Showing Vulnerability on Facebook — It’s not a cry for attention

I’m not one to censor my feelings on Facebook. I’ve ranted, cried, whined, and have posted just about every other “annoying” remark you see on the “Worst Type of Facebook Friends” articles. My father has faulted me in the past for sharing too much, and our culture tells people like me to shut up. None the less, I often feel compelled to share my feelings on Facebook despite the negative reactions and perceptions people have.

I struggle against social norms that tell me who I am suppose to be and what I’m suppose to say. For years I tried to play the game, but ended up building resentment and anger inside. Because I didn’t hear or see people like me expressing the thoughts and feelings I had, I felt isolated and alone. I didn’t feel worthy of love and community. I had never had a long term relationship, I often made social gaffes that I was mocked for, and I went through groups of friends quite regularly. It wasn’t until my late 20s, early 30s that I found my voice.

I saw a flyer for Rocky Mountain Roller Girls tryouts. My career as a derby girl started the transformation. I found a group of women who looked like me, sounded like me, and felt like me in many ways. Above all else, it was a group of women who made me understand that I was wanted, that I deserve connection, and my vulnerability is an asset. Not long after this transformation began, I started making more long term friendships, dating became more frequent, and my voice became strong.

The honesty of vulnerability create connections that imbue compassion and empathy.

Flash forward to 2016, the day after Thanksgiving, I shared this post. I was feeling low and rather than stew, I thought that sharing my feelings in this way might help someone like me connect and feel a sense of belonging. What I soon realized is that more often those who responded, or didn’t respond, told me a great deal about how vulnerability is viewed on social media. Coming at it from the other side now, I didn’t expect that people would see the post as fishing for compliments. {Let me say this before you get upset. Thank you to those who felt comped to tell me that I’m beautiful and the many other compliments. I appreciate the support.} My goal was to reach out to that friend or Instagram follower who might need a connection. That big beautiful woman who needed to see herself reflected back in a positive and meaningful way. I was being vulnerable on purpose.

It takes courage to be honest and vulnerable on social media (and in life). Who knows which post will go viral and expose your thoughts to millions of people. If this post had been shared a few times over, I could be dealing with trolls mocking my size and my honesty.

Now that I have found my voice, I will continue to have the courage to tell the story of who I am with my whole heart. I will have the courage to be imperfect. I will have the compassion to be kind to myself first and then to others. I will continue to create connections that result because of my authentic self.

So the next time you see someone on Facebook being vulnerable, respect that courage. Better yet, encourage the sentiment by being vulnerable yourself. Share your feelings, share your fears, accept that vulnerability will make you a better person.

If you would like to learn more about the power of vulnerability, check out this video from Brené Brown’s Ted Talk in June of 2010. Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.