Speaking Your Truth | Navigating the Fragile Line Between Authenticity & Vulnerability
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
"I could never be as raw and vulnerable as you are on social. I don't know how you do it!"
"That was so powerful. I wish I could write something like that."
"I want to create inspiring content like you! l feel like I'm too boring. No one will care what I have to say."
I have heard variations of these statements from so many women in my life. From comments on Instagram photos, to Facebook messages, and late night phone calls, my fellow female creators are all saying the same thing: that they are scared to be vulnerable. They are afraid to open up and show their "true selves" to their audiences on social media.
All of this fear and anxiety is based around rejection. We are afraid that people will pay too much attention to us, and also afraid that they won't pay us any attention at all. We are afraid of being too loud & opinionated, or speaking so quietly we cannot be heard. We are afraid of being too confident and too proud; because if we are posting pictures of ourselves on social media every day we must be arrogant & conceded, right?
Opening up to the world doesn't have to be scary. Creating content for social media, like any other routine aspect of your business, should come easily and naturally to you and the brand you've built.
We know that authentic engagement plays a large part in creating meaningful connections to your audience on social media. But here's the thing: a lot of us get authenticity confused with vulnerability.
What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity is the act of representing one's true nature or beliefs. Simply put, authenticity is about being genuine. It's about honest connection and being yourself. I believe you should be 100% authentic with your audience, because nowadays people can smell fakers on social from mile away. And this authenticity can be super simple. If you truly love yoga and practice six days a week, posting about your yoga practice should come effortlessly to you! But if you're only a wannabe yogi, and the truth is you spend most of your free time on the couch watching Scandal, you might want to reconsider what you share with your audience. Stay true to you, your brand values, and the activities you are passionate about, and authenticity should come naturally to you.
Vulnerability is quite different. Being vulnerable means you are making yourself open to moral attack and criticism. It means you are making yourself susceptible to being hurt by others, often by sharing something triggering or intimate. Vulnerability is about going deep, and sharing the "secrets" we often keep from our friends and families because we were too scared to expose them in the past.
Being vulnerable is where you need to be careful, because you have the real potential to hurt others and yourself. Before sharing something intimate like your weight-loss journey, experience with bullying growing up, or your alienation from your parents, it's a good idea to sit down and do a risk assessment first. Who could be offended by what you're about to share? How can sharing this backfire on you? Do the pros of sharing this outweigh the cons?
You get to decide.
Put some time aside to list the different aspects of yourself and your brand that you want to share with your audience. Which aspects are authentic? Keep those on the list, and remove the one's that are superficial. Which authentic aspects are also vulnerable? Do a risk assessment on these. If the positive potential outweighs the negative, keep those aspects on the list, and ditch the ones that feel "too scary".
The line between authenticity and vulnerability can be an intimidating one to walk, but it doesn't have to be. And it all comes down to understanding your boundaries. Share what you are comfortable sharing, and don't let anyone push you into doing anything other than that!
CEO, Lead Photographer & Chief Strategist
at The Branding Babe