Friends. Seriously. I’m kind of half amazed and half fully in shock. Let me explain.
I really REALLY thought I was the kind of person that wasn’t afraid to put themselves out there.
Truly, in person, I’m an open book. If you ask me a question, I’ll give you an all-too honest, overly detailed answer. I don’t hold anything back. The things that have been hard in my life, the things that I have overcome or worked through, the things that others would be ashamed of, I’m not afraid to share those things.
Seriously, just ask my mom. 😉
I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s latest book Rising Strong and there are a few things about the way she talks about fear and vulnerability that really struck me.
The first is that when you’re going through something, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is to others, it’s all about your point of reference. Your perspective. What is impossible for one person, is a blink to another. And so on.
This rings true in discussions between my husband and I. When I’m stuck on something that happened – say, a miscommunication or misunderstanding or some event that made me feel hurt or wronged in some way – he’ll ask me why it matters so much. He doesn’t see the pain and is often genuinely confused. You see, he fully understands that hurt is generally unintentional, that people are only acting on their behalf (not in malice), and that in the case of conflict, the issues we take usually have more to do with ourselves than anyone else. And, as Brené Brown has learned through her research, people – for the most part – are truly doing their best (even when it seems like they’re not).
And the same is true in reverse. He gets stuck on things – events, subjects, that I have trouble even listening to. And I think – really, is that really something that needs your attention?
It’s usually around that moment when I feel the sudden pang of guilt that comes with recognizing that I’m in the reverse position of a situation that played out, in my favor, just days prior.
Anyway, when it comes to major life stress, I’ve done that work. I’ve been in the arena, as Brené says, and I’ve worked myself out of it. And when conflict comes again, I’ll be right back there. Working it out.
But creativity and sharing creative projects is a whole different thing. And that’s what the rest of this post is about.
I’ve introduced this topic a few times, and I’ll reference those recent posts as I go.
Creativity and Vulnerability
Last fall I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it changed me, as it has changed MANY creatives. I was also, coincidentally, reading and listening to interviews with Brené Brown while she was on her podcast publicity tour for Rising Strong. Brené talks about vulnerability. She talks about what it takes to be vulnerable and how hard, and uncomfortable, and necessary it is to be vulnerable in order to reach self acceptance.
Which is directly connected to what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about.
Elizabeth talks about how everyone is creative and how there are an astonishing number of people who once loved to draw, or paint, or make, and who have deep emotional scars that ended their creative journey. Sometimes for decades.
I have a story like that which I shared last year.
Now I’ve done some work on my emotional and creative self recently. And I’ve found that when different people from different backgrounds all give you the same or similar feedback, positive or negative, it is likely true. And the feedback I’ve heard recently is “you’re wonderful, but you don’t share enough of yourself.”
“Share ‘enough’ of myself?” What does that even mean?? Okay, weirdo hippie-yoga person. Go drink some kale juice and talk about raising your kids screen and sugar free.
I share personal stories in this space. And, in this space, I choose to be vulnerable. And that vulnerability, coupled with the long-hand format of blog posts, gives me the opportunity to dive into a subject. And I truly, truly value that. It’s why I love this space, and your eyes, so very much.
But when it comes to sharing things that I make – and, believe me, friend, I make A LOT OF THINGS – I never share them. Or I share them with one audience, once, and never talk or reference it again. Because it’s over. And it no longer matters. Move on, already.
Here’s an example. The average amount of posts that I added to my Instagram account last year was roughly 1 per day. Some days that meant 2, or occasionally 3, photos, and some days that meant none. Most of those photos are scrapbook, or planner, or related to some creative project. Most of my network is scrapbookers. Many of the posts that I add, especially Project Life posts, get lots of likes.
This year, and it’s nearly halfway through, I have shared 4 Project Life pages on Instagram. FOUR. Do you have any idea how many I’ve made?
I have made dozens, friend.
In fact, it’s only recently that I realized I hadn’t shared them here. And just the other day, I noticed that my two favorite memory keeping projects from last year, two traveler’s notebooks from last summer and a day in the life mini book that I’m obsessed with, both haven’t had so much of a mention on my blog.
And they are MY FAVORITE PROJECTS.
Tell me what sense that makes.
What is going on with me??? I spend the time to make the projects, I have a network of friends and fellow enthusiasts that love looking at each others’ work, that are supportive and interested and engaged, and I still don’t seem to share the things that I make. The things that I love. The things I put my soul into.
SHARE IT ALL.
So I’m making a point. Starting today, it gets shared. Everything. Even if that means that I share a picture on Instagram that I think is only going to get 1 like. Who cares. I don’t share things for likes, I don’t make things to get approval, I create because it’s my soul’s journey. Because it wakes me up. Because it makes me feel alive and I can’t get enough.
I share because I love sharing. And I love creating. And neither of those things change no matter how poorly I schedule my instagram posts. No matter how silly the quote, or how imperfect the editing on the photo, or how bad the light is.
You see, I’ve been telling myself “no” time and time again. I’ve been telling myself that my photos aren’t good enough, or that I’m going to ruin my Instagram feed, or that it’s not worth sharing, or that I’m not worth sharing, or that my work is not worth sharing.
And just in case I needed evidence to all of that being total crap, I shared a pair of pages from my Week in the Life album yesterday. I shared them after thinking “eh. they’re not good enough. no one will like them. I’ll probably lose followers.” But I needed content, the pages were available, and they were the next in line to share.
So I shared them.
And the picture got 96 likes.
Week in the Life | Sunday pages. I'm slowly but surely working through the setting up, editing, building, and stamping phases of these pages. It's funny, last year I had this project done almost the same day that it was happening. This year it's taking longer, but I'm fully committed to finishing. One day, one page, at a time. #WeekintheLife #juliesprojectlife | Supplies used: @aliedwardsdesigninc May messy circles, 2016 WITL cards, and AM/PM stamps and @beckyhigginsllc blush edition cards. #juliesweekinthelife
Elizabeth Gilbert would tell me that this is the trickster talking, telling me I’m not good enough, that my work isn’t good enough, and that it’s all pointless. The trickster can be loud. And overwhelming. And it can feel like the only voice in the room.
But when you look and listen and notice the real people around you, the ones that encourage you, and that like your work, and that want to see more and more of what you do, only then do you realize how wrong the trickster is.
And today, I listened to the people. To my friends. To my audience. And I shared. And I committed to sharing again. And again.
Because that’s what I’m meant to do. And that’s what I truly want to do. And it’s part of my path.
So stay tuned, friend, and let’s see where this wild journey of creativity and passion and sharing goes.
For more on this subject, check out this post on my 100 Day Project this year | Creativity and Routine and this post on Overcoming Fear and Pursuing a Creative Passion.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the source of this quote is unknown, but the hearts shown here are some of the MANY drafts I made trying to get to the Instagram-worthy one. Which I shared. And within 5 minutes it was re-grammed with no author credit. I took it as a compliment and stamped these. If you want to the original, for personal use only, sign up for my newsletter – a link to the originals will be on your confirmation screen.
And, just like that, I shared something that I made. And there is so much more to come.
If this sounds interesting to you, and if you want to learn more about inspiration, I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She also has a podcast called Magic Lessons and you can hear interviews with her on the subject of creativity at The Lively Show and The Good Life Project.
For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” This year is all about the wholehearted pursuit of MAGIC. And I can’t wait to see where it leads. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.