Last week, I posted – very much accidentally – a live video on my Facebook profile. The “how” of it is not a great story, let’s just say it was meant for my writing community, as a response to a particular challenge, and that when my entire news feed was filled with people posting to the writing community, my brain told me I was already there. So I went ahead and went “live” and it wasn’t until my dear Tara “liked” the video that I realized I’d made a mistake.
Apparently, I don’t go outside my comfort zone much anymore, because what I experienced was a nearly foreign rush of complete alarm, and a level of shock that didn’t subside for hours in spite of taking the video down right away. It felt like exposure, or like I’d been found out.
Why is that?
Why is it that I had such a strong reaction, even though I was still only “in front of” a very limited number of people, all of whom I’m fairly certain would want only the best for me? Why would that feel like I was way out on a limb? Why was I so afraid to own my own words so thoroughly, even for just two minutes?
I think I’ve gotten a little bit used to anonymity.
I thought I was going outside my comfort zone posting these blogs. My intent certainly was to, but it turns out, I’ve kept them kind of cushy. I know, of course, that you’ve all cracked my very secret code. I post them to my Facebook page, I’m certainly not trying to hide… or so I thought. I’m realizing now, though, it still feels just a little bit anonymous, and a little bit edited, and I can throw some pretty pictures on there to distract myself.
I’ve never really known what I want to do with my life. I thought that at some point, some sort of purpose would appear, that I would know it when I saw it. More than three decades in, I’ve had some seasons that felt very purposeful, but nothing has “stuck.” Nothing has provided that sort of long-term vision I kept thinking I would eventually find. It makes me feel like a mistake. I cling to the stories of people who were in their 40’s before they found their calling because it makes me feel like I have time. In the meantime, it’s been making me antsy and anxious, and that makes me want to hide. Makes me want to stay anonymous.
I went to church on Sunday, for the first time in a long time. The priest at my grandmother’s church is sweet and kind. He strikes me as being invested in the human experience, such as it is, but with a desire to infuse that experience with as much grace as he can. He looks me in the eye, and tells me “May the peace of God be with you always.” And it wrecks me, because most days, what I feel is anything but peace. I know I’ve gone off track. It’s not just that though – It unnerves me when someone looks me in the eye. Nowhere to hide. Nothing anonymous about it.
What if it’s not so much that I want to be anonymous to the world, as perhaps…I’ve been trying to be anonymous to myself. Maybe I edit, and polish, and decorate, as a way of running from myself. Hiding from myself. It’s not that I don’t want to own my words in front of you, I just don’t want to own them at all. They become too real when I own them. I worry about being mis-interpreted or mis-understood, or worse, that I will be understood but that you won’t like what you see.
If we’re being honest, I wish I could be more edited in real life sometimes. Not all the times – sometimes I love my ability to say what needs to be said when no one else wants to say it – but sometimes I have a small breakdown, or say something I don’t really mean, or get a little snippy and wish I hadn’t, and I wish I could delete. Put something more winsome there. Something kinder and gentler, or more worthwhile. I wish the real me weren’t such a messy chick.
Do you feel, sometimes, like you want to stay hidden? Or like you want to edit yourself? Are there ways you’ve grown in allowing your real self to be seen? Are there seasons when it’s OK, or even wise, to stay hidden?