the power of “real”

Or, why Shift has necessarily evolved into a “personal blog.”

To write or not to write, that is the question.

Actually, no. That’s not the question. The answer is always, “Write.” There’s no point in asking questions you already know the answer to. (Unless, of course, you’re asking to reaffirm what you already know. In that case, by all means, ask the question . . . )

No, the question is: what to write about?

Soooo many things.

There are the controversial, disheartening topics, of course — the Cosby verdict, the Trump administration, the Waffle House shooting, the Kate Middleton vs. Meghan Markle comparisons . . . Or there is the avoidance of these subjects: the travel posts, the love poems, the movie reviews, the short fiction. There is a place for all of these, certainly, but lately it seems I’ve been trending towards my own life experience.

Why? Maybe because my life experience is the only thing I can claim to be an expert on. And, also, maybe because I’m tired of bullsh*t.

Interestingly, I didn’t start Shift with the term “personal blog” in mind. I started it to share stories from my time abroad. As time has gone on, however, I’ve realized: how can good writing be anything but personal? Everything we do is personal, and to deny the power of our experience is to negate our humanity and potency as people. There is power in vulnerability: vulnerability is the bridge to connection.

That said, vulnerability is also scary as sh*t.

brene-brown-quotesTake, for example, my last post. Do you think it was easy for me to admit that I didn’t receive an offer of funding the first time I applied to school? Hell no! It was embarrassing and made me feel “less than.” But I thought it was worth sharing because, well, what’s the value of a goal if it’s not worth fighting for?

In fact, the more terrified I am after I post something, the better my writing usually is, and the better my post is received. I find this telling. Readers can sense pretense and appreciate authenticity. At least I know I do . . . I also get tired of reading articles about things I should and shouldn’t be doing or concepts that are plain common sense. Give me something real, people. Don’t give me guilt trips.

Of course, this world is a scary place, and I would never “bare all” on my blog. Oversharing does not equal vulnerability, and there are obvious lines that should not be crossed. But the walls we build and the facades we live behind are toxic to ourselves and our fellow humanity. I have never felt better than, when admitting something I’ve struggled with on my blog, I’ve managed to touch someone else.

It makes me feel less alone.


Note: In trying to uncover images to accompany this post, I’ve found quite a few quotes from researcher Brené Brown and others that resonate with me. I’m sharing them here for your perusal.



All images courtesy of the world wide web. Featured image by Olivier Tallec from Louis I, King of the Sheep.


10 thoughts

  1. I agree. Part of blogging, part of writing, is exposing a piece of yourself. Years ago, a co-worker read some of my short stories and told me that she felt like she was seeing an internal piece of me she wouldn’t see without those stories. There’s truth to that, but the fictional stories I am proudest of are the ones where I think I am almost invisible in.

    And then there is blogging. It all depends on what purpose you set for your blog. But, almost any topic is going to lead to a blogger revealing some inner truths about themselves. Even if the blog is devoted to food and recipes, there are still stories to be told in sharing favorite foods, aren’t there?

    I was having a conversation with my mom a week ago in which she expressed concern about what I write on my blog. She’s never read it. She has never used a computer. She is also an extremely private person. A few weeks back, I wrote about my first trip to a psychic (I’m a total skeptic on these things and went just for the fun of it). The first card she turned over meant that I am content in all aspects of my life. It was all I could do not to laugh, but when she asked me what I thought of that first card, I told her, “You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not content in anything. Work. Family. Nothing.” And I wrote that in my blog.

    Well, my dad does read my blog. He does use computers. He told my mother about what I wrote and she thought I was revealing just way too much about my life with that one statement “I’m not content in anything.” People will read it and that’s not good. And here’s the thing — there are certain things I can’t blog about and I don’t. Two of those things are — work and the inner workings of my family dynamic. I may make vague references to them — like my comment to the psychic — but I never go any further. Because, well, I just can’t go there.

    Although the day after I retire, may be a banner day for what I write about work and my job and what I have endured over the last 20 years in my professional space.

    What I like about your blog the most these days is that when I read your posts we could be sitting over a beer and talking about what you’re writing and the conversation could go on for hours. Those are the types of posts I love when it comes to the blogs I read. They invite thought and a desire for more. So, keep it up.

    (By the way — I know I promised you some links for other writer/bloggers, but what are you interested in. Bloggers who just write great pieces on their blogs. Bloggers who are pursuing fiction and publishing efforts. Bloggers who are a mix of those things. All of the above.)

    • Yes, I’m sure we’d have a lot to talk about over beer if we could. And I agree that everything we write in any genre does say a lot about who we are. (I thought about that when I wrote the above, but decided to let it stand as it was. You got my point.) But yes . . . I rarely talk directly about heartbreak on my blog, for example, because it’s too personal. And I never know who will read what I write. The only way I ever could is if my blog were completely anonymous, which is hard to do, or if I wrote fiction or poetry. I will eventually get back to that. Lately I just haven’t had it in me.

      But yeah, I get it. Glad we agree, and thanks as always for reading and commenting! Readers like you keep me going.

  2. I’ve always seen your blog as a writing blog. Still remember when you wrote poetry and did those voiceovers. These days while you do tackle more personal issues, I still sense that writing flair and streak in your words – you know how to convey emotion through written form so well.

    Writing about those hard times makes us vulnerable. We all go through hard times and it’s refreshing to hear someone like you speak so boldly about it. Then again, there are some people who might go ‘thankfully that’s not me’ and that can make you question why you share the way you do.

    Over the years my blog seems to have become a less multicultural blog as I am writing more on topic other than that. I guess…it’s okay. It’s my blog. I’m my own writer, and our perspective and interests change over time. Like the tagline of your blog, change is the only constant in life…you ways say it so well 😊

    • Interesting, Mabel. I didn’t say it explicitly, but it was actually a conversation we had on your blog that inspired this post. I commented something along the lines of sometimes having difficulty knowing how much to share and not share, and wishing I felt more free to talk about being an aunt. And you said something about how you’d always seen my blog as quite personal…

      I agree, though, first and foremost my blog is a writing and ideas blog. It’s not a place I’d ever give week-by-week descriptions of my life’s events. But I have found it necessary to share stories about me and my journey to maintain passion and relevance. I’m also not worried about the people who might say, “Thankfully that’s not me.” I’ve actually never run across anyone who has, and if I did, I wouldn’t mind them. Everyone has their own “stuff,” and if someone thinks they don’t, they’re in denial or completely oblivious and need more help than me.

      You’re right. Things shift and change depending on where we are in life. I’m glad you and Fraggle convinced me to keep my name and tagline. Thanks for reading!!

      • I always cherish the conversations that we have, Jess. They are always so meaningful. Your blog is personal, but ultimately the writing side shines through. Not many writers can do that. Sometimes before I share something online I ask myself would I be comfortable sharing this with a complete stranger, and that helps.

      • Sorry I’m so late responding to this, Mabel. I sometimes write a post then shove my blog to the side for a few days to focus on other things. I think you know this already!

        I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if I met some of my blogging friends in person. Would we feel like we already know each other? Or would it feel like we were strangers who just, weirdly, know something about each other? I have a feeling it would feel funny at first, but that the uncomfortable feeling would pass quickly. I think it’d be wonderful! (Incidentally, I’m working out a plan in my budget to start saving for travel again. I have my heart set on seeing Australia and New Zealand in the next few years.)

        As a writer, though, no higher compliment could be received than to hear that my writing shines through. Thank you!

  3. Here to serve! 😊 seriously Jess, you’ve always been genuine in your writing, and that makes it a ‘personal’ blog even when talking about yourself, and when you do, it shows your humanity, and that’s good to see (read 😊) the world needs people who write from their heart.

An angel earns a pair of wings every time you comment.

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