my fifteenth. And I did it only after a couple friends had already posted links to this blog on their own Facebook pages. I know that at this point, Facebook is the quickest way for me to reach the most people--and that's what I want to do, right, reach a lot of people? So why have I been so hesitant to actually put this out there in the world?
I have to admit that I am more or less terrified to be launching this blog. For the weeks and months that I built it--choosing a theme, customizing it, watching dozens of WordPress tutorials, reading about (and ignoring) SEO--it was actually quite easy. Even putting up the first ten to fifteen posts was easy, because I knew no one was reading them.
But then a couple days ago I emailed a bunch of friends to announce the blog, and now I'm starting to share posts on my personal Facebook page, which means that people are visiting Dear Sabrina. Which is mostly great, except that it opens the door to you, dear reader, realizing a few things I've been worried about:
I'm too earnest.
I'm too simple-minded.
I'm too derivative.
I don't actually have that much to say.
My life and interests can't possibly be interesting to anyone.
There are already enough bloggers doing this much better than I ever will.
Need I go on?
I know I'm not unique in feeling these things, in having fear of releasing a creative project into the world. I think the fear comes down to vulnerability, to showing you my weaknesses (and I don't just mean my less-than-perfect pictures); I mean the weaknesses in my writing and thinking, the hokey things I find beautiful or meaningful, my lack of intellectual rigour, or any number of other things that show that I'm not that smart, that funny, that creative, that thoughtful. I'll stop enumerating them now and let you discover more as you work your way through the blog. Because eventually, they're all coming out for everyone to see.
But maybe--maybe--being vulnerable isn't so bad. Maybe showing weakness can connect us to others, and maybe connecting to others is one of the most healing, restorative acts we can engage in. Maybe being vulnerable actually helps to heal our very vulnerability--or at least allows us to see it more as a liability than an asset.
I'm not the first person to suggest that there is value in vulnerability. Brené Brown's excellent TED talk on vulnerability is empowering and enlivening (as is her book Rising Strong). And the poet and philosopher David Whyte addresses vulnerability in his book Consolations with these words (I first heard this in his conversation with Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being):
Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without; vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present, and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature; the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability, we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.
That last line really resonates: "...in refusing our vulnerability, we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence..." And who doesn't need help, right? Goodness, I certainly do. In being an expat, in raising young children, in navigating marriage, in getting to the airport, in translating letters from the immigration agency, in trying to figure out what the f&@k to do with my life, and on and on and on, I need help. In writing this blog, I need help--your help, to be specific--to be clear, to be honest, to be real.
So there you have it. I'm terrified and I'm vulnerable. What about you? What do you do in your life that scares you?
Photo by Tobias van Schneider.
Jodi, I was just reading David Whyte's essay on vulnerability a couple days ago and thought about sending it to you! I couldn't agree more with what he wrote and what you've written here. Vulnerability is a practice, a daily walk that requires immense grace, but which is completely necessary to human existence and interaction. This whole blog, as much as I've seen so far, is a lovely example. So please keep it up! It helps keep the rest of us honest. =)
The first comment from the actual Sabrina! I'm so honored to read your kind words. I think you are so right that vulnerability and grace belong together. Thanks for being such an exemplar of both.
Great post. Fear sadly controls too many peoples actions and restricts their growth. Whether that growth comes from internal strength or needing to accept vulnerabilities and ask for help when needed to enable growth. Accepting vulnerability is a great way to enable your own growth and development and ultimately conquer the world with your blog.
Craig, you know you've helped me cut through the fear (and all the other procrastinating shenanigans) to make this happen, so I am indebted to you. But if you want me to conquer the world with this thing, I'm going to need more coaching. =)
🙂 love this chain
I think I have read every post on your blog so far and find myself thinking, I can so relate!!! And if you weren't brave enough to be vulnerable, I would never be allowed that connection - to you, to your words, to humanity. I am appreciative of your courage to put this and yourself out there. I was thinking about your quotes here and in other posts - how you augment your words with passages from others - to clarify or capture a feeling or sentiment. Your posts do the same for me - your words help clarify my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own sentiments, which I then can share with others to help communicate what I am feeling or thinking. It's a gift! Thank you!
KP, that's so lovely to hear. It can be way too easy to sit alone with our fears and concerns and convince ourselves that we're the only ones who feel that way, the only ones so inadequate, the only ones who haven't' figured it all out -- but then as soon as you start talking about it, you often realize we're all in this together. I am so glad my words can help to articulate some of your thoughts and feelings and allow you to share them with others. That makes me very, very happy.