The Ugly Truth
We are all broken
Our online world is filled with photoshopped avatars, self-serving social media updates, and perfectly timed press releases that are often far more myth than reality.
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly something to be said for putting your best foot forward, but there is also something to be said for revealing your flaws, fears, and doubts in order to make a meaningful connection with someone else.
In today’s celebrity obsessed world of unreality and Facebook envy, many of us feel more alone and isolated than ever.
Each of us has our own unique set of insecurities and doubts. As creative artists, we always seem to walk that fine line between sharing an emotional connection and potentially freaking people out with our weirdness.
So many of us do whatever we can to not expose these fears and insecurities to others. Instead, we simply bury them, ignore them, and hope they will never be discovered.
However, there can also be great beauty in sharing the ugly truth.
The power of (our) story
As creative artists, we have the ability to emotionally connect with our audience through our stories.
One of the things I’ve always tried to do on this site is to share with our readers my own sense of doubt and vulnerability. Whether it’s me talking about my jealousy and envy of every other writer online, or my fear of failure and not being taken seriously, I have always found some comfort just knowing that I am not the only one out there who feels this way.
It’s hard enough to be a creative artist without always thinking that everyone else in the world has their act together while we continue to fumble about in our own cesspool of fears and insecurities. This is why it’s not surprising that almost 1 in 10 creative artists has reported having dealt with an episode of major depression in the previous year.
We all have stories to share, and unfortunately, not all of them are always flattering to our ego. It often takes that emotional vulnerability and willingness to open ourselves up in order to make that emotional connection with our readers.
If you read the biographies of successful artists, musicians, and writers in the past, you’ll often see a recurring pattern of depression and self-doubt. Creative artists such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jackson Pollock, Joan Miro, Gustav Mahler, Beyoncé Knowles, John Keats, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Paul Gauguin, William Faulkner, Edgar Degas, Leonard Cohen, and Agatha Christie to name just a few.
Sometimes we forget that behind all of these extraordinary novels, paintings, and symphonies, there was a flawed human being who, like the rest of us, was often filled with fear and self-doubt.
Not surprisingly, many of my favorite artists and writers online today like Allie Brosh, Ellen Forney, Jenny Lawson, and David Sandum have made a connection because they were willing to drop their perfect social media facade and expose their vulnerabilities to their readers.
I don’t necessarily need to read another “how-to” article online, but I almost always can use the reassurance that comes from reading about the struggles other writers have had to deal with along the way.
As creative artists, most of us have enough issues without having to think that everyone else’s life is completely awesome and going according to plan. And although it takes courage to share your flaws and insecurities online, it can also humanize you and allow you to create a more meaningful connection with your audience.
Finally, I wanted to share with you something that author and blogger Danielle LaPorte said about the value of authenticity in her remarkable little book “The Fire Starter Sessions”:
“When being real is your priority, the various parts of your life start to groove. Your career will begin to reflect your true passion…your friends will fit your soul; and your wealth–of which there are many definitions–will start to measure up with your notion of freedom…Being genuine is the foundation of integrity–often inconvenient and not always painless–but the only way to go if you’re here to really, truly, fully live.”
What type of stories are you sharing online?
About the Author
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book "Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work" is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.