Vulnerability and ripples

March 2 by

Vulnerability and ripples

My personal life has been a little chaotic lately, and I can hear the changes in my writing voice.

That may sound obvious, I know, I know. But you don’t know how hard I was trying not to let anything show. I thought I was doing a little better at it than I apparently am. I have been fooling myself.

Whatever. That’s fine. I will keep tinkering with the balance, like I always do.

Personal and professional lives are best kept separate.

Right?

You come here for blogging advice, not for whining.

But sometimes, despite the contradiction, being human and admitting your failings is exactly  the connection that can spur even your professional efforts forward. Here’s what I mean.

I’ve been tired and grouchy and beating my head against a few recurring emotional blocks. Then the other day, in a random Facebook chat, a friend said something to me that made the lightbulb finally go off. I realized that my mood tanks each week at the same time like clockwork: every Monday, without fail.

Why?

Turns out, upon examination, that my routine and schedule are spread out in a weird way, and the ebb and flow of my days line up just right so that by Monday (when the house is quiet, the kids are off at school, and everyone else is busy with their dayjobs), I’ve got no energy left, no outside commitments, and I sit around and think too much about things I can’t control. I mope. I wallow.

As soon as I put two and two together, I felt a lot of things.

Relieved.

Pro-active.

And so, so stupid.

I’m an introspective person. (If I’m being honest, way too introspective. Thus the problem.)

But how did I not see the obvious? 

That’s the part that really surprised me. I wrote out a couple of paragraphs on the whole thing in my Facebook status box about how I was struggling, but now realized what to watch for and what I could do about it. Poured out a couple of sentences that made me sound like a mess of a mind, but hey, that’s what the day brought forth this time. Maybe someone else was as clueless as I was, and could use a similar nudge. At the very least, I could send the thought out and get rid of it, right? I mean, it wasn’t all that confessional. Just a little blip.

Oh, but then.

Hmm.

I hesitated to hit that “post” button. It seemed too personal. Too vulnerable. I know I tout authenticity all the time, and I’m certainly a talker supreme, but when it actually hurts or hits home?  I go inward. I go private. I don’t want to shed light on my darker corners… especially my stupid insecurities.

But what the hell, I figured. This is Facebook, and this is how I feel.

I hit the button.

Didn’t get many likes. Didn’t expect to. Got a couple of supportive comments, and those were nice.

But then, do you know what?  I got no fewer than seven private messages from random Facebook friends who were in the same boat and didn’t want to comment visibly and say so in public. Three of them I haven’t talked to in ages, and even so, when we’ve talked, we haven’t gone all that deep before.

But they each messaged me one-on-one and vented, and we commiserated, and we caught up, and then we laughed over it all. We each needed it. I think we all came away smiling… or at the very least, feeling less solitary.

Somebody just had to admit it first.

Sometimes, other people need you to express your inner thoughts before they feel the bravery and permission to express their own.

You can be a beacon. A true help.

You never know who’s waiting right there in your own audience with the same doubts and fears, but feeling alone in them.

One friend in particular who messaged me, a writer I’ve known for years, came to decide after our online chat that she should give a big old “screw you” to her own specific mental block. She decided to post a few personal things to her dusty blog, which in her mind, came at the risk of sounding like less than the shiny-happy-author person she wants her readership to see. And she did. And the post went live on her site, her voice speaking out loud for the first time in a long, long time. And it’s a good post. (And since she said I could share, here’s the link, if you’re curious.) It’s forward progress. It’s a bright step.

But here’s the thing.

Maybe that writer’s blog post will inspire someone to go talk to a room full of kids. And maybe one of those kids will do something different as a result, or feel encouraged at an important time. If I hadn’t talked to her last night, that post wouldn’t exist. (Not that I’m taking credit for her action at all — that’s all hers — but just follow me here.) That happened after our conversation. If I hadn’t posted that Facebook status, she wouldn’t have talked to me about her issue. If I hadn’t talked to the friend that started the whole line of thought, I wouldn’t have written the status update. If that friend hadn’t been willing to share a bit about his own lousy day in a Facebook conversation with me, I wouldn’t have had that line of thought at all… and it goes on and on into infinity.

And now, I’m sitting here telling you, a new audience, in a completely different blog post. That one little spark is still going.

I’m not saying air your dirty laundry for the world to see. Good Lord, please don’t — especially online. Online is forever.

But so is real connection.

And connecting means being willing to be vulnerable, and to admit when things are hard.

Often, that’s when we speak the clearest. And you never know how far out those ripples will lead.

Or who needs to hear you the most.

.

vulnerability-and-ripples-InkwellBasics

(Image credit: Melissa Ricquier)

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Tracy Lucas

About Tracy Lucas

Tracy Lucas is a writer, editor, and the co-owner of Inkwell Basics. She owns Four Square Creative and Smash Cake Press, and she blogs about writing and publishing at her personal website. She has written and sold more than one hundred and fifty pieces for print, web, radio, and stage.

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