finding the courage to be vulnerable.

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

“The thing that you’re most afraid of has already happened.”

So why have I been so scared to share my writing and this blog with the people in my world?

The worst that could happen is someone tells me my writing sucks, right? Welp, Dr. Hayes already did that 8 years ago and I still graduated. I still got into graduate school, finishing with just shy of a 4.0. And I still received so many compliments from others about my writing. But I'm still struggling to share. Why?

Ep. 208 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast with guests, Hope Hill and Martha Beck, sheds a little light on this. If you have time, I highly suggest listening to this episode. Especially if you’ve been struggling with the fear of putting yourself or your work out there. This conversation really spoke to me and it was exactly the push I needed to finally share this. This is the first post that I have gathered enough courage to share on social media outlets.

Up until this point I’ve been comfortable being vulnerable with strangers and letting them into my personal life, but not the people who know me (except for a select few). As I write that, I realize that’s kind of weird and wonder if I was day dreaming during my parent’s lectures about strangers. *Shrugs* Sorry Mom and Dad.

This isn't true vulnerability though because I'm still hiding. Hiding from people who knew the meek, quiet, moody me from high school, the awkward, lost me from college.... hiding from the people that don't know today's version of me. People like to hold you hostage to who you used to be, but I'm saying fuck that and doing like Alicia Keys (minus the makeup free part though, I don't drink enough water for that).

Fuck hiding and Fuck Dr. Hayes. This will not be my inner voice.

I've received nothing but positive feedback from those kind enough to offer their opinion. I really do wonder if they are being honest or just don’t want to hurt my feelings though. I value honest, timely,  and constructive feedback and believe it’s the single best thing for a person’s growth and development. So inside I’m begging them to tell me what’s wrong with a post so I know where I need to make improvements. But nope, nothing but positive remarks and “keep writing!”

So what the heck is wrong with me? In the podcast episode I mentioned, Liz Gilbert says that we are waiting for the one person that will tell us what our darkest inner voice is already telling ourselves which is, “You’re a failure. You’re a fraud. You don’t belong. You’re not worthy,” and some of us will not rest until we find the person that will say that. She says that when we find that person, we will believe her/him and stop doing whatever it is we're doing. Can I just take a second to stop and ask if this woman is inside my head?

Real talk....After my husband reads a post I ask for his feedback and when he compliments it, I follow him around the house and the conversation goes something like this...

“Are you sure?”

“Yes Kelli.”


“Yes I thought it was good. You're really starting to establish your voice.”

“You don’t have ANY feedback? You didn’t find anything wrong with it?”

“No. I enjoyed reading it.”

“Ok. Thanks.”

15 minutes later.... 

“You really think it was good?”

“YES Kelli. Keep writing.”

Little girl saying "You've got to believe in yourself."

I still have some doubt but I don’t want to annoy my husband so I leave it alone.

Clearly I still have quite a bit of healing to do. It’s also probably pretty clear why I don’t want to release this to everyone I know. Nobody likes getting rejected and I feel Hope Hill (podcast guest) when she says “If I never put myself in a position to be rejected, I can never be rejected.”

Liz Gilbert challenges this by telling her to write a list of every woman in her family history that never had a public voice. Liz admits that in her own family, it’s every single woman. She encourages Hope by telling her that she has generations of female family members and ancestors begging her to use her voice because they couldn’t, and to remain quiet would be a disservice to the pain and sacrifices they went through. And this is literally what I am supposed to do as a Social Worker – use my voice.

“To be criticized or rejected is the tax you pay for having a public voice.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

During their conversation she poses a question to Hope - "Who gets to decide if you're a poet?" I felt like she was speaking to me when she asked that question though, except the blank would have been filled with something else, "artist" maybe? Because I don't quite know how to label myself right now... artist encompasses so many different things and deep down I think it's what I've wanted to be and call myself for so long.

She says that if the "who" is someone other than yourself, then you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of suffering because your art will forever be dependent upon other people.

Deep Stuff. Deep Stuff.

So, it’s time to take Martha Beck’s advice and jump in the fire. She says, “Nothing is better material for your art than what happens when you jump in the flames and get burned....Go into a fire and if it scorches or consumes you utterly, you find a kindness so great it can encompass the burning and from that kindness it will start to ring to other people’s suffering. And that’s art.”

I don't know what the goal of my writing is yet, but I do know that I want to create a world where people feel comfortable being vulnerable, authentic, real, and unafraid to let the people around them know they don't quite have it all together. If I don't have the courage to share this with a larger audience, how can I expect or inspire others to do the same?

“Your courage of expression makes it easier for other people to find theirs.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

So many nuggets and inspirational messages in this podcast episode. Seriously, please go check it out. If it was powerful enough to get me to share this publicly, then I'm sure there's something in it for you too. Or, if it's not for you, but you know someone that may need to hear this message, please feel free to share it with them.


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