“You have to have a place of your own to take the kind of risks necessary for intellectual development.”

BASE jump by Xof711 (CC BY-SA 3.0).

There are a lot of things to love about Professor Tressie McMillan Cottom — her excellent blog, her commitment to the classroom, her candid Twitter feed, her thought-provoking pieces in magazines like the Atlantic, and, of course, our recent Discover interview with her.

I was particularly drawn to something she said about why she continues blogging despite having many other avenues for publishing her writing:

I have had wonderful invitations, relationships, and access afforded me by incredible publications. I do not take that for granted. But, as my mother always told me, “If the lease isn’t in your name, you’re homeless.” You have to have a place of your own to take the kind of risks necessary for intellectual development.

It’s almost like a gauntlet being thrown, n’est-ce pas? Let’s take it up! If you’re a blogger, you have a digital place of your own. This week, publish a post that takes a risk.

This doesn’t mean that you need to post photo evidence of a swim with sharks or that you have to spill your deepest family secrets, and you can certainly write a post or share an image simply inspired by the word “risk.” But I’d push you to go further: to allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable, and to post something you’re not 110% comfortable with.

Your first try at poetry, or at sketching. A photo you love, but that you’re not sure quite works. A post that takes a different angle than your blog usually does. An essay on an idea you’ve been tossing around, but worry will upset people.

I basically blog for a living, and I’m still frequently nervous hitting “publish” — like with this post last week, or this one from last year, which was downright scary to share. They were both worth the fear.

These kinds of risks are scary but valuable; they help us develop our points of view, push our creativity, and grow our confidence with what we publish. And it’s often in moments of vulnerability — which comes hand in hand with risk — that we make the most meaningful connections with other people.

This week, take a chance. Take a deep breath, publish, and see what happens next.


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