Vulnerability can be bloody terrifying! Growing up I never allowed myself to be vulnerable; I was always strong, determined and happy. So how the hell did Social Media strip my confidence and make me crash to the floor in a heap?!
There is a vulnerability that knocks at your door the day you become a mother and five years ago it came knocking. “Tap tap tap, I’m coming in whether you like it or not!” it beckoned. Then it settled in and made itself comfortable while my ground shook.
No matter how strong you once were, this fragile little package creates a whole new vulnerable world before you and forces you to look inward.
I looked inward and although uncomfortable with this new vulnerability, I learnt to keep it at shoulders length. Being vulnerable isn’t easy, especially when you’ve always hidden that part of you from the world but over time it was OK. Then, after starting Alice In Weddingland and delving into the ‘must have social media to survive’ mentality, the vulnerability suddenly infected other aspects of my life and made me start questioning myself; “Am I a good wife? Am I am good enough blogger? Maybe it’s not for me? Can I do this?” and the ultimate – “Maybe I should give up!” These thoughts started to regularly shape my every day as I plundered into my new world that was twitter and Facebook – I was learning to be ‘social’
The jaws of vulnerability
Vulnerability had me in it’s jaws and I had no idea how to get out.
The more I delved into Social Media, the more vulnerable I got. Suddenly I was thrown into a complete mess as I began utilising the social media networks; Facebook, twitter and Pinterest. I was out there – in public view – ready to be carved up by the first person who decided they didn’t like me. I was suddenly thrust in front of thousands of people and had stepped outside my small world. And the competition!!! Oh the competition! I tried to go out there and introduce myself to other wedding bloggers by sending emails to some I’d found on Google in the hopes that we could share life, love and our experience in the same industry; I love like-minded people, I love being inspired by others – but I was greeted with silence instead, so in the early days I travelled alone, loving what I was creating but terrified of the vulnerability creeping in on me.
I have always been the kind of person that wants to be liked and finds it so hard when I’m not – apparently, I’m a people pleaser (Oh how I hate that term). But suddenly here on social media I was being judged by strangers and learning to survive in this strange virtual world. But behind the social media doors – I was crashing.
The un-social media
I tried to ‘do’ social media like everyone told me I had to and watched as a myriad of ‘Hey Lovely’s’ went flying by. I’ll be honest, I often wondered ‘why would anyone care what I’m doing right now” I just didn’t get it. It seemed to be about everyone’s cat, dog, new car, Friday night pub crawl and authenticity seemed to be hiding. Or was that just me?! One day I crashed on the floor sobbing, groaning to myself ‘What the hell am I supposed to be, I hate this stuff, I hate being fake’ I thought and consoled myself in my tenth tissue of pity.
It had taken over! But it grabbed hold, sucked me in and suddenly I was tweeting, posting and chatting as though I was someone else, not me! I felt forced into fakedom and so began a contradiction of my values. I thought I had to put ‘Me’ aside and become ‘The Blogger’. Isn’t that what you have to do in order to grow your blog, increase your stats and become a personality to fight your way into the world of blogging? I hated it, every, single, minute of it.
Back then it all got so out of hand but after crashing to the floor I gave myself a mighty big metaphorical kick up the ass and the sun started shining again.
Finally from some unknown place arrived my inner confidence again -“Hello! I said in and overexcited tone. You’re back!!”
It’s the same confidence that arrived at the door when vulnerability did after I had my baby girl. It’s hard to describe it really, it’s this strength that arrives after becoming a Mother. It’s instinctual, it’s intimate and it’s alive; driven by a determination to defend my world around me to make sure I kept all ugliness away from my baby girl. I was to be a mentor for this beautiful human being so I ruddy-well better do everything I can to ensure I’m a damn good role model for her . I WILL protect her with everything I have!
My metaphorical sun started to shine again and off I went being social. My confidence raced down the motorway at 100 miles an hour with the breeze lapping at the window caressing every decision I made with confidence.
Until… the collision.
Boy this was hard work
Sometimes, out of nowhere, there’s a bend in the road and you drive straight into vulnerability again. You come tumbling down into that world of low self esteem, indecision and judgement – judgement of ourselves… ‘Am I doing this right, do people like me, am I worth it?’ The social un-Me was rising it’s ugly head as I was yet again swept away in the ‘I must, mustn’t I’s?’ of the social media world. Boy this was hard work.
It’s in these hours that the worry starts, the questioning begins and we falter.
I found myself on many bends a year ago as I drove toward my new destination in learning to be a blogger; vulnerability and self confidence constantly arguing, sometimes screaming, with each other. This world of social media, tweeting and having to b’e’ someone made me loose who I truly was and I was yearning for that confidence again. I was struggling with my life, my love for myself and my love for my job. I was on a collision course to somewhere.
And then it happened…
A tear ran down my cheek
One morning, awake at 1.30am I listened to the calm of the quiet house. Happy in my thoughts I reflected on a reality TV show from the previous night. One of the contestants had a mentoring session and amongst other positive feedback she got this…
“You are a very strong, confident and sexy woman but sometimes you border on dislikeable because you lack vulnerability”.
In the cool of the night the words resonated in my head as a tear ran down my cheek.
The contestant started to cry. “The one thing I’ve always tried to be” she said “Is liked. I don’t want to be unlikeable”.
And then my tears fell dripping down my face like cold rain. In that moment I saw my reflection and I finally understood who I was for the first time.
Suddenly my past whizzed around me as I sobbed into the duvet, desperate not to wake Rob.
Don’t you want me to be strong?
I have always been strong and never shown my cracks. I was always the strong child, always the strong friend, always the strong wife… No matter what. I thought that’s what people wanted me to be.
Even when my first husband became entangled in the heart ache of alcoholism, I never cracked in front of anyone. I just took the abuse and stayed strong… Why?
I don’t have a romantic memory of high school either; I was bullied because I ‘walk funny’. Yet I remained strong, even when I was hurt and afraid. For some stupid reason, somewhere, sometime, I felt I had to keep those I loved safe from worry and safe from hurt. That’s what I did. That’s who I was. That’s how I kept everyone around me safe and happy, by not allowing myself to be vulnerable.
What the *?*!
Judge me not, judge me you will
Three hours later I crawled out of bed and sat on the sofa downstairs. Wrapped in my fuzzy blanket warming my heart more than my body, I felt relief!
I never imagined that my strength, even through those bends, could make me unlikeable just because I’m strong and just because I try my best to hide my insecurities and pretend I’m confident!!! But it’s true. Some people have and will again and this was haunting me again in my life through the social media fuzz. I am a blogger; a personality in written words… suddenly my vulnerability had came hauntingly close and I was afraid of being judged.
I stood up, dropped the blanket to the floor and breathed. “No more” I uttered. I knew what I had to do and that was simply, ‘Just be!!!’
And so I did! I woke the next day utterly saturated in me and started my social media journey again, the right way, as me – all of me, and not a pretend personality.
Loving hearts, warming souls
I now understand who I am and I allow myself vulnerabilities and judgement. Even though some days it’s still hard to take. It’s people with loving hearts, warm thoughts and care that drive me forward. It’s little Thank you’s on the blog and the support from so many people that keeps me strong and the excitement of what I do – I’m lucky, I love my job!
Now, when vulnerability knocks, I invite it in for a cup of tea and then send it merrily on it’s way. Becoming a mum taught me to open the door to vulnerability and not fight it and I had to get back to that. Being vulnerable is being honest and that means being ‘Me’! If I’m vulnerable, I just try to use it like a little safety net of calm that allows me to be real and not always strong.
A year ago I struggled with being a mum and with working 12 hours a day and so I dissolved myself like an aspirin into an exhausted cup of tea. The fuzzy world of social media and laying your heart on your sleeve for a job was something so frighteningly new to me that I got it all wrong. But now I understand it and I understand that when you’re passionate about something and you ‘Just Be’ yourself, life happens successfully around you.
Follow the white rabbit
Social Media crashed my world and then picked it right back up again. I am strong, yet I am vulnerable and I own it. I owe my baby girl my heart and soul because becoming her mummy is what gave me the strength and determination to make this work.
Bug hugs and love
P.S. The Power of The Social You!