Are you perfect? No?
Good. Me neither. Let’s talk about that.
If none of us are perfect, why do we go through life pretending as if we are? So much of our speech and our behaviour is devoted to maintaining the edifice of our egos. We try to convince the world that we've "got it all figured out". We say self-inflating statements. We act as if we aren’t scared when we are. We buy things to impress people we don’t even like. I’m guilty of it, and I suspect that you’re guilty of it too. The pursuit of imagined perfection is relentless. And alas, it’s all a charade.
We can stop though. At any moment we can choose to end it. And the moment we give up pretending we’re perfect, an opportunity presents itself.
We can connect with others.
These connections are brought about through our new-found vulnerability.
Vulnerability & Connection
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, showing the world that we are imperfect beings, suddenly we can better connect with others. They identify with our struggles. They see our flaws in themselves. If we let our guard down, and make confessions of anger, heartbreak, and inadequacy, it acts as an invitation for others to join us in our shared humanity.
Vulnerability breeds intimacy with others. But the pursuit of perceived perfection is the opposite; it is the attempt to keep others out, to keep others from knowing who we truly are.
Because of vulnerability’s tendency to connect human beings through shared experience, this means that vulnerability has a special role in art. Vulnerability is perhaps the most vital variable that can take art from mundane to masterpiece.
Vulnerability & Art
I love to write. And I hate to write.
I love writing, because it allows me to express what I am thinking and feeling. And I hate writing, because it forces me to share what I’m thinking and feeling.
Are you noticing a paradox or tension here?
I have a love-hate relationship with writing, because it makes me be vulnerable.
When I am vulnerable through writing, I can see when my words make an impact. When people tell me that they feel a connection to my work, it pushes me further down the path of vulnerability. But when I first publish a piece, I feel that all-too-familiar twinge of fear: “You shouldn’t have done that. What if people don’t like it? What if something you said gets you in trouble? That was a dumb idea.” The fear comes from being vulnerable. It comes from knowing that rejection is a card that I just slipped back into the deck.
But art without vulnerability is a hallow act. The artist must have a personal stake in their art for it to move the audience. Sometimes the stakes are low. Other times, they are dizzyingly high.
Art is not safe. The dancer dares to dance before you. The poet wagers their words against your judgment. The writer wrings their hands as they wait for the dice to settle after publishing their book. No matter what the art form, the creator risks something in the act of sharing their art with the world.
Art demands vulnerability. You must show your imperfections in your work. “This is what I think. This is what I feel. This is what I’ve experienced. Embrace it, or tear it to shreds.” Unless there is an honest human being behind the work, it’s hard to call whatever is created “art”. Vulnerability is one of the key ingredients that creates connection with others through any artistic medium.
A Call To Vulnerability
I want to be more vulnerable. I want to share things with the world that I haven’t yet had the courage to share. The publication of this piece is one of my first daunting steps towards this goal.
I have been inspired by the vulnerability that I have seen here on Steemit. Seeing others show their authentic-self bolsters my courage. @Raymondspeaks is a prime example of vulnerability in action. His piece on being a father to a son with autism, and realizing that he too is on the autism spectrum, inspired me to write about vulnerability. Through @Raymondspeaks' vulnerability, he connected with me. His vulnerability urged me to begin sharing more openly in my own writings. Every piece he writes oozes with honesty, and his results speak for themselves.
I encourage all the creatives on Steemit to join me in a vow to be more vulnerable in your art. By putting more of your imperfect self into your work, you will push your art closer to perfection. The real beauty in your work will shine through the seams, cracks, and rough edges that you no longer hide from.
So please, stop trying to be perfect. Let’s all give up the act. Show me your failures, heartbreak, and flaws. It will make your successes, passions, and virtues that much more sublime.
Be vulnerable. Create. Connect.
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