Trust and the fear that stands next to it

A few weeks ago, I sent my partial manuscript to a friend for a read through and some feedback before I headed back in. This friend (you may remember her from a couple of guest posts she wrote when I was sick last year) is part of a writing group I’m a part of.ย The other members of the group have read parts or most of it too.

It was a bit daunting, knowing it would be read, with all it’s flaws and inconsistencies. As a writer and artist, I feel so vulnerable and exposed when showing anyone my work. That’s me out there in those words, in that paint. And if my work is rejected or not liked, well then, I’m rejected and not liked too.

It’s hard to make ourselves vulnerable, isn’t it? In a world that constantly celebrates the strong and encourages us to be stoic and tough, it feels like weakness to be afraid. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of sharing something personal with someone, only to discover too late that our confidence is betrayed, used against us or twisted.

I must confess that I find it hard to make myself vulnerable. I take a long time to trust someone with my innermost self and will withdraw at the slightest sign that the trust has been compromised. I am extremely picky about who I share with, how much and when.

Trusting people with ourselves is hard for all of us, not just writers and artists.

Before sending my document to my friend, I knew some things about her that helped me not be too anxious about her seeing me in my novel. I knew she has experience in the industry; I knew she is an amazing writer herself; I knew her to be trustworthy by observing her dealing with others; and she has proven many times that she likes me and we are friends ๐Ÿ™‚

We need to be careful where we put our trust. We need to know people and have some sense of who they are before we hand them ourselves. Rather than not sharing or being vulnerable with others, we need to be discerning. We need to make good choices about who we share with.

And what did I get for my vulnerable calculated risk taking exercise?ย What came back to me was encouraging, useful, thoughtful feedback on my novel. Feedback without which I wouldn’t be feeling the confidence to dive back into writing again.

Sometimes, we need to risk being vulnerable to reap the benefits. Sometimes, we need to put ourselves out there and trust ourselves that we’ve trusted the right person.

Do you need to be vulnerable to move ahead from where you are?

12 thoughts on “Trust and the fear that stands next to it

  1. I think there are levels of trust. The trust you are talking about…putting yourself out there and trusting that the person you trust will be gentle, kind, objective, and helpful, is a deep level of trust.
    Another level of trust is that someone I’ve just met will treat me with respect and dignity, simply the basics of human interaction. I will trust people I meet until they give me some reason not to. (Then they REALLY have to earn it back!). But in the small, close-knit community where I’ve lived for over a dozen years, I find that most of the people who have always lived here only trust those whom they’ve known all their lives and know that they share the same values and experiences. They find it hard to trust or even know how to relate to those of us who have come from somewhere else. This is not an indictment of the people of this valley…it seems to be the way in which people in any small town or community treat those whom they do not know. I wish it were not so…I would love to be considered one of the neighbors…but I’m still the new lady down there in the old Beidler house.

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    • Yes, you’re right, our reticence in trusting others can be damaging and hurtful. And sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much it is shown that someone is trustworthy, some people just can’t do it. I hope I’m a little more trusting than that, but I do know it takes effort and a deep breath for me to plunge in and share myself with others. I’m working on it though! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I feel vulnerable every time I post a blog – especially those that are made up of my poetry or short stories. I’ve been rejected or ignored by so many magazines (non-fiction articles), I’ve lost count. I think I have a thick skin, or perhaps a tough skin. I love a good critical edit (especially by my friend and editor, Shawn MacKenzie). We have known each other for years now, and I trust her completely. I know what she sends me is considered and truthful. I trust her judgment. And though I don’t always follow her suggestions (not a blanket 100%), I so appreciate her insight and perspective. I think within the next six months or so I’ll have a collection of poetry “out there” and I scared! But also excited. Those that don’t like it – oh well. Those that do – yay!

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    • Yes, I think having thick skin really just means that you bounce back…not that it doesn’t hurt or that you’re not vulnerable. Having a good friend/editor always helps when getting our babies ready for the world (I’m lucky I have a whole group of them!). Can’t wait to read your collection!

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  3. Some of my life experience has made me the least trusting person on the planet – but when I give someone my confidence, it’s unreserved. Trouble is, I expect that level of commitment in return. Most civilians don’t get it. They work within a framework of ‘qualified trust’, in which commitments are honored if they don’t impinge too much on convenience, and don’t ‘cramp their style’.

    By the same token, I tend not to care what civilians think of me. That’s a very unkind way to say it, and I mean no offense, but I can’t think of any sort of apologetics that would still be accurate.

    Could I benefit from being more vulnerabl,e and accepting a world of qualified trust? Definitely. Will it ever happen?

    Well, Moses DID part the Red Sea.,..

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    • You sound a bit like me! I hope you do have a few you can trust implicitly and who give you ‘unqualified’ trust. I figure if I take a risk based on sound judgement and discernment, and am vulnerable with someone and it blows up in my face that God can help me move past it…after all, if He can part the Red Sea, He can surely heal my hurts ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. I don’t mean to sound as though I think myself “the voice of experience” on this issue, as I’m still unpublished. But I’ve endured several levels of the sharing you’re talking about (critique partners and beta-readers, editors and mentors, and industry submissions). You’d think the fear would diminish with the experience of handling each level, but I haven’t found it to be the case. There’s always a new standard to fear you haven’t met, a new bar you can’t possibly clear.

    But there is good news, and a toughening of the skin that occurs. For example, a week or so ago I shared the most recent rewrite of the manuscript for book one of my trilogy with two different readers–one a mentor and esteemed industry pro, the other a writer friend I’ve known for several years now. Not so long ago, sharing it with the writer friend would’ve made my stomach do the twist. Now, with my gut twisting over the mentor, sending it to my friend was like a walk on the beach. Hopefully, by the time I’m sharing it with readers in general, I’ll have endured such a curing of the skin that I’ll be a bit more impervious to those inevitable bad reviews (yet another level).

    I’m so excited that you’re working on it again, Susannah! Go you–way to be brave! Onward! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • You’re right, there are different levels, aren’t there? And I am yet to experience many of them from a writing point of view! I am pleased to hear you say it gets easier ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for your encouragement Vaughn! I’m feeling so pumped about my story again!

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  5. Thanks for your post!
    I do agree with you that in this highly competitive society is really hard to show our vulnerable side. The fear of being laughed upon and rejected can be really quite painful.
    So may I ask if do you have any insight on how can we be more open yet avoid feeling defeated by critics?

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    • Hi Spectraoflife ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess having a strong sense of self is a really good place to start.

      For those of us who have insecurities (which includes most of us, doesn’t it!), placing trust in those we know to be kind, positive, and proven trustworthy people is a great way to build up our resilience against those who might laugh or reject us.

      I know for me, trusting those I know are trustworthy, has given me strength and courage to ‘go out on a limb’ in trusting someone new.

      Eventually, although never immune from being hurt, I guess we become so secure in who we are and those who love us that the fear dissipates and others lose their power to hurt us through their rejection.

      Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

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        • Of course, in any relationship there is the potential and risk of being hurt but our loved ones are certainly the best place to start being vulnerable with ๐Ÿ™‚

          I’ll look forward to seeing you around more often!

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