Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vulnerable

I have been thinking about how blogging and having your story and your journey "out there" makes you vulnerable in some ways.

Sharing your journey publicly leaves you open. It leaves you open to help, support, encouragement, and opportunities. Sharing your journey publicly also leaves you open to criticism, judgment, and ugliness.

I discovered this years ago, when I wrote a family blog about our adoptions, advocating for kids with special needs, etc.  I connected with many wonderful people. I found a lot of support and I gave a lot of support. But mixed in all of the good, there was some negative. Every so often I would get nasty comments, criticism, mean emails, etc. People can be very quick to judge others, and I believe they often say things "anonymously" or even just online that they would never say to a person's face.

I started this blog over two years ago as I wanted a place to write about my running. I have always been a writer at heart. I often struggle to say the words in my head, but have no trouble putting them to paper (or keyboard).  I did not expect that many people would be interested or would read along here, and I was pleasantly surprised when that turned out not to be the case. 

By writing this blog and reading blogs of other runners I learned a great deal about everything from training to shoes to races to gear to nutrition... I have gotten lots of support and have made many friends. I "found" my best friend!! I have gotten many wonderful opportunities. I have been SO inspired. I have become a part of a community that understands and shares my love of running. I have been able to share my successes and failures. Since I don't have a running community here where I live and since I train on my own, this is very, very valuable and important to me.

Of course there is also some negative. There are people who are rooting against me. There are people who think I am crazy and will never make my goals. There are people who hope I don't. There are people who feel the need to be competitive with me (which is silly, since the only person I am competing against is myself).

There are countless runners out there that run and blog and participate in social media, and then there are countless runners out there who run and go about it privately. I can see how it would be nice sometimes to be one of the runners who just goes about running and racing with no one paying any attention but family and close friends.

But those thoughts never last long.  Yes, by sharing my goals and dreams, and sharing my story and journey, I have made myself vulnerable in some ways. Luckily over the years my skin has gotten thicker, and as in all things in life, I strive to focus on the good. And the good far outweighs the small amount of negative. I am so grateful for all the very real support, inspiration, and encouragement that I receive and for the friends I have made through this blog. And every single email, tweet, and comment I get from someone thanking me for sharing my story and telling me that I inspired them in some small way truly means 100 times more to me than all the negative comments put together.

I decided that being vulnerable is not necessarily a bad thing. I am an open person and I really enjoy connecting with others. So win or lose, good and bad, I will continue to honestly share my journey here. I will continue to share my thoughts, dreams, goals, and experiences. I choose to put myself out there and share my journey because I am grateful for all that I receive by doing so, because I love to share my passion and inspire others to find that joy within themselves, and most importantly, because I believe that life is meant to be shared.

“If you have a candle, the light won't glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine.”  - Steven Tyler

"You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”- Albert Camus

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. ”- Erma Bombeck

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”- Charlotte Bronte

“Everyone that you meet knows something you don't. Learn from them. Share your experiences.”- Justin Cortillard

25 comments:

AmyZ, PhD said...

How can anyone possibly say anything negative about adopting kids in need of great families? There are so many kids that need that today. And...people who feel the need to compete with you or root against you just have their own issues. Really, it is not you, it is them. Please keep blogging about your journey; I am so inspired by your story! Every time I doubt my marathon abilities, I think of you :)

SupermomE12 said...

Amy - thanks for your kind words! Oh gosh though - people had PLENTY to say about adopting kids transracially. People had plenty to say about adopting kids with HIV. People had plenty to say about adopting from other countries (even though we adopted from the US as well). People have plenty to say about having a large family. Trust me, we have heard it all!

Many seem to think that just because they can't or wouldn't do something, no one else could or should either.

I have learned not to let the naysayers and the mean comments get me down. I know that we are doing what is right for us, and that is all that matters. Life is too good to let the few negative voices deter any of us. :)

Gracie said...

I'm glad you do - and will - share your story, because you're an inspiration to many. A lot of people make excuses, not just about why they can't find time to exercise, but why they can't find excellence in what they do. You're proof that no matter how busy you are, how new to running, what your healthy history is, how many kids need your attention, or how much job changes affect your life - you CAN be excellent in all that you do! You've achieved so much, and I know I gain a lot of inspiration from reading your blog. Keep it up!

Nicole said...

Love you and love this blog. You are an inspiration to all but there will always be jealous and ignorant people. I look forward to your posts whether they are running related or family related and I am glad you keep it real.

Rene' said...

Okay when I first saw the title and read the first lines I thought that you were going to say you were going to stop blogging. I am glad that you are aren't. I read all of your posts and find you so inspiring. As far as negative comments people are ridiculous. Why be jealous of someone else? What does someone gain by being mean to someone? I say just keep on keepin' on Erin. I think that you rock!

Loren said...

Hitch your wagon to a star. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your blogging and your journey is an inspiration, thanks for letting us come too.

Mark Matthews said...

Writing is walking into public and pulling your pants down. It's that nightmare you had as a child going to school in your underwear. It's sticking a knife in your heart and spilling it all right on the stage.

Best to you in Jacksonville.

Alice said...

I have truly enjoyed your blog. I always come to read and get inspired by you. Reading your blog was one of the reasons that got me to start blogging as well. You truly are supermom. When I don't feel like lacing up my shoes, I open up your blog and always get motivated to get off my butt and get out there or onto the treadmill :) Keep on writing as I'm sure I like many of your fans look forward to your next entry. Thank you for sharing.

Kristin said...

I would LOVE to meet whoever thinks they have a right to be negative about you; caring mom, adopting children who need to be cared for beyond an average child, putting hard work into your sport...I hate to pass judgement, but those who judge others for right doing often do it out of their insecurity. You are BRAVE and I applaud you!!!

greengirlrunning said...

You are one of the most inspiring people I have ever *met*! I feel sorry for anyone with negative thoughts, feelings or comments about you because they are missing out on being a part of an incredible person's journey. I am truly grateful to have found your blog and I am SO happy to be able to work with you. "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can't even imagine how many lives you have touched, but mine is definitely one of them. I'm glad you're continuing with your blog!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Ummmmmmmm your blog changed my life cause I met one of the kindest, most loving, generous, beautiful souls on earth....YOU! I get it, though...but I also know that the detractions aren't personal. If people weren't judging you (for adoption or running issues or WHATEVER), those same people would be judging others. It isn't personal, even though I know it feels like it. The ones who get my back up are those who are disingenuous in their support for you. Fortunately, they are few and far between. I am so glad you signed on and started this blog two years ago...I can't even tell you. Love you chica and see you in four days!!!

coach dion said...

We are all different, and while I go out for a training run 13.1miles and cover the distance in 90min, some people think that is amazing, I think I was a bit sluggish and should be running faster. I'm not a fast runner, but I have friends who run 62min for a half while other people have friends who can't break 2h30 for a half.

I read your story and love that you want to challenge yourself to many runners out there just don't know how to hurt in their training and because of that will alway be left wanting at the finish line. Running dreams come with hard work. and if any of those detractors read your blog they will know you are putting in the hard work, so dream on and aim big...

SWMom said...

I love your blog! It's my favorite busy Mom running blog! I find you a great source of encouragement and running tips and tricks. I just finished my first 6 miler since my knee surgery and it was a BREEZE (amazingly!). I'm looking forward to 4 or 5 10K's and maybe my first 1/2 this year! Best wishes for a great race next week!

Corey said...

I am so glad that you didn't say that you are going to stop sharing your journey. I don't comment much but I get every post in my reader and I am rooting for you! I truly hope that you achieve your goals and I get excited to read as you taper and get ready for a big race! Good luck at Tallahassee! There are lots of us out here rooting for you, even some that you don't know about :)

Terzah said...

Well, I hope you don't think I'm a big ol' quitter because I'm not blogging any more. I promise I'm not quitting the running goal--just the blogging. :^)

I second what everyone above said--you need to keep blogging because your quest is compelling to many, keeps you yourself going (and also, unlike my goal, what you're shooting for is unique in the blog world--it's a great story unfolding as we speak).

As for your family...well, you know your family is awesome. And that is all!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

I am so glad you are continuing to share your story because it is a story of strength. :)

Amy N. said...

Although there are some negative people out there I love that most people are kind and have good intentions. Your blog is great, thanks for sharing your story!

Bill Fine said...

Erin, I simply cannot fathom how ANYONE could have anything negative to say about you. Your running life is an inspiration to all of us, even an old plow horse like me, but it's your personal story that's even more amazing. What you and your family have done and continue to do is amazing....even though I don't really KNOW you, I'm so glad to "know" you through our blogs!

Christina Williams said...

I'm so glad you were out there otherwise I would never have found you :) But I understand all your sentiments here. You know, one of my "BFF girlfriend runners" is actually in the Air Force, has no blog, and is a really good marathon runner. (We go back to the high school years.) She encourages me so much in private, yet the whole social media and blogosphere has no clue who she is. And she's a "momma runner" too. I just wish she lived closer to me *sigh* She is the one who will try to get in to the Marine Corps with me, actually she's the one who has encouraged me to do so. I love being able to read stories like yours and I just can't imagine those who dish out 'negative feedback' are feeling good about themselves. Hopefully the good feedback always outweighs the negative in the end. :)

Jill said...

Erin,
Thanks for blogging anyway, even though it can be difficult sometimes. I find a lot of inspiration through your blog and am amazed at how far you've come and look forward to see how you will do in the future. I'm one of the lucky ones to actually "know" you, though not that well, but I can still vouch for the great person that you are. Funny to think that we could have been training partners when I lived in SV, but neither of us were that into running yet. And I'm never going to be able to run the SV half because it always falls on the busiest weekend of the year for me. Bummer. Anyways...good luck in Tallahassee! I look forward to your report.

Cindy said...

thanks for posting this...i've thought this many times. i love to write and to be able to talk about my passions is great...but it does open myself to criticism, which can be hurtful. it doesn't stop me from blogging, but sometimes i do find myself editing what i would normally say freely because of who reads my blog.

Raina said...

I can't imagine spending my time going around reading other people's blogs to leave hateful comments or to criticize. That would just leave my heart feeling rotten!
At times I want to be more private. It feels safer- but there is less reward in it.
I hope you know how much I admire you and your lifestyle, the fact you take on so much and are willing to let others see into your life. It's evidence that God is at work in human lives.

hugs, sister!

misszippy said...

I think it's a bit like racing, really. You have to be vulnerable to accomplish a race goal--putting your efforts and hopes into training with no real guarantee of payoff. The blogging world is similar--we put ourselves out there in hopes of receiving the satisfaction of writing and relating with others. Doesn't always work out that way, but like you said: the good outweighs the bad.

Suz and Allan said...

I find it so hard to believe that anyone could say anything unkind about you. You're so selfless, driven, and caring!

lindsay said...

no matter what we do or don't do, there will always be someone out there with the opposite opinion or quick to judge. hopefully there will always be more good people out there than the critiquing. i used to get a little jealous when blog friends would PR (while still being proud of them and happy for them!) but i've grown out of that. well, i do still wish i could run their times :)