What I've Learned About Being Vulnerable on Social Media
the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Growing up, I was involved in my local church and was always enamored by the concept of a “testimony”. The courage it took people to stand up in front of their peers and bust their heart open for others around them to see, completely enthralled and inspired me. (Don’t worry, this post isn’t about religion, just roll with me here ;) I remember noticing that I instantly felt more connected to the person speaking, and could see myself in their words, even if I didn’t have the same experiences or struggles as them. It fascinated me that when I learned something vulnerable about another human, I instantly felt more connected to them. In fact, I specifically remember thinking to myself that one day I wanted to have an opportunity to gift that same feeling to other people. Little did I know, something called social media would come around, and I’d be given the chance to bust my heart open for others to see at the click of a button.
If you read my last post on Pass/Fail, you’ll know that I went through a very unexpected divorce a few years ago. Once I got my head on straight, I began having all of these unlocks about myself. It was an amazingly expansive time for me, and I was absolutely bursting at the seams with personal learnings. I naturally wanted to grow those learnings by chatting about them with friends and family members, and then eventually I became drawn to the idea of sharing some thoughts on social media. I realized that what I loved so much about the nature of a “testimony” experience, was that it builds inclusivity and community. By sharing something vulnerable about yourself, it’s like saying, “Hey, I totally struggle with stuff, anyone else feel me?”
Over the years, I’ve learned so much through being vulnerable on social media. I’ve had low times where I’ve completely doubted myself and even my intentions, but I’ve also experienced times of pure joy and affirmation that I’m doing something that feels right in my gut. I’ve chosen to hang onto and bask in the joyful times, while of course learning from the low times, but letting them come and go naturally. Here are the main things I’ve learned along my path of vulnerability:
It doesn’t get “easier”, and there’s something really beautiful about that
It isn’t surprising that the button you push when you post something on Instagram says “Share”. At the end of the day, no matter what you’re posting on social media, you’re sharing a bit of yourself. Something you found funny, something that caught your eye that day, or something that bummed you out. So when you take social media to another level of vulnerability where you’re sharing your innermost thoughts, you can feel extra exposed and intimidated.
When I first began sharing vulnerable posts on social media, it was exhausting because I tend to be a perfectionist. I would literally have to hype myself up before finally tapping that small button on the screen, then would keep a watchful, self-protective eye as responses rolled in. Over time that’s died down a bit, because the fulfillment of speaking my truth and courageously sharing what’s been rolling around my brain always wins out. Practicing vulnerability has countered my beliefs that I have to be perfect.
Not everyone is going to like it, or feel comfortable with it
I’ve been very fortunate to have supportive friends and followers on my social media who are supportive of me sharing in a vulnerable and raw way, but it isn’t always the case. Earlier this year, I went through a challenging time when I learned some people in my life were uncomfortable with how vulnerable I am on social media. I quickly learned through this experience that many people use social media in a lighter way, and my more vulnerable style could potentially make them uncomfortable. This was tough to learn and stung at first, but ultimately was really great feedback for me to consider. It taught me a lesson that you aren’t always going to be everyone’s cup of tea, even on social media! As a perpetual people pleaser, this was a hard pill for me to swallow at first. But after I let it sink in for a while, I realized it’s valuable and important for me to be authentic and true to myself on social media.
It takes practice to connect to your higher purpose
I’m a big fan of Brene Brown and her thoughts on vulnerability. She has so many amazing things to say about the topic, but hands down, my biggest learning came from her session on the podcast ‘Magic Lessons’. She said, “The only stories I share with the public, in my writing or in my speaking, are stories I’ve really processed… and my healing is not contingent upon your opinion of those stories.”
Sharing in a vulnerable way, while also maintaining your higher purpose, takes real practice! I personally check myself frequently to make sure I’m not looking for affirmation, or seeking agreeable opinions of the way I feel. I ask myself, “Have I processed and healed from this to a level where I’m not seeking other people’s affirmation by sharing my thoughts?” If I hesitate at all on that, I pause on sharing.
The moments where you deeply connect with someone make it all worth it
My ultimate goal with being vulnerable on social media is to build community and inclusivity. Therefore, when I learn I’ve made someone feel less isolated or alone, it makes all the fear and worry 100% worth it. A few months ago I got on my Instagram story and talked a bit about a self help book I was reading, and some of the things I was learning about myself while reading it. (Anybody else a self help book junkie??) About a week after that post, a friend shared with me how much those few minutes inspired her, and how she bought the book the next day and started reading it. It completely warmed my heart and lit a fire of purpose within me.
For me, if I can use the power of my words to make even one person feel connected and inspired, I know I’m living my purpose. And that’s why I’ll take on the risk of being vulnerable on social media over and over again.
Chelsea Dunivan is an Office & Event Manager, plus a self care blogger on the side over at That Girl Chelsea. Chelsea is an introverted, old soul who is passionate about creating a balanced, holistic lifestyle full of self care, conscious living, and joy. She lives in a 1930s bungalow she calls “The Lavender House” in Austin, TX with her fluffy pup Banjo, supportive and tattoo covered boyfriend, and a trillion plants (#plantlady). You can find her strolling through the local farmers market, sweating it out on her mat or bike, stopping to pet your dog, laying out at Barton Springs, or popping open bottles of wine at home with friends and family.