Creating Vulnerable

If there is anything in the world that is more vulnerable than creating, I don’t know what it could be. Walking around naked in front of supermodels, maybe? Though now that I think about it, I have actually done that, and writing a poem feels scarier.

I’ve been working on a new project, a series of monologues based on photographs of people who are homeless. At least, I am calling them monologues. I have never actually written a monologue before now so I don’t really know how one should be formatted, but whatever. They are kind of like free form poems, written with the idea that maybe they might be performed someday, or maybe just read in a book where they sit next to the photograph… I really don’t know, yet. It’s new.

What I do know, is that I think they are good. They light me up inside. They make me happy, like really, ridiculously happy, the kind of happy I get sometimes where I giggle like a schoolgirl with giddiness. My heart jumps when I read one. My entire being screams YES! DO THIS! THIS IS GREAT! THIS IS WHAT YOU WERE MEANT TO DO! IT’S SO AWESOME! I tend to do little dances around the room when I finish one. It’s incredibly fulfilling.

If I’m really lucky, this goes on for about a minute, maybe two. And then… the crash. Every bit of that confidence disappears and I’m suddenly a nervous, sweaty, shaky mess. What if they suck? What if I’m completely losing my mind? What if people hate them? What if I’m delusional? How can I ever put these out there? Why am I bothering to write them? (You get the idea). This, unfortunately, tends to go on for much longer than a minute or two. These voices have staying power.

This is why people stop writing, and painting, and singing, and drawing, and modge-podging, or whatever else it is that is your personal art escape in this world. It’s not just hard… It’s painful. It’s scary. It totally kind of sucks. It certainly isn’t easy on the heart, the mind, or the ego. Why do we do this?

And the answer of course is because it’s also needed, and beautiful, and amazing, and necessary. Sometimes I have to remind myself: nobody ever died from creating bad art (though I feel like I might, sometimes). We take this all so seriously. Don’t get me wrong, creating is such a vulnerable space, but the problem is that people have gotten confused over the years and have equated vulnerability with something that is bad. It’s not. It’s painful and hard and scary and it sucks but it’s still good, and it’s necessary. It’s where the magic happens. It’s where growth happens. And it’s where life gets interesting.

So when all my mean voices start screaming, I remind myself that I have danced naked, with all my curves and cellulite, in front of models. I have jumped off mountains when I’m terrified of heights. I remind myself that I’m brave. I remind myself that regardless of how scary this business of being vulnerable is, it’s not only something I can do but something that I have to do, because it’s my calling. And I remind myself that nobody is going to die if my free-form poems that I’m calling monologues all suck and people boo and hiss at me when I finally share them.

And then I use a life-line, and phone a friend, because nobody can do these things alone.

What is it that you are not creating because it’s scary? What is it that you are afraid to share? What is the world missing out on because you, yes YOU, aren’t creating beautiful things? Be brave. Share your work. Share your heart. Even if it sucks, (and it probably won’t), I promise that I will personally thank you for it, and I hope you will do me the same courtesy when I finally let the world see these poem monologue thingys.

Jennifer Underwood

About the Author

Jennifer Underwood

Jennifer is a coach, a counselor, and an entrepreneur, who lives in Seattle with her daughter. To find out more, check out the About Me page.

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