If you could see the you that I see…
As a self-professed very private/guarded person, a fascinating aspect of choosing to chronicle the realities of life for all to see is that many of my friends and readers have said to me variations of, ‘Given that I don’t really know you well… it’s very interesting to be allowed into your thoughts and experiences.’
These kinds of comments, understandably, come from people whom I really don’t know all that well. But they also come from people whom I personally consider close friends.
The Rarity of Revealing
Every time I hear such comments, I also ask myself (and now others), ‘Why is it a noteworthy exception when we choose to share rather than guard, bury, and hide who we really are, how we really feel, what our shadows look like, and what makes us feel broken and jagged? Why do we notice when someone is open and honest rather than doing something about that troubled feeling we have when someone is closed off and disingenuous?’
This journey of honesty and revelation has always been particularly tough for me. I reflect on all my old workplaces and think about how little my colleagues knew about my personal life, especially in comparison to how much I knew about their lives. I think of friends and lovers who have commented on my reservedness, the ‘walls I put up’, and my ability to always turn a conversation back to questions for them. People at parties often say they ‘really enjoyed our chat’ and I think, ‘That’s because I got you talking about yourself the whole time and most people like that. What did you learn about me?’
These forms of deflecting attention from myself are ingrained behaviors. I still struggle mightily sharing more of myself with others–which explains both why writing is a safe haven for me (I’m ‘telling all’ while looking at a glowing rectangular screen and not someone’s inquisitive eyes) but also how, by writing for the world to see, I am opening up more than I would through my conversations, speaking, and teaching.
But that doesn’t answer my question: why do we celebrate openness rather than treating it as that which we all can and should do? If we don’t share, open up, and be honest, we bury, file away, and let who we really are fester inside. The world is awash with people rotting away internally and lashing out externally as a way to cope with their inability to be authentic.
Who else thinks we should do something about that?