“Shame and vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity”

Especially in younger neighborhoods around Chicago, you’ll notice that when young women — and some men — pass store fronts with big windows, they will turn their heads to see their reflections. It’s almost as predictable as it is annoying.

Those same people will never give anyone any eye contact, but they’ll always give themselves a once over any time they’re able to.

This only happens when their heads aren’t buried in their phone screens or taking selfies to share on social media.

In my French class this week, we talked about the phenomenon known as selfies. Selfies being the now ubiquitous self portraits we see on social media. Girls and guys hold up their phone and snap portraits of themselves then they post for all the world to see their duck lips, cuteness, hotness, hairdos and whatever the fuck else.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fucking Fairest of them All? 

We discussed selfies as narcism. Those who post selfies seem to constantly need to post often with the need to one up the last selfie. One up their friends. One up the restaurant or travel location they’re in.

Lots of us find selfies annoying, especially when done with too often.

I often criticize myself for the narcism of blogging. As if putting myself out there in this form is a way to stroke my ego. As if the currency of hits, comments or likes is only feeding the beast that is myself(ie).

Blog posts aren’t portraits, per se, but they’re peaks into the thoughts and ideas of the writer. I post about myself. I often post videos or even photos where the camera is pointed at me. I often wonder is it annoying? Am I as annoying as a selfie poster?

My answer is often yes, and then the result is that I back off blogging. Or I back off sharing myself.

In my therapy session yesterday, I discussed this a little. My therapist brought up a Ted Talk by Brené Brown, a vulnerability researcher. He encouraged me to take a look at it.

So I did this morning.

In it, she talks about how when you ask someone about love, they talk about loss. When you ask them about success, they talk about failure.

She discovered through years of research that shame and vulnerability are the birthplaces of creativity. And that those who express themselves openly have a more successful experience in love and life.

I’ve written about why I walked away from blogging before. I thought it was hurting my familial relationships. In doing so, I walked away from self expression and essentially from vulnerability.

I walked away from creativity.

I walked away from “selfie” expression. 

I can’t agree with this more. I’ve found myself the most creative, the most productive, the most free when I’m pushing out my thoughts on subjects.

And whether or not this expression was annoying to some or not was really none of my business. There were tons of others who read and were engaged.

In my therapy sessions, we talk about self-compassion a lot. Essentially because I have a hard time forgiving myself for most every thing I perceive as incorrect. It causes a sort of inability to forgive others, too, which is a negative that I’m working on.

At the end of Brené Brown’s TED Talk, she gave some bullet points that are sort of conclusions to her research, which I jotted down, not necessarily accuratley. But they are:

  • Let ourselves be seen
  • Love with our whole hearts
  • To embrace the concept that “I am enough.”

To let yourself be seen means, at least to me, to put yourself out there. Zits and all. This is tough coming from a photographer who is often asked to or even think that he must retouch images sometimes too much.

To let yourself be seen means to be honest. Which I often have a problem with. I don’t always open up about when I fuck up to everyone. Yet my strongest relationships are those with whom I am the most bare in my personality and feelings. Tina knows so much about me that the bond is, it would seem, unbreakable.

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine, a fellow artist and someone I look up to as a mentor was talking about the successes he’s found in his journey through life to find and discover a path to a greater sense of being, a clarity of thought, explorations of a greater sense of love and self compassion. He was opening up about how many things in his life are so amazing right now.

Then he looked at me straight in the face and told me that because I’m so tense, I cannot find this same love and understanding of how to be successful, not at his level. He told me that my approach was somehow incorrect and that to truly love, I had to open myself to the universe and be open to all it has to offer.

This same guy told me that he’s met some spiritual advisers, one of which used a divining rod to talk to a spirit about this individuals awesomeness. I think divining rods are bullshit (e.g. this and this and this). I’m not a believer in the paranormal, deities or devils.

This same guy is approaching his new approach on love while abandoning his own loving relationship with his spouse.

I could rant all day about this guy, but I shouldn’t. I don’t need to. I don’t need someone else to express their superiority while putting others down. That’s bullshit.

My response to him is: “you do you.” 

I happen to think I’m about the most loved person and loving as I can be. When I’m with Tina, I feel like the apple of her eyes and the recipient of the luckiest guy in the world award.

My dog loves me. I have a lot of clients who think fondly of me. I have friends who I’ve duped into loving me.

And I love them.

I have found love and I live in a place of love every day.

I think back to being a Christian and how I was taught to think that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate form of love. This kind of love saves you and gives you eternal life.

Wait, what?

With just a smidgeon of critical thought, I see no love in literally thinking eternal life was ripped from me thanks to my great great great great great great grandparents and their sin in a garden at the beginning of time. If that sin caused all the bullshit in the world and is only remedied after I accept that a magic man was tortured, died and whoopdie fucking doo rose again … what kind of a love does that mean I’m working with?

It wasn’t until I saw Jesus as a metaphor and not a literal concept that sacrifice became something not to literally die for, but to die figuratively to yourself, to your feelings and ideas, so that love can be achieved by means of humility.

If “love” is “faith” or believing in something that is unseen, I am fully a believer in that. I’m not an atheist about that.

That’s about the only faith I’ve got. Because I’ve also realized that that faith can be broken. Tina doesn’t have to love me. Love is work. Love is fun. Love is humbling. Love is creative.

Tina may fall out of love with me. And then I’ll be standing in a puddle of tears with my dick in my hand wondering how I’m going to live.

When I believed that love could not be broken, I was living in a dream world. Love must be achieved, usually by honesty and vulnerability. Of saying “I’m sorry” when you don’t think you should. It’s a phone call. It’s a goddamn shame. It’s a fun ride and a thoughtful way to live.

And if my attention to details makes me tense some times … then I’ll take it.






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