In my return to personal blogging, starting with this post, I have been contemplating just how much I am going to share of myself here. It’s a double-edged sword, public sharing of personal topics. The act of speaking alone invites judgement, and not everyone will agree with what I present here. That can be challenging to deal with and it may make you question whether or not it is worth it to bother at all.
Writing and sharing your personal story is a healthy and incredibly productive thing to do. This article in the New York Times spotlights numerous studies wherein those who wrote or made videos about their “stuff” (in this case, academic struggle) for both themselves and to be shared with others, became more positive, productive, and emotionally healthy. The results of these studies made a profound difference to the control groups in both short term and long term ways. Some may believe writing or talking about ones self to be vain or narcissistic, and I suppose for some it is exactly that, however most of the time it’s actually a very vulnerable place to put yourself, depending on the context of the content. Is every post a brag or is there true vulnerability being offered? The number of people consistently writing personal blogs continues to advance at an exponential rate. Vulnerability is something like the opposite of vanity, and it takes a confidence and strength to present that to the world. Sharing your personal weight loss journey, for example, humbles the one sharing (Hi! Here is me as a bigger, sloppier version of myself, one I did not like at all… wanna see?! SO vain!) and motivates both the individual and others, seeing the success and revealing the possibility. Being proud of getting off of your ass to achieve a goal, and sharing that with the world is awesome, not obnoxious. This is why there are countless websites where people share their ongoing fitness journey’s – offering motivation and accountability. I see your success, I can better see my own and keep going.
Another example: writing about personal relationships could be perceived as weak or exploitative… or as a willingness to openly question ones self and examine the context of the struggle with others. It shows insight, it shows deep thought has been put into the topic, it shows the human condition and deep care and concern for the outcome. It is cathartic, incredibly, which is a very healthy and therapeutic experience for all involved. This is why group therapy has worked so well for some people who struggled to make progress in one on one sessions, as hearing others shared stories helps us to re-process our own with new perspective.
We project ourselves onto the things we ingest. So when we read books or blogs or social media posts, when we watch movies, tv shows, the news… we presume others intentions to mirror our own. However that does not make it so. Other people are not just like we are. We are all varied, nuanced, different… And this is beautiful! By reading others stories, if we are ourselves strong and stable in who we are: we are validated, motivated, and inspired. We are able to be happy for others achievements, rather than resentful. We are capable of having empathy for others struggles, rather than viewing another’s personal journey as a hotbed of excuses. We do not pass negative judgement on the mere act of expression from another, unless we are triggered by our own “stuff”. Excuses are for people who do not move forward or overcome. REASONS are explanations for a time of challenge, and the difference is in the outcome. Individuals who are not strong within may feel defensive, as others achievements only highlight their own lack of forward motion, and they project narcissism and negativity onto a proven-to-be-healthy act that most others will perceive as positive. This helps them feel better about their own stagnation. Perception is personal projection, and it is not public opinion.
I do not care for Penelope Trunk. Her anti-feminist rantings have infuriated me many times. However I deeply respect, and sometimes envy her ability to share with millions of readers her very complicated and controversial perspectives and opinions. In this post, she talks about why she so openly shares.
So what I’m telling you here is that I’m scared of secrets. I’m more scared of keeping things a secret than I am of letting people know that I’m having trouble. People can’t believe how I’m willing to write about my life here. But what I can’t believe is how much better my life could have been if it had not been full of secrets.
So today, when I have a natural instinct to keep something a secret, I think to myself, ‘Why? Why don’t I want people to know?’ Because if I am living an honest life, and my eyes are open, and I’m trying my hardest to be good and kind, then anything I’m doing is fine to tell people.
That’s why I can write about what I write about on this blog.
And when you think you cannot tell someone something about yourself, ask yourself, ‘Really, why not?’
No, I do not often like what Ms. Trunk has to say, as I generally do not agree with it. However, I do respect the chutzpah it takes to do so and appreciate the forum it creates whereby these issues can be presented as conversation. It creates a necessary dialogue. So, keep annoying me Ms. Trunk. Sincerely.
Here is an article where 26 Women Share Their Abortion Stories. Is this vain? Exploitative? Many TED Talks are centered around the sharing of personal stories. Are these individuals narcissists? Possibly. I don’t know them individually to really make that determination, but at the end of the day I don’t really care either. Ingesting these stories makes me a better person. It’s helping someone, even if only the one doing the talking. But I bet there is at least one human life that has been touched by each of the millions of people sharing their stories online.
And that, my friends, makes it worth it. It’s good to be back!
[featured image source]