This is one of many Fear Confessions in which creatives share personal stories about facing their fears. Let’s celebrate vulnerability with Erica Midkiff as she shares her fear of sharing too much…or not enough.
I’m a researcher, an observer, a fact collector—which means that my default is to read a situation and then see how I can fit into it, or to gather a bunch of examples before diving into a project. When I started writing this post, I had to force myself not to read every single Fear Confession that has ever been published first (to make sure I did it “right”). Instead, I made a list of my fears and I started writing about a couple of them. But each time I really got into it, I became worried I was doing it wrong by sharing too much—or too little.
Let me explain. A couple of years ago, I read a great piece of advice from Brené Brown over on the Braid Creative blog, and it’s one I come back to again and again: Share what is vulnerable, not what is intimate. Brené talks about this in her work, too—that people need to earn the right to hear your deepest stories.
But I’ve realized lately that I have a hard time knowing where the line is between vulnerability and intimacy. Because as much as I love researching and observing and fact collecting, I also love connecting. I’m really into self-reflection and growth, and I love talking about what I’m learning. If I feel comfortable with someone, I often want to open up all the way, to enter into a deep, meaningful conversation. But when those conversations are successful, it’s because I already know I trust that person. When I’m put on the spot, I sometimes have a hard time knowing whether to open up or sit back and observe, so I sometimes end up awkwardly sharing too much to the wrong person, or I stay quiet and only later realize I missed an opportunity for beautiful connection.
I’m sure you can see, then, why this post is so hard for me to write. I don’t know you. I can’t research you, can’t read the room (I don’t even know what room you’re in!), can’t figure out how exactly I fit into your world. So instead, I have to rely on myself to make the call. I have to look inside of me, examine my own feelings, be the only judge—and that, if we’re being honest, is hard.
So I’m afraid that I’m not sharing enough with you—that I’m sharing something too safe, too boring, too bland. But on the flip side, I’m afraid that I’m opening up too much—that you’ll judge me, that it’s too much too fast.
So I’m relying on a trick I use in my work. I teach my content coaching clients to do a last read of a piece they’re about to publish and then close their eyes, imagine publishing it, think about how they feel, and then analyze those feelings. If they feel fear, for example, is it because they know there’s a side of the story they need to share in the piece but haven’t yet? If so, more writing and editing might be needed. But if they feel that fear we all face of putting themselves out there simply because that’s a hard thing to do, but they can’t identify anything legitimately wrong with their piece, it’s probably time to hit publish.
So while I am afraid I’ve done this all wrong, I’m stopping. I’m closing my eyes—right now, I’m doing it.
Am I still afraid? Yep. But I’m hitting publish anyway.
Erica Midkiff is a content coach who helps creative entrepreneurs explore their ideas, shape their core message, and share content with meaning. She believes wholeheartedly in the magic that happens when you combine clarity and consistency. In her spare time, she wrangles three rambunctious kitties with the love of her live in Birmingham, Alabama. She loves hanging out on Instagram (and so do her kitties).
Image credit: Erica Midkiff and Emma of W&E Photographie