Unabashed Authenticity

Show & Tell was an activity we learned in our earliest school years. It was a way for classmates and teachers to get to know us a little bit better. To see us in a broader context. To know the passions and talents that resound from within us.
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As a writer, we learn the important difference between “telling” and “showing”. We want to draw readers in, and let them experience the story through the eyes of the characters, rather than us simply dictate the meaning and emotion of each interaction.
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But “Show & Tell” can take a different form in our everyday lives. Instead of revealing various layers of ourselves to friends and colleagues, we can actually use our words and actions to do the opposite. We hide. We conceal. We disappear.
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Whether in the workplace, at church, or in our social media circles, we can find ourselves unconsciously working to become noticed, and yet invisible. We attempt to build relationships, without relating. Instead of trying to be the best version of ourselves, we try to portray the best version. A virtual self-image. Through tweets, photos, anecdotes, and blog posts, we can consistently put our best foot forward, and by doing so, only reveal an unbalanced view of our true selves.
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An image that we can’t possibly live up to.
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When I unwittingly construct this pedestal, I can no longer relate to people from an honest viewpoint. When I see people as followers, instead of friends, I create a gossamer partition that distorts my ability to relate to others. When I see people as an audience, rather than colleagues, I lose my ability to articulate authentically.
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But only statues live on pedestals, and I can’t live up to the pretenses of what I think others believe I should be.
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I try to be the best version of myself, but even at my best, I am flawed. I am fallen. I am fractured.
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I don’t live a life worthy of a pedestal, but flesh and blood is much more relatable than marble. When I write about this life, I want to be authentic. When I tweet or post, I want to be genuine. Because I’m not writing to followers, but to friends. I’m not writing to appeal to an audience, but to reflect on a life. And while I’m deeply grateful for the life I’ve been given, I often lose sight of the blessings. I often lose focus of the big picture. And during these times, I keep writing, because I need to reflect. I need to wrestle. I need to understand the human condition.
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So if you got this far reading my rambling, I guess I’m saying thank you. I’m grateful that I can be flawed, fallen, and fractured – and still be accepted as a friend. I’m grateful that as I strive to be the best version of myself, I don’t have to construct a false version. Show & Tell is always better when it’s authentic.
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5 thoughts on “Unabashed Authenticity

  1. Well said, friend! 🙂 I thought of our conversation the other day when a dear friend of mine got stuck finishing her daughter’s homemade prom dress hours before prom because her daughter didn’t have time. She was seething, having been promised by her daughter that she wouldn’t get her mother involved (her mother, my friend, is an extremely busy teacher, mom, and artist). She was sending our group of friends scathing messages about how mad she was. We commiserated with her and told her college is coming soon! 😉 How I laughed when, on Facebook a couple hours later, she posted pictures of her daughter in the masterpiece and how talented and amazing her daughter was for making her own dress. Ha! I know she wouldn’t have put how she really felt on Facebook for all to see, but it was the perfect example of how we clean up our lives and put our best up on social media. I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who would have appreciated the truth! And this is just a little thing. There are bigger, messier problems that we cover up with smiling faces and glowing statuses. I know we can’t put ALL the real truth out there all the time, but a little dosage would be healthy, and we DEFINITELY should be real with those we trust!

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  2. Another thoughtful piece. It’s hard to be authentic online. I’ve lost friends because of posts I’ve written on my blog. Writing for myself rather than an audience feels more satisfying and when I write things that are a bit bare or raw, it feels scary in ways that I know must be good for me. I’m firmly a fan of showing one’s warts and shedding the artifice. Keep shedding!

    Liked by 1 person

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