When I finally felt ready to blog again, I knew that this time, I wanted to create and share content that was out of my comfort zone. I wanted to tell my stories – like I had been for the past two years – but this time, remove the anonymity that had previously allowed me to feel safe and comfortable with sharing such intimate details about my life and my struggles.
In real life, I struggle immensely with vulnerability. My theory is that this struggle comes as a result of childhood trauma, and my social anxiety, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet, to be honest. Deciding to “remove the mask” of anonymity online was a huge challenge for me, as that would require getting comfortable with the uncomfortable by facing my fear of authentic vulnerability.
The cognitive dissonance that I experienced from portraying different versions of myself, online and in real life, became incredibly overwhelming for me to manage. This, obviously, was never my intention when I first started Twitter and blogging (authentically and anonymously) but unfortunately, it was the end result. The platforms that had once brought me a sense of belonging and connectedness, had overtime developed into a debilitating depression, excessive anxiety, isolation, and a full-blown identity crisis. Fortunately, over the past few months, I was able to accept that it would be necessary for me to be my authentic self in all areas of my life, so that I could become “unstuck” from my unhealthy mindset, and continue sharing my stories online again.
The biggest question(s) that I kept revisiting before creating this new blog were, “Would I be able to actually create authentic content once I expose my real self; or will I (intentionally or unintentionally) end up censoring myself and sharing a carefully crafted version of myself so that I feel less exposed – less vulnerable?” (Which I’m sure would only serve to create more cognitive dissonance if this was the case…) Once I honestly thought that I could be authentic and vulnerable (and feel confident with that decision) I created this blog.
I haven’t shared too much on here yet, but I think that from what I have shared so far, I am achieving what I’ve set out to achieve this time around – pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and embracing authentic vulnerability. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t feel incredibly anxious when I share a new blog post, but whenever I start to feel the anxiety rise, I remind myself as to why I am doing this in the first place. From there, I am able to acknowledge that this is scary for me because it is something that is new to me, and that my reaction is totally normal. I understand that it will take time for me to feel comfortable in this new chapter of my life; being just as real, open, and honest with everyone as I used to be when I was an anonymous entity.
I think my greatest fear about being authentic and vulnerable now, as a real person online, is that I am willingly opening myself up to judgment, criticism, and possible rejection. But, on the other hand, I am also opening myself up to forming real connections, a true sense of belonging, and a new type of understanding. I think that when you struggle with vulnerability as much as I do, it’s easy to default to portraying yourself to the world in a way that doesn’t always accurately reflect your authentic reality. It is much easier to censor ourselves and paint a nicer picture, so that we feel that the stories we share are relatable, while also being digestible for others to consume.
As my story continues to unfold, I am going to continue to make sure that I am only sharing an honest depiction of my life and experiences with you all – regardless of how terrifying that feels to me! I am not going to sugarcoat, or manipulate my experiences through my storytelling, just to make myself feel more comfortable and less vulnerable because I think that would be doing a great disservice to myself and to anyone who follows my journey.
A final thought, if anyone else has struggled with, or struggles with authentic vulnerability, please reach out to me on here, or on Twitter (@hellolinla) and let me know what has helped you overcome this struggle, or what coping skills you use to manage this struggle!
I appreciated your feedback in advance 🙂