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Daring Greatly

It takes courage, and vulnerability, to “dare greatly.” For this week’s inspiration, explore the significance of sincerity, vulnerability, and courage in your writing.

Recently, I started reading Daring Greatly by the shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown. In her book, Brown explores what it means to be vulnerable, its significance in our lives as human beings seeking connection with others, and how to overcome the shame we often feel around vulnerability.

Her insight is particularly interesting in the context of writing where our work, by nature, is a catalogue of our vulnerabilities. From the historical novelist to the comedic blogger, writing explores the vulnerability of human nature and turns it into something relatable to read.

Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.
– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

As Brown says in her quote above, to be vulnerable is to feel. When we open ourselves up to emotion, we accept that we cannot control what happens next while choosing to honor what we feel in each moment. Often it’s an emotion that prompts the writing of a poem, a short story, or an exploration of a specific memory as a child. As we share those emotions, whether we’re writing in the first person or through a character, we expose our innermost thoughts.

To write honestly and sincerely, and to then hand our work over to the faceless crowd of the internet, can be scary. It can also be extremely rewarding, as Michelle reminded us in her “Roundtable: The Scariest Post I Ever Published”.

As you approach your writing this week, take Brown’s quote to heart. What is vulnerability to you and how does it influence your writing? When you write, where do the words come from and how do you know if they’re true? Take the time to explore the nugget of truth, the sincerest version of you in your writing by asking, “Is this real for me? Is this my truth?”

  • If there’s a post you’ve been sitting on, but are afraid to share, consider revisiting the why: why that post is important to you, and why you’re scared.
  • If you read a post that took considerable courage to share, or simply spoke to you on a deep, human level, reach out to the author and let them know.

When we congratulate openness in others’ writing, we create a community in which we can all share our truest stories with one another.

If you’re interested in more of Brown’s work, check out her TED Talk below.

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  1. It’s hard to write without abandon. One must throw themselves in completely or not do it all. To care what people think about you opens up a box of criticisms that’s hard to shut. My creativity is constantly stifled by this so my writing becomes watered down. Thanks for the great post!

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  2. I have watched Brene Brown’s TED talk several times in the past. I think she’s a great speaker and I found her talk inspiring. I also found your post inspiring too. You’re right. Writing makes us vulnerable but I believe that’s what makes it worth doing. Yes it’s scary but it’s exhilarating too. Thanks for this excellent and wise post.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This post really spoke to me. i recently wrote about being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which comes with a whole host of unappealing symptoms and can dramatically affect fertility. I’d started writing about it a long time ago – long before this blog! – but wasn’t able to finish anything I started. I think it’s because it’s something that I rarely let myself think about, let alone share/discuss with others?

    One night a few weeks ago I decided to just sit down and pour everything out; it was a kind of stream of consciousness at the begininng. Once I crafted it into a post and pressed ‘Publish’, I just felt like a weight had been lifted! Even though I didn’t know if anyone would ever actually read it, it made me feel better that I had just made myself think about the subject and articulate my feelings. Writing should push you, breaking through fear often produces the most beautiful work.

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      1. Anyone can perform, if you can’t take away the performing part then you are just not able to live a real life. Congratulations for having attained that feat 🙂

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      2. not everyone can perform. Or else more people would be doing it. This goes back to exposing our own vulnerabilities in a bigger way than the average person walking down the street. Talk to people, and ask them about public speaking. How many people shy from that and why? Because they do not like that feeling of being vulnerable. I think back to college and on the days that people would have to present their final projects, and how upset people would get. And those people would far outnumber the people who were able to face it without crumbling into a quivering mass of flesh in the corner.
        You should do an informal interview of 100 people and seriously ask them about public speaking, or creating a dance, or write a poem to read in front of 100 strangers.
        Performing is not easy, and as stated above, not everyone can.

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  4. This is great! I’m experiencing this new sense of vulnerability right now as I just publicized my first personal blog regarding my experience with shame. I’m still scared but hoping it gets easier. Thanks!

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  5. This is for me…
    (I am going to watch her vids now, thank you many times for sharing this post. Just two days ado I wrote something on vulnerability and accepting to be open, though of course I didn’t share that either… But, I am going to check her work. Thanks! <3)

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  6. I’ve been struggling to decide what being vulnerable means to me. I show a lot more of myself to the world through my blog; that’s probably why I haven’t openly shared my blog with friends or family — I’m scared that they won’t like it, and thus, won’t like me. But I believe it’s now time to revisit the idea of coming out to my friends about my internet life.

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  7. It was with this sentiment that I began my blog. With the hope that through sharing my experiences, however uncomfortable, some light may be shed on why we are who we are, and why we become who we become. Excellent Post.

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  8. This was a great prompt. I agree that, to some extent, writers must tap into their vulnerability in order to write honestly and sincerely. My own blogging experience has shown me that I am most proud of the pieces that hurt the most to write, regardless of the popularity of any given piece with my audience.

    I recently wrote about a person from my past that I hadn’t thought of in years, my mother’s ex-boyfriend, and tapped into that vulnerability. It was incredibly therapeutic to discuss how his behavior affected our entire family. It was such a deep seated pain that I never really talk about it.

    I lived with someone who led a secret double life for nearly a decade and almost no one but me knew about it. Being able to finally articulate that story has meant everything to me and I think that the piece itself really benefited from the depth of emotion that I had to tap into in order to write it.

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing. “They believe what made them vunerable, made them beautiful.” (TED Talk) How true. I found this to be the case when I vlogged my journey through non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was raw and real and beautiful being that open with people. But it was terrrifying too. Still I had the “courage” to tell the story of who I am with my whole whole heart. I will try to remember these lessons when I write.

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  10. This is very inspiring, i must confess that i am yet to read her boook. Truely it takes a lot of Courage to create something for the publics. This is what i have been struggling with for years . I have quiet a number of Poems ,i am at the Moment writing my girlfriends biography art-unleashed , this is encouraging for me, Thanks .

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  11. I recently attended some transnational training, which set me on my path to be a transnational life coach, one of my BIGGEST breakthroughs was the first time I was able to be vulnerable in front of a group of people. For me, the previous worldview was that vulnerability was a weakness. Until that is, I recognized the real power vulnerability first hand. When a single person can capture the attention of everyone in the room in such a way that they are moved and inspired by that persons courage to let them see that deeper, authentic self, that is POWER! This post is spot on!

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    1. I’m glad to hear you liked it! I had a good friend introduce Brown to me a year ago, and just sent her a thank you letter for showing me her work – so good 🙂

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