On Being Vulnerable Online

So… I kinda forgot that being vulnerable literally makes you vulnerable.

In the “if you reveal a weakness, people will poke at it” sense.

It’s not all “being honest about your own struggles will help you strengthen your relationships with other people and the world,” even though that’s the message you might take away from the TED Talk.

It’s also understanding (and accepting?) that people are going to refer to you as the personal finance writer who tanked her business due to her own financial ignorance.

And that’s both true and not true.

I’m also the personal finance writer who tried something new, realized she was in over her head, and quit before she lost a bunch of money.

Or the second entity to stop running The Billfold in just over a year.

I could have announced The Billfold’s closure in a way that made it sound like I hadn’t made any mistakes — one of those standard “going to pursue other opportunities” things. You would have known that wasn’t the real reason, because we all know what that particular line of text means, but I would have wrapped myself in boilerplate armor.

I could also have announced The Billfold’s closure in a way that placed the blame far away from me. It wasn’t my fault, I got bad advice! It’s true that I operated for most of the year under a particular set of assumptions and then learned that the majority of those assumptions were wrong, and it’s also true that those assumptions did not come fully-sprung out of my head. In some cases I did get bad advice. In others I didn’t know the questions I was supposed to ask, and so I didn’t get the answers I needed.*

But the two faults at the center of everything — my not talking to a lawyer or CPA before setting up the LLC, and my not bringing in enough money to support myself and the site simultaneously — are mine.

So I’m going to be honest about that, which is vulnerable in both the good way and the bad way.

Because it’s hard to admit to the world that you failed at something.

Some people will say “it’s all right.”

And other people will say “yep, you sure did.”

*I do plan on writing a piece about “the questions you should ask before setting up a business,” because the best thing I can do right now is share what I learned.

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