16 March 2014

Let's Talk Shame, Authenticity, & Vulnerability

Bloggers have been talking about authenticity for quite a while – years, in fact. I'm late to the game. There've been discussions about personal versus public spheres, the perception of perfection, creating a "real" space or an "honest" space or a "professional" or "happy" space, conversations about filtering one's thoughts and creating a virtual persona.

I wonder, sometimes, what my readers think of me. (After all, I have only ever met one of you in person.) I wonder what kind of person I represent here – what or whom I've created, unconsciously, in this space over the past five years. I wonder if I have been true to myself, as I currently am, or who I want to be.. or perhaps they are both me, or perhaps I can never be defined in such simple terms, either online or in person.

I have for a long time felt that exposing my flaws would chase others away, whether in romantic relationships or friendships, or here.

Well, screw that.
I am who I am.

And I am making a change this year: I want to break down the walls I've built as protection, and I want the light to come streaming in.

I'm human. I get angry. I can be extremely messy. I curse. I don't do laundry as often as I should I go weeks without doing laundry. I am an impulse buyer. I don't cry often, but when I do, it's an all-day affair. I am liberal. I take medications. I have days when I do nothing more than surf Pinterest and eat popcorn.

But you know what I'm most hesitant to tell people? That I live at home.
Yes, I am nearly 26 years old and I still live with my mother. Cue all the social stigma, the late-night-show jokes, the images of stereotyped 30-year-old "losers" who have never had girlfriends.

That's me. Sort of.

But stripped of all that subjective guilt and heavy imagery weighing me down, I am a college graduate – with, yes, tens of thousands of student loan debt – who wants nothing more than to have a liveable salary and a steady job (preferably with an organization I support) and an apartment of her own. And a cat. Oh, and that le boyfriend be granted a visa so we can eliminate the "long distance" prefix of our relationship. But you know.

I guess what I'm saying is that life is sometimes really hard. We feel alone and think we're failures, or that our best just isn't good enough. We have big dreams that we keep close to our hearts because it hurts too much to hope. We come home from work exhausted, feeling unappreciated, knowing that tomorrow the same old s--- is going to happen all over again. And we dream of a vacation but just keep pressing on because what else can you do?

Oh, darling, I see you. I see you not because I know all the answers or how the journey will end, but because I am right there with you. I see how hard you try. I see you get up, bruised and bloodied, after being knocked down once again by life's unfair and unexpected blows. I understand. I know.

And I think that this is what makes us human – all the ups and downs and disappointment and pressing on anyway. I think we all struggle, even the most perfect of the perfect, from celebrities and bloggers to us normal folk. We all have awful, sucky days (or months.. or years). And we're going to get through it. Together.

So chin up, baby. Forget what others think and be who you are, because it's hard enough trying to manage normal life (taxes, relationships, jobs, etc. etc.) without trying to invent and maintain some fantasy you. We, the ordinary, are going to accomplish amazing things. Just you wait and see.


Emie58 said...

"I have days when I do nothing more than surf Pinterest and eat popcorn." You aren't alone... some days I can't even be bothered to pop the popcorn and instead open a box of cereal and eat it dry. I have to agree with you... if your life is working for you now... who cares what anyone else says. It's *YOUR* life! You have a plan and dreams that you're working towards... THAT is the important part. Thanks for sharing.

Erica said...

I'm pushing 30 and I don't know how to drive. So there's that. I wish I had the financial security of living at home.

Naomi Hattaway said...

I'm way older than you and I still don't have it figured out or perfected and your last 3-4 paragraphs made me teary. Vulnerability is something so few of us girls share with each other, even though we talk about it all of the time.

Signed, sometimes bloodied and bruised, but still showing up.

nacherluver said...

I knew you were young. Somehow figured you lived at home. Knew you were an honest, gentle soul. Never judged you for any of it. Heck, what's there to judge? Sounds pretty awesome! Of course that is merely a judgment in the positive direction!
I was going to say a bunch of stuff in response to your post but my thought train just dove off the track. Alas, there is a bit of honesty for you. My thoughts are often messy. Part of my fibro. Part of PTSD. Part of a busy life.
I am also much older than you and even though I have always known one shouldn't worry about what others think (judge), it has taken me a lot (A LOT) longer to get to a place of actually practicing that non-care. I still struggle. I teach my kids right but struggle myself.
I think it's beautiful you still live at home. You're being responsible about your debt load, it shows you have a good, solid family, there is love there, and you are doing what you feel right despite what others may see as wrong. I hope my kids don't fall to the social stigmas. They can stay with me as long as they want/need to.
Signing off this scattered comment.

kathleen rose said...

I'm 26 and I'm living at home too. I wish there was no shame to living with your parents - there shouldn't be - but there is. I was on my own for a few years after I graduated from college but now I'm back at home. I'm getting an associate's degree to be able to do what I really want to do. It will take another year. Yet I want exactly what you want : "nothing more than to have a liveable salary and a steady job (preferably with an organization I support) and an apartment of her own. " The waiting is hard. I know it will come. But it's difficult in the meantime.

I just identify with a lot of what you write here, (as we are all human and imperfect) and the last bit is beautifully expressed.


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