“Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the ‘real me’ online, and to spend more time in certain types of online discussions… The same person that would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice.”

– Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

This statement is generally true for me, (although I might raise my hand in a giant lecture hall if my participation grade depended on it…).  I express myself better with written words and find that I share more willingly behind the protection of a computer screen.  However, every once in awhile, I blog and walk away unsettled with some piece of myself that I too openly shared.  Yesterday, was one of those days.

I wrote about the pressures on women to have it all, flourishing careers and children.  Inspired by the brave author of that Atlantic article, Anne-Marie Slaughter, I found myself sharing more than I normally would about my own tug-of-war between career and children.  Each time I reread my words, I had a hard time pinpointing what exactly made me feel uncomfortable, but still, there was something there, some part of me overexposed and vulnerable that I just could not leave on the internet for all to read.  I deleted it.

In bird by bird, Anne Lamott says, “We write to expose the unexposed.  If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must…  Most human beings are dedicated to keeping that one door shut.  But the writer’s job is to see what’s behind it, to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words…  You can’t do this without discovering your own true voice and you can’t find your true voice and peer behind the door and report honestly and clearly to us if your parents are reading over your shoulder.  They are probably the ones that told you not to open that door in the first place.”

That’s the funny thing about blogging.  It can be very raw and exposed for that exact reason.  All of the people in your life are sitting on your shoulder and sometimes it is difficult to find the exact words to help them understand what you’re really feeling.  Even though I did not say anything over-the-top, or crazy yesterday, and no one in my life reacted negatively, I still felt vulnerable because the topic of family is sacred to me.  I could not expose myself without feeling overexposed.

I like what a close family member said to me last night, sitting out under the stars, “Expose yourself in fiction.”  For now, I agree, even if I deeply admire people like the author of that article, people willing to expose themselves to make some greater point.


14 thoughts on “Overexposure.

  1. Melanie says:

    I can understand totally.

  2. Ditto!

    And I honestly would have to say I’m more of an introvert than people may think. I would definitely NOT be the one to raise my hand in a lecture hall full of people. I think I’m an extrovert to the people I hold close and feel comfortable around. In most situations, I’d rather find myself lost in a crowd than be someone who stands out. Hmmm…what do you call that? An introvert posing as an extrovert? Haha!

    It makes me feel good when people write things and I am thinking/feeling the exact same thing. So, thank you for that.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I think the more I get to know you, the more I realize that we have a lot of similarities. You do a better job of “posing” as an extrovert, although really, I think we’re all a little bit of both depending on the situation. I’m with you though– around people I’m comfortable with, I am not so quiet. As is evidenced by our little adventure last week 😉 That was fun, I’m glad we pushed ourselves out of our boxes!

  3. kingmidget says:

    Another good post and related to something I’m trying to figure out how to blog about. Do you find yourself going to parties or get-togethers and wishing you had your computer so you could blog instead of engaging with the people you’ll be spending time with? Alternatively, while you seem to be saying you can blog about things you may not say to your friends and family, for me, it’s that my family has no interest in talking about the kind of things that I blog about. I bring up topics like this and I get a blank stare, and the conversation shifts to whether we should buy a boat. OK, that was a slight exaggeration, but I think you get the idea. There’s this void I’m finding that blogging fulfills. I’m trying to figure out how to write it on my own blog. Your post here goes there in a way. I’m trying to figure out to say it myself.
    Expose yourself in your fiction … well, that’s my second novel. 🙂

    • oliviaobryon says:

      My feelings toward parties depend on who is there. If I am close to many of the people, I generally have a good time, if it is a room full of strangers, I’d rather be at home with my computer or a good book. I do find increasingly that I relate to fewer and fewer of my friends growing up.

      It’s funny, but the whole overexposed thing isn’t so much that I do not want to share those feelings with my friends and family, but that I almost feel like I’m betraying them sharing with the whole big wide world. There are some things that I feel like I need to keep personal, that I’d be okay with sharing verbally, but don’t feel right about broadcasting. Anonymity would solve this, though, which I realize is a bit of a contradiction. If I kept a blog that wasn’t titled by my name or accompanied by my pictures, I think I would feel differently. Then again, half of what I like about blogging is how it connects me to people I also know in real life, (as well as those I don’t).

      Sometimes I just worry that a blog post doesn’t reflect the depth or feeling behind my thoughts, that somehow it comes off as cold or not fully explored, or too personal to belong to strangers. Basically, I’m often conflicted about what I am comfortable with sharing.

      • kingmidget says:

        Your comment about betraying your friends and family is also similar to something I feel as I blog. It’s kind of a “why am I writing this for my blog” instead of talking with my family. Well, at least part of the reason is found in my initial comment here. These are the types of things they don’t want to talk about. Plus, this is such a massive effort at self-exploration. Sometimes, I think blogging is just a really selfish endeavor. I don’t know. I generally shake those thoughts off and post what I feel like posting because I’m enjoying the dynamic. Maybe somewhere along the way I’ll tire of this as I tire of most things. But, for now, it’s interesting and therapeutic.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        I feel the same ways. Even though blogging can feel selfish, however, I’m also realizing that it connects me with people that share interests beyond my regular sphere of friends/family. I know this is what you were getting at before, but I didn’t really internalize it until just now that as much as my friends/family will listen to me, most of the time they do not really relate to my struggles as a writer. It’s nice to connect with people that understand. I’m deciding that is what blogging is for, makes me feel less self-indulgent 😉 And, it’s always a nice surprise when people from my real world relate, too. Somehow, when people connect, the selfish part starts to go away…

  4. jeffo says:

    Hi, Olivia, found you via Rachelle Gardner’s blog today. It’s a funny thing, this whole blogging/social media world. I’m very jumpy about giving out personal information–I get prickly when store clerks ask me for my e-mail or phone number or ZIP code, yet I think about how much information I’ve probably let slip on my own blog. Yikes. It’s funny, though–sometimes it is easier to express things to strangers via blog than to people I know, and my life as an aspiring writer is one of them. Partly because I don’t know that my friends would understand, and partly, I guess, to keep the ‘worlds’ separate.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      What you shared makes me think about how some of what I put on my blog allows me to connect with the type of people I don’t know many of in real life– aspiring writers. There is definitely a lot of camaraderie in blogging that is harder to find in the real world, (or maybe is a good bridge to the real world?). I know what you mean though, there is a desire to keep worlds separate, even if it is increasingly difficult to do!

  5. I saw Susan’s talk on TED and it definitely hit home with me. This is my first blog effort and I find myself wanting to say as much as I can, but I believe a lot of that may be because hardly anyone that really knows me, even knows that I have this blog (only my 2 best friends know). I guess what I’m not seeing is that I do not feel that the majority of the people that I know will ‘get’ me and my blog, but instead of clamming up and hiding my voice, I am just hiding myself from them. Maybe when I find people that I can truly connect with and understand me, will I share with them my blog.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I watched that same TED talk, it was great! I like the book too, although it has been one of those slow, read a little here and there, kind of reads for me. The more I think about it, the more I am realizing that part of why I am willing to share parts of myself on my blog is because it connects me with people experiencing the same things, which is often less true of the people in my real life, (especially when it comes to writing). Thanks for sharing your experiences! It’s nice to connect with other bloggers/writers!

  6. As an introvert myself, I can relate to this. I’ve heard it all over the years: “Why don’t you talk more?” ” You’re too reserved.” ” She’s not very friendly.” etc. It really bothers people when someone isn’t very talkative. But I’ve learned to not let that bother me anymore; there’s nothing wrong with being quiet.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I completely agree and obviously relate! I think that’s part of why I like Susan’s book quoted above, it made me feel proud to be an introvert. She talks a lot about how our society pushes people to be extroverts, even though many of us aren’t. I grew up with people always thinking I was snobby because I was quiet, drove me crazy! 🙂

  7. kingmidget says:

    “It’s nice to connect with people that understand. I’m deciding that is what blogging is for, makes me feel less self-indulgent”
    Pretty much says it right there … I need to connect with people who can understand what I’m feeling and walk through these thoughts with me. If it aint happening at home, it’s gotta happen somewhere.

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