TED Talks: The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

I had a long talk with Katie yesterday about the writing process and the elusive struggle to align the cross hairs that make a blog post effective, meaningful and worthwhile. Writing is much more than putting something down on paper. Let me rephrase, good writing is much more than putting something down on paper. It’s hard work. My best blog posts exhaust my mind and leave me feeling like I couldn’t possibly etch out one more sentence. Afterward, there’s always the juxtaposition of reading what I’ve written and knowing I could have made it a lot more four-dimensional, tangible, relatable, fluid, more everything.

Throughout the conversation, Katie spelled out so much of what I was thinking but could never truly capture. She defined some things about myself I couldn’t define on my own. She inspired me with her words and affirmations and parted the clouds that often lingered over my head. She asked questions I wouldn’t have thought to ask myself and brought a much needed sense of clarity to the vague areas of my thoughts, ideas, dreams, and desires. It was one of those magical conversations where every bulb in the house turns on, causing ambiguity to become a lot more theoretical and clarity to increase ten-fold.

I won’t get into the details here (that’s for another blog post), but a large part of my struggle has been to wake up every day and make the decision to be honest, truthful, and vulnerable. Not that I haven’t been, I certainly have. But rather, the decision to take it deeper, to further explore what makes my story relatable to yours, to be even more purposeful in my posts, and to be less Jackson Pollock and more Leonardo da Vinci with the details of grit and circumstance.

When I started writing, I wanted to take one dense idea and uncover it, layer by layer. I wanted to write what others thought, but couldn’t say. I wanted to wrap said thoughts and ideas in allegory, to make them relatable enough to see the truth through millions of competing falsities. Throughout the process of waking up every single day to write, so many other influences came into play, all of which reside in a pit of emotions people attempt to avoid altogether. For my words to have meaning, I knew I had to explore the depths of fear, vulnerability and insecurity. I knew if I didn’t, I would have done everyone reading this blog a disservice. If I couldn’t be honest with myself, how in the world would I muster a fake resolution to be honest with the reader? It may have worked for some, but in the end my whole blog would have been built on a premise of dishonesty.I couldn’t live with that.

After exploring the “why” in everything, I still struggled with the idea that what I’ve done here is beneficial. It’s one thing for somebody to tell me it’s good, it’s completely different to consider the impact, or lack thereof, a really difficult expression of honesty has made on the life of another. I could accept and show gratitude (in a sheepish of way) for someone thinking my blog is written well, but I couldn’t reconcile the thought of how my story might be influential. Because of that, I began to wonder why sharing my experiences mattered. Katie then said, “Justin, you could be sitting in an interview, after authoring five or six books, and be asked the same question of why your writing is influential and you’ll still say you don’t think it is.” Like usual, she was right.

This morning, I saw this video on John Acuff’s blog. Once again, my purpose for this blog was reaffirmed. Although I believe in the deeper, formulated way we were engineered and created by God, I found the human side of this video fascinating. What I had processed over and over again was finally presented in a TED talk, in an intelligent, researched method. In my blog, I’ve attempted to create a dumbed-down version of my own analytical thoughts and ruminations I’ve had throughout my journey with cancer. It just seems like time and time again, I come back to the same points, the same ideas and try to spell it out in a different way. And it’s never been good enough for me. I feel like I can always do it better than the first. In other words, what you’re seeing on my blog is growth, clarity, understanding, and exploration.

To wrap this up, I just want to share that what I write is as honest as that moment. Sometimes the moment isn’t as honest as I’d like it to be, but at the very least I write with vulnerability and conviction. If I were to never explore those areas of my life, I wouldn’t really have any idea of who I was or what I truly believed. This video is all about the process. I was truly inspired by it. It vindicated all that I’ve been feeling and has encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing. I know it’s a lot to ask that you sit down in front of your computer for this twenty minute long talk about vulnerability, but it might go straight to your heart and change your perspective entirely. As for me, I’ll watch it five, six, seven times to truly grasp the density of a topic nobody ever discusses.

As always, thank your for reading. I do this for you; to inspire, encourage, promote growth and love, the things you can’t buy at your local Walgreen’s or CVS.

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