I’ve been thinking about how everyone keeps calling me brave. Because my view of myself from the inside is often a bumbling, neurotic, insecure woman. There. It’s out there now. I’m actually a very insecure, nervous nelly! I overthink everything. I dissect what I say. What I do. What I wear. How I speak. All of it. I think one of the reasons I loved living in New York is that I blended in so easily with all the other neurotics.
Maybe this isn’t as big of surprise to you as I think it is. Perhaps it is.
Either way, I want to come clean. I want to come out of the insecurity closet and wear my neurosis proudly! Because, in the end, who the fuck isn’t insecure? Or questioning themselves all the time? One of the best things about being such an overly sensitive neurotic is that it makes me self-aware – some of the time too much, obviously – but a lot of the time, it allows me to sense someone’s sadness and ask if they are ok, inviting a heartfelt conversation. It allows me to think about each and every post and wonder: is this going to contribute to the Internet conversation in some meaningful way? Or is it just self-importance drivel?
Whatever it is does, it makes me ME. And I don’t want to hide anymore. I don’t want to pretend I’m someone that I’m not.
There are several reasons I rarely shared anything personal on social media prior to my triple cancer diagnosis. I’m actually a very private person. Also I didn’t “get” how social media works for a long time.
However, the main reason I kept things professional was because my “work” was my cloak. My armor against the world. I hid behind it when I felt anxious. I hid behind it when I wanted to avoid intimate entanglements. I hid behind it when I felt awkward and strange as “just me” in the world.
I loved telling people about my work because it was so much easier than telling them about myself.
Because I was afraid that if I shared even a tiny sliver, eventually you’d find out the truth. That I’m a geeky, insecure, weirdo whose head is often in the clouds.
And that felt unbearable.
But something has happened over the course of the last three years. Slowly, as I shared embarrassing details about my health and my broken heart over losing my old life, I’ve been cheered on by friends, colleagues, family, old boyfriends, traveling buddies, even friends of friends.
And it felt liberating.
The words flow fast and furious from my brain, my soul, or wherever they come from through my finger tips and land in a little Facebook post box. I’d click on POST and feel the anxiety rising inside of me.
Don’t do it! my Old Self would cry! Don’t let them SEE you! The world is a cruel place where you’ll be judged and criticized! The more they SEE you, the harder it will be to hide. Keep hiding! It’s so much safer that way!
The New Me looked on with detached amusement and calmly counter every argument: fuck it. Who cares. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s their own crap, it has nothing to do with you. And what IF the world sees the real you, ugly bits and weird parts and all? Is that the worst thing in the world? Wouldn’t it feel good to be truly KNOWN for whatever time you’re still left on this planet? And what if some of your words, some of your pain, insecurities, anxiety, strangeness somehow makes someone feel a little bit better about their own?
What if sharing the good, bad AND the ugly gives others permission to do the same?
What if it reminds others that regardless of how great someone’s life appears, we all feel pain, sadness, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, and confusion. We often focus on how we’re different. What if my words remind us that we’re actually a lot alike? Mere humans who feel a LOT of things beside the happiness we constantly seeÂ in our social media feeds.
Isn’t the ugly bits what makes us interesting anyway?
They’ve been duking it out over the past year since I put this site up. Back and forth, back and forth.
The New Me gaining in strength even as my body got weaker.
The pain wracking my physical body slowly stripping away the ego. Which, as you may have figured out by now, IS the voice of the Old Self.
That voice that tells us it’s better to hide our pain behind laughing photos on the beach.
The voice that tells us our crazy ideas will never work, why bother trying.
The voice that says we’re not good enough.
To show our real self to the world, let alone broadcast it through the Internet.
But then, I think, Fuck It.
Who cares. I’d rather be seen, entire self and all, and be jeered at by a few lonely trolls and cheered on by a handful of lovely readers than to hide out in my parents house by myself.
Because I can’t hide behind work anymore. Or, by jetting around the world. Or, packing my schedule so tight, I don’t have time to FEEL.
In the end, the idea of *actually* hiding in my parent’s basement, alone, while I try to get better sounds exponentially more terrifying than sharing my story with the public.
I might as well bare it all. And do it with a REAL smile on my face.
A smile that comes from truly being SEEN. And nothing else.