Welcome to day #4 in the 30 Day “One Question” Series. If you want to learn more about the series, be sure to check out the first interview.
When I originally stumbled across Ellie Di Julio, she was known as the Headologist. Charmed with the name of the site and the magnetic picture of the person on the main page, I bookmarked it to explore later.
Fast forward two years… and imagine my surprise when I clicked on headologist.com to find this name “Ellie Di” staring me in the face. For a moment I thought I’d landed at the wrong place but then I read the most recent post and discovered that I’d managed to “rediscover” Ellie Di right at the time she decided to relaunch her site.
The honest vulnerability and gutsy courage of that post cemented my love for Ellie Di.
(Of course, it also helped that her new self-assigned title was “self-rediscovering storyteller.” Ya’ll should know by now, I’m nothing if not a sucker for a good story!)
One of the things this interview series has done is made me stretch my definition of creative. As a writer, Ellie Di is–technically–a creative. It’s not her writing, however, that made me want to include her in this series.
What I love and admire about this young woman is her spirit. She’s a woman who is willing to take risks and test her own boundaries in order to grow. This willingness to test boundaries is what I decided was the key property for inclusion in the “One Question” series and it is a property that Ellie Di has in spades.
She also has the cojones to share all the nitty-gritty, not-always-perfect details of her journey publicly on her blog, for all the world to see. (With no ALIAS!)
Case in point, the day I chose to contact her to request an interview, Ellie Di had just published another amazing, courageously touching post entitled “Dayjob: The Disappointment of Dreams Deferred.” After reading this poignant post, I knew it would be the foundation of my one question for her:
How do you feel your public vulnerability has influenced your creative work and what suggestions or advice would you offer to other creatives who may struggle with the desire to allow more of their full self to show through their creative work?
I’m a natural over-sharer, which makes it hard to give advice on writing with vulnerability because it comes easily to me. (It’s hard to explain breathing, for example, because you just do it.) But I’ve rummaged around in the idea enough to come up with a single, solitary gem. It’s one of those things that’s devastatingly simple – almost more frustrating than initial struggle.
The secret to putting yourself into your creative work is to have no shame.
We all have dark secrets and embarrassing moments we would rather keep out of the light. The light is where people see us! If we tell our hidden stories, especially ones we’re conditioned to be ashamed of, people will know who we are! On the inside!
It’s a terrifying thought because cracking yourself open in public is an intimate act, regardless of if it’s in a conversation, on a canvas, or on a page. With intimacy comes the risk of rejection; “the more someone sees of my dark places,” you think, “the more likely they are to judge, reject, and abandon me.”
That fear never goes away. It’s scary as hell to draw attention to something that’s hurting you or isn’t socially acceptable or will start a fight. When you roll over to show your soft underbelly, there’s every possibility of getting hurt, so we err on the side of caution and don’t share. But that lets the fear win.
So fuck it, right?
Publicly sharing your vulnerable, mortifying, controversial, and flat-out ugly stories is an act of bravery with rewards far greater than the security of giving in to fear. Because when you speak from your deepest, most real Self, a magical thing happens.
People listen. People raise their hands and say, “Me, too!” People fucking applaud.
Whether your story reaches one person or seven billion, your story is important. Especially the ones you’re afraid to tell. They reveal the world as not such a lonely place after all. They give us support from others – a tribe bonded by experience. And, most importantly of all, they show us the truth of our own experience so we don’t feel alone anymore.
Your story is my story is our story.
That’s how you put yourself out there: by reminding yourself there’s at least one person who understands. There are too many people carrying too many stories inside them for it to be otherwise. And your reward for facing the fear and telling your story is finding a tribe of people who absolutely fucking get it.
Every time I publish something that’s raw and revealing, I get sweaty palms and second (and third) thoughts. But 99% of the time, I do it anyway because I’m confident that whatever I have to say will be seen by someone who needs to hear it. When I’m vulnerable in my work, I’m helping myself by processing my deep darkness and helping others to understand their own. Knowing that fuels me to keep writing and sharing, even if there are haters, even if I’m misunderstood, even if no one responds.
No one can tell your story like you can.
No one can tell my story like I can.
And if we share our stories together, not only do we reap the rewards of bravery, we also discover there was nothing to be ashamed of in the first place.
Ellie Di, in her own words, is
“a Self-rediscovering storyteller, perpetual wanderer, compulsive scribbler, spiritual nomad, compassionate critical thinker, and master of the delicious mess. She believes there’s no “done” in the work of growth; we’re always unfolding, expanding, spiraling. By writing the story of her life – past, present, and future – she’s shining light on her Self and her world so she can be fully present in it.”
It occurred to me this morning that weekends are low blog traffic days and I’d hate for ya’ll to miss an interview because I posted it on a Saturday or Sunday… not to mention, I’d hate for any of my guests to feel short-changed! With that in mind, I’ll be extending the run of the interviews to make up for the fact that I’ll only publish them Monday – Friday.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for other creatives you’d like to see me feature–just add ‘em down below in the comments!