Forces of Inspiration + The Fear of Narcissism
What with the continuance of my weird week, I wasn’t sure if I would end up publishing anything today. However, with attempted grace and resilience, I am determined to stay consistent.
It seems like a lot of my blog posts inadvertently turn out to be self-reminders. Reminders to stay loving, to stay resilient, value female friends, stop fearing fraudulence. If it weren’t for the lovely comments and responses I have been getting lately, there is a real possibility that I would feel like I am talking to myself.
With this possibility in mind, sometimes an unwanted question starts to sneak its way in. Is writing constantly week after week about one’s personal experiences and thoughts egotistical? Or does it contribute to something bigger?
Every time I hit publish on a post, there’s a teeny voice in my head squealing about how everyone is going to think I’m a big inflated narcissist. I believe the same fear is also linked to working in the arts since more than a handful of artists tend to have notorious reputations for being self-involved.
My fear of being perceived as an egomaniac blogger and/or artist flare up from time-to-time, often when I am writing something more vulnerable or choreographing a particularly personal dance piece. In these situations I do what I always do when I need artistic counsel- I turn to my parents. I am not sure if I have expressed enough how lucky I feel to have two parents who are deeply creative souls and unapologetically make a living from their art. Whenever I am in any kind of creative rut or dilemma, I almost immediately send them a frantic message and ask for counsel.
At one point when I was redesigning and reimagining this website, I had a talk with my mom about my fear of narcissism in writing about my own life. I have vowed to always keep her response in mind. She said, “Ruby, just look at who you mention frequently on your blog- whose work you admire." The list includes Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and all of these other women who have made careers and inspired millions by sharing their stories with the world. Many of them have also been accused of being self-involved, but the fact is, they empower other women with their experiences and the way they reflect and write about them.
I couldn’t believe I had never connected those dots before, but these women that I look up to, quote, and read about frequently are all women who have an equal amount of vulnerability and strength in the way they tell their stories, becoming powerful forces of inspiration for others. This is exactly what I aspire to achieve, as humbly as possible. What else can we really do as creatives? We stay curious, soak up information and observations, and use our unique point of view of the world to encourage and inspire.
As I type at this very moment, the most coincidental thing has happened.
I was quite literally just texting my mom about writers block (this has been a hard post to push out today) and she sent me an article on Medium that she thought I would find interesting and it happens to speak directly to what I started writing about here. I think we have a sort of family mind-meld, even from across the Atlantic. This article by Josh Spilker is about changing the definition of self-promotion from empty exclamations to “Sharing inspiring ideas. Creating a bigger vision. Getting other people excited about what you’re excited about.” Self-promotion without narcissism.
This is exactly what blogging should do. This is what writing should do. What art should do. This is why I will defend until I’m blue in the face the fact that writing blogs and making art is not inherently narcissistic. We do and share what we love and as long as we do it with authenticity and openness, we can create more forces of inspiration without the ego getting in the way.