The other day while I was at work I got a text from one of my favourite people, Carrie, a former co-worker and a bad ass chick who unfortunately moved back to Wisconsin and who I never see anymore. She used to fashion blog, same as me, and is a witty and thoughtful writer. (Also same as me, we both used to tuck our shirts in at work, we both had curly brown hair at one point, and we both have an ex-boyfriend in common!) She was texting me because she wanted to start blogging again but was worried. How are you able to open up and be so vulnerable but yet so confident? she asked. I wish I could be that way but I just don’t know how I’d feel if people found it and confronted me about it.
I get asked questions about vulnerability & confidence all the time. And yes, there are people I know in real life who read my blog & want to talk with me about it (and that’s fine!).
I responded to Carrie enthusiastically and joyfully, but continued thinking about her question. Last night as I responded to comments on my blog, I found one from my friend Jess. She wrote me a sweet, supportive comment ending with “I’m so glad you’re back!” Jess is someone who I connected with when I was still pretty early into fashion blogging. I’ve considered her a part of my blogging community ever since then. The same goes for my friend Tori, who I excitedly Facebook messaged before I even launched the new space, and who I can always depend on for support when need be. (We also spent a fantastic day romping around London together a few years ago and yes she is as wonderful & thoughtful in person as she is online!) I have countless other online friends & supporters in my blogging community. And I have cheerleaders in my offline life as well. But, the recent comments on my blog, as well as Instagram, have reminded me of how strong that community can be. Familiar faces have popped back up & I love hearing the words and thoughts of others. Throughout the years, nothing has tickled me more than when I would get the unexpected comment that began with, “I’ve been reading your blog for x number of years but this is my first time commenting….”
The thing I’ve learned about being vulnerable online – and having confidence in your vulnerability – is to remember that there will always be a community of supporters.
When I’ve previously wanted to publish something that I felt like was a little bit too much, I would consult one of these people. Do you think it is okay to write about this? Do you think it’s okay to say this about this? Do you think I should reveal this information about myself? What are friends for if not to look out for you? And at times when I’ve been trolled – which yes, has been quite a lot….because there are always going to be people out there threatened by your willingness to be vulnerable – it’s been my community that has supported me.
If you want to write freely and have command over your own space then share the stories that matter most to you, in the ways that make you feel protected in your ability to be vulnerable. Always give those really trying posts a day or two before publishing. Have a friend look them over. Take away identifying information if it’s about someone else. You don’t always have to share the full story, just the thoughts that matter most to you in the moment. And always have confidence that your stories are valid and need to be told, because there are others out there who are craving to hear them. Stories create community & they lessen the distance that people feel in what we find are actually common experiences. Write away. Write how you feel best writing. Be vulnerable and confident, but always protect yourself. There are others out there who need to hear your stories.