“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.