Vulnerability & Art

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A year ago, I wrote a poem on my experience with loneliness. I read that poem at an event surrounded by friends, family, and strangers. It was difficult and intimidating to be so open about something so personal. Yet, the response I received from that experience, from a single reading, garnered more impact than any other piece I’ve ever written.

And their gracious responses were not because my poem was in any way literary genius. I believe they responded because I allowed my art to be vulnerable.

This goes against most—and certainly, my—human nature. We tend to protect ourselves, guard the things we care about for fear of pain, rejections, and embarrassment. But there’s something innately beautiful that can happen when we decide to allow depth in our art: we invite others into our vulnerability.

I believe we each have something good to offer the world. For me, this can mean putting words to emotions or situations that others feel but may not be able to describe or name. I desire to bridge art with a pure, human story, and through that, to something true, something found.

So, why am I talking about vulnerability? If I may be so bold, I want to encourage you to add vulnerability to your art, your stories. Perhaps even adding pieces of yourself, your story, your challenges, losses, or fears to your characters or themes. I’m by no means saying our characters have to be exactly like us; that would significantly defeat the purpose of exploring worlds and perspectives outside our own. Yet, don’t let the pendulum swing so far that you feel your character can’t have your strength, your grace, or your loneliness. All are beautiful and human and your experience to share, a part of your greater story.

So, if this idea makes you anxious or uncomfortable, I encourage you to jump. Try vulnerable. And see what truth, what light, may come.

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