Are authentic and vulnerable being overused?

I listen to a lot of podcasts (I mean, a lot, a lot!) and read numerous blogs, and I keep hearing (or reading) that words like “authentic” and “vulnerable” are being overused online, specifically in creative businesses. And that a lot of people are sick of hearing them.

 

I just want you to know: you’ll never hear me say that.

 

In fact, it kind of pisses me off that anyone would say that those words are overused. If anything, I want MORE authenticity and vulenerability online! It reminds me of what Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to
make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

 

It’s easy to be fake online. To be someone else. To only take pictures when your house is perfectly clean (I know I have dirty dishes in my sink right now… anyone else?) or after you just got your hair done (I might be the top-knot queen Monday-Friday).

 

It takes guts to be your authentic self. Click To Tweet

It takes guts to be your authentic self. We’re so worried that our words or our age or our weight or our dirty studio or whatever else might offend someone online, so we don’t share those things – even if they are “authentically” us.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think we should strive to be our best selves. But that also includes being our true selves.

 

And when it comes to being vulnerable, well, I think any artist is automatically being vulnerable by sharing their work with the world via social media and blogs, etc. It can be a scary thing. But being vulnerable by going deeper and sharing even more of yourself and your life can be even more intimidating for some.

 

For instance, I’m 45. But I hardly ever mention my age because the world of thriving artists and (especially) creative entrepreneurship online seems to be a vastly younger crowd. In fact, I heard a well-known podcaster/website designer (who I adore and listen to weekly!) say she’d never work with a woman over 40 because we’re not tech savvy enough to communicate via email. WHAAAT?! 💔💔💔

 

Umm, I’ve been using email since 1993 and I made my first website in 1995 – a Pearl Jam fan site on Geocities! Anyone else remember Geocities? 😂 Only me? Okay…

 

But the point is,  unfortunately, that it’s statements like hers that keep people from sharing who they truly are. And that’s not only heart-breaking, but it also can hurt the growth of your business.

 

How? Well, many (not all, of course) people who buy art or other handmade goods really love to know about the people who have created them.

 

In the old-school art world, you’d go to gallery openings and artist talks, and maybe art or craft fairs, and that was pretty much the only way a patron (or potential patron) could get to know an artist. Of course, artists and patrons still meet this way today.

 

But the fact that we can let them in even more via social media and our blogs these days is amazing! It allows us the opportunity to create a bond between ourselves and our buyers.

 

And just to play devil’s advocate with myself and offer a full-disclosure: I’m a total introvert and I do tend to hold back on sharing certain things about my life. So I don’t mean to say that you must share pictures of your messy studio or details about your family or how you grew up, etc. in order to be authentic! I’m saying that when you do post to your blog or social media, it’s best to be REAL.

 

What I’m saying is: You do you.

 

Whether you share selfies, or not… or whether you share all the details about your life, or not: it doesn’t matter. But being authentic about what you do share does. By sharing your true self (even in small amounts) and being vulnerable, you’ll attract your dream customers. And isn’t that what all this online sharing is about?

 

And when they find you and buy from you? Well, that feels awesome!

 

So here’s to being authentic and vulnerable!

 

 

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  • Wonderful words! From a fellow introverted, top knot wearing, dirty dishes in the sink and counter, 47 (nearly 48) year old, I applaud you.

    I try, very hard, both in my personal and business life to be authentic. I’ve worked hard to figure out who I am AND become comfortable with it. Funny how authentic is seen as being “overused” when we swim in a sea of photo filters, tips for taking the best selfie, how to perfectly style your bookshelf and being told our teeth are not white enough. It’s quite possible, as with many things, the people who are not comfortable being their authentic self create the discourse as a form of self-protection.

    P.s. The Emerson quote is beautiful!

  • Oh my goodness! I heard that podcast episode, too, and almost fell over! At least the other podcast host gasped out loud, which made me feel better but yikes! What a thing to say.

    I’m 45, too, and sometimes feel the same way you describe. (In fact, I’ve often thought about attending one of the get aways those podcast folks do but then I wonder: Will I be the oldest one there? Will I have little in common with most of the attendees?)

    I agree heartily with what you say here and you doing you. 🙂

    • Ugh… that podcast episode! I’m almost quit listening forever when I heard it. But it’s a great show, and we live and learn.

      I didn’t go to their conference, but I’ve been to a few others where I am among just a few ladies over 40, but you know what?! I love it! We have real wisdom and life experience to share, and the energy of those things can be really amazing. So don’t let that hold you back. 😉

      Thanks for your kind comments, Keetha!

  • TOTALLY agree with you and funny, turning 40 has been so amazing, and my art is thriving in so many ways, and me, yes I can use email but I don’t know half the terms people use these days, and seriously whatever, if you aren’t willing to give me a go, you are not worth.
    Beautifully written article. Love it. Go you 💗

    • Yesss! I agree! I thought my 30’s were amazing, but it just keeps getting better! (Even if I am usually in bed by 9:30 on a Friday night! haha!) Thanks for your sweet comments, Dominika!

  • This was a lovely read, Jules! I really appreciated this post and also have dirty dishes in the sink right now! Also, some of the most tech savvy people I know are 40+ years old 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to keep on being true to ourselves while being our best self!