What a challenging month! Did I share what I was going through moment by moment on social media? No. Why would I?
The answer is that we’re told we’re supposed to show up and be authentic, including sharing our challenges in a “vulnerable” way.
I know some live-out-loud people who have no problem doing that. But I’m a reserved, somewhat overthinking introvert, and I just can’t do that. It’s not my nature.
Why do I bring this up? Because it’s part of the “There’s something wrong with you” message introverts are constantly bombarded with because of all the advice out there that says you can’t be successful unless you do things the extrovert-friendly way, which tends to be the “live-out-loud” way.
A few things come to mind about this…
If it’s not our authentic nature to disclose everything we’re going through to a public we don’t know and can’t see, are we being inauthentic or perfectly authentic if we don’t share in an in-the-moment way?
An introvert’s real life is the inner world, which tends to be by its very nature private. The vision of a public expecting to know my inner world feels invasive, making me want to politely suggest that it’s “none of your business.”
Getting out there (preferably via video, the gurus say) and sharing what’s going on in my outer life can feel weird, gimmicky, and fundamentally inauthentic.
What about the marketing wisdom of “being vulnerable”? Do we have to jump on a live video when we’re caught up in some “authentic” emotion? I say NO!
Can we be authentically human with our world-facing self without showing in-the-moment vulnerability in public? I say YES!
Susan Cain, who gave birth to the introvert Quiet Revolution manages this nicely. She speaks eloquently of what her childhood was like as an introvert. Does she go on stage and reveal that she’s so nervous she wants to puke? No. (Not that she does, but you know what I mean.)
Let’s look at what I understand “vulnerability” to mean in today’s marketing: Showing vulnerability is a tactic where you choose something to confess or reveal that your ideal audience will relate to – preferably via live video to be truly effective.
For example, I’ve seen mom-preneurs jump on a live video in the morning with no make-up and tousled hair and confess that they’re struggling to juggle their kids’ schedules along with their home-based business. They get empathetic comments as they talk, and then they somehow transition to a business offer to help other struggling mom-preneurs implement productivity tactics…
I’ve seen others where they turn on the live video when they’re crying about something. Sometimes they even say, “This is me being vulnerable.”
I believe that even if introverts agree that “showing in-the-moment vulnerability” is a good tactic, most can’t bring themselves to do it. Maybe we can blame overthinking – “Who’s seeing this, and what could be the unintended consequences?” – or maybe we’re thinking, “This doesn’t feel like true authenticity to me.”
Note: If you’re comfortable enough doing it, then go for it. It’s a tactic that can serve to generate empathy and show that you’re just like your ideal audience.
The key for introverts is to show up in ways that are authentic for you. Yes, you do want to show empathy for the struggles your ideal clients are going through – struggles you’ve experienced yourself and have figured out ways to move forward through.
You do want to show that we’re all in this together. You don’t feel superior or “perfect.” You’re full of love and caring for your ideal clients. You bring a spirit of helpfulness while you yourself are in a growing process of continuously becoming more of who you really are. And you choose if, when, and how to share what feels authentic and helpful to share.
But you don’t have to switch on the video camera when you’re having a panic attack and broadcast it to the whole world.
If you think letting your ideal audience know you have panic attacks (or whatever) will help them, my advice is to share it through whatever medium you’re comfortable with – after you’ve come through the storm. That’s when it becomes a teaching moment that helps people, not while you’re going through it. And that’s what I did by sharing in a couple of newsletter editions how I dealt with my challenging month.
My point is: There’s nothing wrong with you as a reserved introvert! Get in touch with what’s authentic for you and ignore all the extrovert-biased advice out there. And go do the good work you’re here to do.
If you’re feeling bombarded by all the extrovert-biased advice out there, reach out to me for a conversation. One way is to go HERE and click the green button.