Yesterday, I sat in the waiting room at my doctor's office—don't worry, guys, everything's okay, but my injured tendon and I are living proof that running is terrible for you and should be avoided at all costs—when I heard a little beep come from my phone.
Looking down, I noticed that I had an e-mail from a producer at the online magazine Thought Catalog (if you haven't visited their site before, please do. There is a plethora of wonderful content hidden in their pages). I grinned when I read that my submitted article had been accepted and was live on their site.
Immediately, I rushed to the website and experienced two conflicting, strong emotions: intense, ohmygodisthisreallyhappening excitement and an overwhelming, unwelcome fear.
What if their readers didn't like it? What if my own readers didn't like it? WHAT IF SOMEONE FOUND A TYPO? (Truth of Life: It doesn't matter that my official job title is Editor and I correct grammar for a living—I'm not perfect and, yes, sometimes there are typos in my pieces.) In my head, these were all practical and imminent scenarios.
And in my flurry of elation and anxiety, I had a thought.
Vulnerability is terrifying.
Submitting my article made me shake with nervousness. Seeing it live on the website did the same. After posting every blog entry, the same thoughts run through my head: Did I stay true to myself? Will my readers like it? Do I like it? What if nobody reads it?
We as living, breathing humans experience this every single day.
Putting yourself in a position for critique can be so difficult, no matter the situation. It's hard to stand on a pedestal and say, "Here I am, world, do what you will!"
But, guys, it's so worth it.
Without positive feedback from others, we would lose a source of many warm/fuzzy feelings: love, acceptance, appreciation. And without honest, constructive criticism, it sure would be difficult to make ourselves better people.
Opening yourself up is the only way to grasp what you're capable of. A flower that never blooms is stuck in the ground forever.
Learning to make yourself vulnerable, and especially embracing the potential benefits of that vulnerability, is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Learn to love the chilling, soul-shaking quiver of knowing that you could mess up, that you could be wrong. And even better, learn to crave the incredible feeling of knowing that you've done well, that your hard work and presence are important.
So what do you say? Tell that person you love them. Submit the big, important project you've spent months working on with your head held high. Invite someone into your emotional space that's never been there before. Do that thing you love, opinions be damned.
Close your eyes, open your arms to the sky, and jump. I promise you won't regret it.
Writer, editor, and storyteller living in the Twin Cities.