Why I Like Vulnerable Writing | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

Why I Like Vulnerable Writing

In a few months, I’m starting a graduate program in psychology.  I’m thrilled that this is finally coming together, and that I’m going to build new skills that will help me do my work.

When I considered writing about this, I noticed both a desire to share my excitement with the world, and a bit of anxiety about announcing my plans.

This didn’t make sense at first.  Why would I feel reluctant to tell people about big news in my life?

After a little pondering, the reason became clear.  If I told you I’m going to grad school, wouldn’t I be admitting that I still have more to learn?  That I don’t “have all the answers”?  And if I don’t have all the answers, why should people want to read what I write about personal development?

Do You Like “Answers” or Authenticity?

But then, a question occurred to me:   what kind of writing do I like to read?  Do I like articles that give me a list of 100 things I should do to succeed, be happy, or something else?  Or do I prefer writers who are willing to let down their guard with me, and tell me what’s really going on with them?

It didn’t take a lot of reflection to answer this one.  When another human being lets me really see them, in all their perfect imperfection, that’s a greater gift to me than all the “tips and tricks” out there put together.

And doesn’t it stand to reason, I thought, that if I like honest, vulnerable writing, other people might appreciate that too?  I mean, I’m an unusual guy and all, but doesn’t it make sense that you and I might share some of the same tastes?

Giving Ourselves Permission To Be Human

At a deeper level, I’ve found that, when someone genuinely shares with me — particularly if what they share involves a “negative emotion,” an insecurity, or something like that — that actually helps me do my own “inner work.”

This is because, when they tell me about one of their foibles, quirks, or hangups, I feel a sense of permission to have my own hangups as well.  I feel my own worries about looking imperfect melting away, and more compassion for myself and others.

This is why, recently, I’ve tended toward exploring issues that feel embarrassing or difficult in my writing.  I’ve been doing this in the hope that, the more of my own truth I share, the more others will start feeling free to share their truth.  (Not that I find going to grad school embarrassing — I think it’s pretty cool.)

The View From The High Horse

In keeping with this theme of honesty, I’m going to mount my high horse for a moment, and say I’d like to see the self-development blogosphere move in this direction too.  I think we could all stand to give each other a little less advice, and offer a bit more of our personal experience.  Nobody’s really “got all the answers,” and it would be a relief, at least for me, if we could just admit that to ourselves and each other.

Anyway, this has been my long-winded way of breaking the news that I’m going to grad school.  :)  I’m looking forward to more learning and growth, and to contributing to others’ growth in whatever ways I can.

11 thoughts on
Why I Like Vulnerable Writing

  1. Evan

    Hi Chris, would you like to tell us what type of psych you’ll be studying?

    I too would love to see the self development blogosphere move in the direction of sharing our vulnerabilities and struggles and so on. Not that I find this all that easy to do.

    I have found that the people I learn from are those who write close to their experience rather than those who sell a formula that has it all wrapped up and tied with a bow.

  2. Angela Artemis

    Chris,
    Congratulations!!! That’s awesome. I went to grad school when I was 39. At first I felt funny about telling people I was back in school. I got over it though. I’m so excited for you. I loved being back in school. I dream about being in school because I wasn’t able to finish my MA. It was the most wonderful time in my life though. Enjoy it.

    Where are you going to be going to school?

  3. Sara

    Chris,

    Congratulations on going to grad school. This is such a good idea for you!!! I imagine you’re going to be very busy for awhile, but it will a good thing:~)

    Regarding your comment about sharing more and telling less, I agree. When I first started blogging, I wrote some “how you can improve your life” posts, but they never worked for me unless I shared the reason I wrote one. Usually they got written because I’d already tumbled into the manhole and struggled to find the way out.

    I don’t visit very many self-improvement blogs that say they have THE ANSWER. No one has exactly the right answer for me. They might point me in the right direction, but it’s up to me to walk the walk.

    I wish you success in your studies. Do keep us posted about how things are going when you can:~)

  4. Justin | Mazzastick

    Hi Chris,
    I like what you had to say here. I think the reason that a lot of personal development bloggers try to be an authority in their niche is in order to sell products. I can tell you now that I am not perfect and never will be. Personal development is about tools to help us with our short comings not to eliminate them.

    I am also weary of people who always try to put on a I am always in control face. My wife and I went to the car dealership yesterday and to say the least I was initially stressed and was rude to the car salesman but later re-adjusted my attitude.

  5. Evita

    Hi Chris

    Congrats – I know this journey will be very rewarding for you on many different levels.

    And authenticity is an amazing quality that I think we all need to take seriously, as we continue to move into a new way of life on this Earth.

  6. Chris - Post author

    Hi Evan — I’ll be studying transpersonal psychology — but then again, you can all learn more about it in my upcoming interview with Evan! (And we didn’t even set that up!) Writing close to my experience is definitely something I strive for and resonate with as well.

  7. Chris - Post author

    Hi Angela — thanks, I appreciated that share — I definitely felt my own apprehension about talking about it fading away after I posted this, and heard about the experiences of people like you.

  8. Chris - Post author

    Hi Sara — yes, I’m sure I’ll be busy, but I’ve found that I can fit whatever I want into my life as long as the desire is there, so I’m definitely going to keep writing here and elsewhere.

    I like what you said about sharing the reason why you’re writing a self-improvement style post — that’s where the connection is for me with self-development writers, when they share what makes the subject they’re writing about important to them — the list of all the things I should do, next to that, is window dressing for me.

  9. Chris - Post author

    Hi Justin — good to meet you. Yes, that makes sense to me, that people would feel pressured to take an advice-giving approach to writing, without revealing their own vulnerabilities, because that might detract from their authority. To me, when someone speaks to me solely from that parental place, telling me what I should do without sharing themselves, I tend to feel angry, and if anything I want to do the opposite of what they say. :) It sounds like you have the same experience when you meet someone who seems to you like they want to be in control.

  10. Chris - Post author

    Hi Evita — yes, I like what you say about authenticity — I think a more open style of communication with each other can really move us as human beings in the direction of both humility and wonder at the truth of what we are.

  11. Stacey Shipman

    Hi Chris, Congratulations! What exciting news and a big step. As for writing, sometimes pouring myself into a post is harder than I think – like you, I “worry” about what others might think. The truth is, that’s what I’m an expert in – my own life! I always shied away from the word “expert” and I more often considered myself a “guide” – sharing information and strategies that you may or may not choose to use. But if at the very least the information inspires you to some action, then I’ve done my job. Those posts I write about my experiences, are more from the heart, and I receive more emails and comments on.

    Again, best of luck!

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