Vulnerability is creative strength

December 13, 2019
Bethany Rucinski Senior Copywriter

3 ways to free yourself from limitations

Have you ever felt stuck? Maybe you wanted to try something new, but the risks were holding you back. Or, maybe you had an unconventional idea, but the obstacles and fear of acceptance paralyzed your progress.

This in-between place — this spot between the old and the new — is called liminal space. It can be messy. It can feel hopeless. You can feel useless and uncertain. But, it’s a time of great discovery and growth, if you can embrace it. This is how we breakthrough to get to that great creative space for campaign development.



Liminal space was a new phrase for me. But in September, Story 2019 developed an entire conference around it. It may have been a new phrase, but it was a very familiar space.

There I was with a community of storytellers from dozens of professions gathering in Nashville to learn how to be a better storyteller. I didn’t expect that facing my own fears was the first step in tapping into new, profound healthcare writing.

This might sound like it has nothing to do with healthcare marketing, but it probably has more to do with it than a lot of other areas. Because everyone needs healthcare and one person’s health journey often creates liminal space for many people at the same time. With health, we rely on so many people to come together for our physical and emotional health — it requires us to overcome together. Never alone.

And that is exactly what happened to me.



I came into the Story conference a little fragile.

My nephew had a second embolization of a large, abnormal tangle of blood vessels in his brain. The procedure went perfectly. But the effects of blood rerouting to the rest of his brain was the opposite of perfect. His brain vessels were so overwhelmed, it resulted in intense brain swelling. As a result, part of his skull was removed and eventually he needed to be in a drug-induced coma. By the time I left for the Story conference, the swelling had reduced, and he was taken off the coma medication.

Going into Story, I was drifting out of the old and into the new of a difficult healthcare journey. But let’s be honest, like most people, I have several different liminal spaces going on at the same time. However, this one was the most intense.

Our personal “in-between” times impact every part of our lives, including our work — our passion. But recognizing these crossroads and leaning into it inspires powerful results.



For two days, more than 20 incredible people walked across the stage at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Story speakers, like the writer of legendary Disney stories, including “Beauty and the Beast,” and an actor and singer from “Hamilton,” shared their most vulnerable liminal spaces.

The emotional journey at Story is difficult to explain. Instead, I’ll share a few of the most important messages that rise to the top.

Fall in love with every project. This was a concept my mother inadvertently taught me years ago. To do that, I start with research. Understanding the brand and those that consume the brand is critical.

Our clients’ minds, experiences and perspective are invaluable to this process. The more I understand all these stories, I fall deeper in love, which allows me to better communicate the brand. And ultimately, I’m able to show the world why they want to fall in love with the brand, too.

For me, some of the most difficult stories to fall in love with are the ones that are the most simple and direct. For example, one of our healthcare partners wanted to communicate direct messages about patient satisfaction and easy access. I ended up falling in love with our clients’ refreshing, devil-may-care approach to healthcare storytelling. We decided to commiserate with consumers about healthcare woes, like the painful process of finding a doctor you love or jumping through hoops to get an appointment, but in a playful way.

We need each other. There are a lot of “I” statements in the previous two paragraphs. But don’t get me wrong: to make breakthrough creative, it takes a village.

We all bring different life experiences and values to every project. Those personal belief systems influence ideas. The more perspectives we have, the greater our ideas can grow. From our healthcare partners, client engagement and project management to social, digital, media and creative, everyone is invaluable to ensure we’re telling the greatest stories.

On nearly every project I’ve worked on, there’s been liminal space. That’s probably true for most people. But, if you allow your team into your liminal space, they can help guide you through and find the magic in the unknown.

Confront and rise from your fears. Jon Acuff, a New York Times best-selling author and a brand storyteller for leading brands around the world, said that instead of thinking you’re an expert, think like a tourist.

Tourists embrace taking a wrong turn, reveal vulnerabilities to strangers and happily collect opinions. To think like a tourist in our work, we need to ask questions. We need to make mistakes — welcome them, in fact. And we need to ask for help.

When we stop fears (like being judged, not being perfect or making a wrong decision) from sneaking in, we can let our minds run wild to make room for the most beautiful results.



I learned so many things about myself from Story. I embraced my liminal space and I’m invigorated.

I have a little, healthcare-inspired personal project in the works. I’m also so excited to spend every day alongside my incredibly talented team at Core and our inspiring healthcare partners, to tell passion-driven stories.

When we do this together — when we lean into our liminal spaces as a team — there’s no telling what we can create.


To see Core’s storytelling work in action for our healthcare clients visit Core Health – a website designed specifically for healthcare marketers.


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