Blogging and Vulnerability

Here, enjoy a not-at-all relevant picture of some yarn I spun on my spindle. Woo hoo!

I’ve been doing my once a week blog postings for over a year now. I’m starting to notice that even though I’m in a tiny little barely-noticed corner of the internet, blogging once a week is having an impact on my life.

I do want to be noticed. I have a fantasy that someday my blog will have lots of readers because I’ll be saying things that resonate with people, or help them, or that they simply enjoy reading. So I think about this, and what I want to say, and how I can make my blog enjoyable and accessible and the kind of thing that people will share with their friends, who will share with their friends, and so on and so forth. Which means a lot of looking at the bloggers who have managed that and what I can learn from them.

Some of it is simple things, like making sure my posts have a picture so there is something to look at besides words. I know I like it when blog posts have pictures, and I doubt I’m unique in that, so I spend lots of time looking through various creative commons licensed pictures trying to find ones that fit my posts. I don’t always succeed, but it’s nice when I do.

I’ve also noticed that successful bloggers – or at least, the bloggers that I most enjoy reading (or watching if they do video blogging), really put themselves into what they are saying. They get up in front of the whole internet and proceed to be honest, sometimes downright vulnerable. How scary that must be! But in doing so they come across as genuine and real, so when they say something I find myself wanting to listen.

So I wonder if or how I should emulate that.

And then I watch a video about closeness and vulnerability and feeling worthy. In the video, Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, talks about how she decided to sit down and figure out the hows and whys of people feeling loved and like they belonged. Her conclusion? That those who feel that way believe they deserve to feel that way, and they treat vulnerability as simply how that happens, rather than as something terrifying to be avoided. And I watch that video and I don’t want it to apply to me. I tell myself that it’s for neurotypicals and I’m on the autism spectrum and things are different for me.

Yeah, that’s a bunch of bull.

Not that things aren’t different for me, because they are. But the fundamental laws about how closeness functions and how we get there still apply to me, because they apply to everybody. And then I wind up thinking about how much I avoid vulnerability, or I dole it out in carefully controlled amounts because I don’t want to deal with the uncertainty of how people will respond. I fear that the response will hurt, and I fear that I deserve that hurt because of how different and weird and often clueless I am. I tell myself (or worry or fear) that people don’t actually want to see that vulnerable side of me so it’s best for everyone if I keep it hidden away, and in so doing I make it that much harder to form those close, intimate connections that I crave so much.

So I write, because ultimately I am trying to be a blogger and writing is how that gets done. I have to write and keep writing. It means writing when I’m inspired to write and writing when I’m NOT inspired to write but if I’m going to have something ready in time I’d better get typing. Plus I think better when I write and I like to write and my brain sorts itself out in writing in different and better ways than in other types of thinking, so blogging gives me more push to do a thing that I really should be doing anyway. It gives me structure and a goal and a public voice, and it makes me think about things that maybe I wouldn’t otherwise think about, and makes it harder to dismiss things that maybe I would have otherwise dismissed because they are uncomfortable.

And because it’s a blog, once in a while I post what I write so that anyone who stumbles across my little corner of the internet can see some little glimpse of me, and I can hope that they got something out of it.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Blogging and Vulnerability

  1. Hi. I have been following your blog for a while and find it very insightful and well written, I am always very happy to see a new post by you pop up in my Google or WordPress Reader because they always leave me more empowered with words, better able to capture and express a subtle aspect of life. That’s a quality experience, although I know my visit counts for only 1 hit in the blog statistics:-)

  2. I know I like it when blog posts have pictures, and I doubt I’m unique in that, so I spend lots of time looking through various creative commons licensed pictures trying to find ones that fit my posts

    Do you know MorgueFile? It is a big online community archive of photos that are free for derivative works. This means you can use all the photos for free from the ‘free’ archives, if alter them in Photoshop or other photo editing software to create your own illustrations.

    You can also just pick up the html code to use on your blog ‘as is’, but in that case you need to credit the photographer under the photo and, in principle, ask the photographer first.

    Where do you find free photos (of good quality) to use in blog posts?

    • I do not know about MorgueFile, I shall make a point to check it out sometime. Thank you for telling me about it!

      I typically look for pictures via DeviantArt’s stock images, pictures on flickr that people have licensed as creative commons, or do a search for creative commons pictures via google. It’s kind of a toss-up as to which one will provide me with a decent picture based on whatever key words I’m using.

      Also, re. your previous post, thank you! I’m so glad you like my blog!

      • I love to dive into Morguefile. I find it inspiring to just browse through the free photos displayed as default on the front page. There are many good, and they are big and high res because they are meant to be for derivative work.

        Do you have a pen name? (or any name you like to use online). This post inspired me to write a post about a related topic. Not to say I’ll ever complete it (not my strong side;-( but if I do, then it is nice to have a name to quote because there are so many blogs named something with aspergers, aspie et.c. and it sounds awkward to quote a long impersonal blog name rather than a person’s name.

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  4. “I do want to be noticed. I have a fantasy that someday my blog will have lots of readers because I’ll be saying things that resonate with people, or help them, or that they simply enjoy reading.”

    Thanks for saying that “out loud” – for me it’s certainly a big part of my motivation for blogging, but one I’m often afraid to give myself permission to take seriously. I mean, whenever I catch myself thinking about how nice it would be if a blog entry I’m working on were noticed and people expressed interest or appreciation for it or said they found it thought provoking or learned something they didn’t already know, I start trying to talk myself out of that attitude. As if I really need to keep reminding myself that it’s a bad idea to worry too much about how many people are reading, or to feel invisible just because your blog isn’t attracting a “relatively large” following compared to other blogs, because if it becomes a competition anxiety the idea of being in a competition will distract from the rest of the reasons for blogging.

    But wanting to resonate with people, and help them, isn’t an unhealthy or grandiose thing to fantasize about at all. If you write without wanting people to enjoy reading your writing, why bother sharing it at all? So I think I need to lighten up about this sort of “am I attention-seeking and is it okay?” self-consciousness as a blogger. It’s also part of the reason I prefer to write in an informative or discursive style and rarely write in a personal, informal and autobiographical style.

    I really like what you shared about the video on vulnerability as a non-threatening means to a desirable end instead of a risk to be avoided. One thing I learned from a book on theater (I’m not an actress at all but a huge screen acting fan), is that part of the discipline in acting is to embrace even the kinds of vulnerability that feel punishing, as a growth experience that expands your knowledge of the human condition as an artist. I think that’s a nice alternative to trying to find a more pragmatic silver lining to painful experiences – instead of telling yourself it will all turn out for the best in the end, you can see it as a way of growing as an artist and an observer of both the good and the bad in life.

    This excerpt from the book I’m thinking of is one I’ve shared on my blog before, describing something called “the Dionysus game” that actors in a ritualistic play inspired by Greek tragedy used to prepare for their performance.

    “A question or statement is made which, according to the rules of the exercise, must ‘cost something’. An answer is given that is equally revealing or difficult.” After everyone has contributed at least once, the actors turn on a sacrificial victim, who “had to answer the questions, but could not ask any.” This final interrogation would continue until the victim has to admit he can’t continue – when his “opacity [is] sufficiently pierced” he then says, “This is mortifying.” The exercise ends.

    One of the performers in this production said of his role, “I am not interested in acting. I am involved in the life process of becoming whole. I do many technical exercises which organically suit the process. They act as a catalyst for my ability to let essence flow, to let my soul speak through my mind and body … Dionysus is my ritual.”

    – from Theater, sacrifice, ritual: exploring forms of political theater

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