There is a subtle pressure to not be yourself on the internet. It’s most obvious in the “convert or die” atmosphere of social media, regardless of which side you’re on (or, God forbid, if you’re in the middle), but that isn’t what stops the majority of people from speaking up.
It’s the family and friends who ask if you’re okay because your posts make them worry about your sanity and safety.
It’s the “thought leaders” and positivity mongers that you’re compared to and found wanting.
It’s the lack of response that lets you know people are uncomfortable with the you you’re showing them.
It’s questions about why: why you write like that, why you publish it instead of keeping it to yourself, why are you so sad.
It’s the fear (and certainty) of being misunderstood and mishandled when all you want is to be seen for who you truly are.
Because our real selves aren’t happy all the time. Because life is hard and weird and beautiful and awesome. Because we have hundreds of thousands of thoughts and feelings every single day, and the ones that stand out most are those that cause us pain. Because the kind of people given to the introspection required for being themselves in all circumstances are the kind of people who dig deep for the truth at the cost of their reputation. Because what value does a reputation have if it doesn’t reflect who you really are?
Being vulnerable on the internet is an act of bravery, a constant practice of identifying boundaries, choosing reactions, and committing and recommitting to telling the unsanitized story of your soul.
It’s not exhibitionism. It’s not ego. It’s not a cry for attention.
It’s alchemy—transforming the base stuff of your being into something precious. Chaos into connection. Straw into gold.
So don’t stop. On or offline, don’t stop being vulnerable in public. Don’t let the fear of judgment (real or imagined) silence you. Keep writing, painting, dancing, singing your soul. It may not be what they want to hear, but it’s the truth. It’s who you are. A divine being wrapped in dust, stumbling through life, looking for other divine beings wrapped in dust who see and hear you and say, “me, too.”