I was perusing my social media sites a little bit earlier. I do that from time to time, look back at the past several weeks, especially when I get an influx of new followers or friends. I try to look at things as an outsider would. I know that sometimes I’m kind of a weirdo, and I don’t want to scare people away too quickly.
Here’s what I noticed, and please forgive my vanity for a moment.
I look really great on paper. (I know. *eye roll* Stick with me.)
I have a great job. I work with kids. Some really tough kids. And according to social media, I do it with a smile and a snarky quip 95% of the time. I volunteer through my organization. I have a successful second career in writing, with some really exciting things going on. I love to sing, I am well-read, I have a master’s degree, I’m out more evenings that I’m in.
Okay. Done puking?
The above paragraph only tells a small percentage of the story. It’s an overly shiny facade that tries to distract from the real person underneath. The one with the messy bits. Heck, the one MADE of messy bits.
I do love my job, but for every entertaining kid anecdote, I have ten instances of frustrating phone calls, DHS referrals, and stories so heavy that I sometimes have to take a few minutes to just lay my head on my desk between sessions to try to recover. There are days when I can’t imagine hearing about another kid in pain, and just want to stay home, and then I remember how very selfish that is, because it’s not even my pain.
I am a permanent mixture of excitement and anxiety over writing (which I’m pretty sure is the typical writer personality). While celebrating one milestone, I’m already gnawing my fingernails with anxiety over whether my next step will live up to what I’ve already done. The writing part of my brain is a constant ticker tape of “What if what if what if…”
I haven’t been able to sing in public for a year and a half. I haven’t opened a book in a week. Half the time I want to cancel all the plans I’ve made to sit at home and play Mahjong. My apartment is a disaster more often than it’s clean. I’m late everywhere I go. I am unbelievably disorganized. I eat my feelings, when I have them. I am ridiculously lazy.
Why am I admitting all of this? Honestly, it seemed like a good idea when I started this post, and now I’m starting to second-guess myself. I have been told more than once recently that my life must be so easy. That everything I want just seems to happen. That I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to struggle, to long for things I can’t have, to work hard and never see the fruits of my labor. And why do people think this about me?
Because I’ve told them that’s how it is. Because I only want to share the shiny pieces of my life. Those are the parts that people want to see, right? They don’t want to see the messy bits, the struggles, the crippling despair at times. And because that is my perception, I’ve learned to turn off my feelings, ignore the messiness of life.
Last month I began attending a new church. And for the first time in a long time, I really started to feel again. To realize that maybe people can accept me, messy bits and all. In general, I am pretty quiet about my faith. It’s very personal to me, and I’ve been hurt pretty badly in the past by churches. My previous church had begun the healing process before it closed, and now I have hope that this new church will help me continue. To accept all parts of myself, even the messy bits, and know that others will as well.
So many of you reading this have been with me through a lot of stuff, and I thank God for putting you in my life. I hope you’ll continue to stick with me. To those who already know some of my messy bits, thank you. I make no promises that I will be any less shiny online. But know that it’s not the entire picture.
And to those who are afraid to show your messy bits…I’m there with you. I love you. Even the messy bits.
(Virtual hugs to anyone who tells me how many times I used “messy bits” in this post.)