I wrote this post on Facebook over the weekend:
“Sometimes I get a little obsessive with songs, or poems, and I listen to them or read them, over and over, until I’ve got everything I can out of them, or they’ve at least sunk in.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah, Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder, and I love it, all of it, and I’ve got this verse playing on loop in my head, and in particular this line: “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”
Because I’ve realised I can.
Because being genuine – not betraying who I truly am, or my soul – might not make me the best person in the world, by some standards or rules, but it makes me the only one I’m happy to live with. Being fake – especially to myself – is just not an option. I’ve always been ok with that, but I’ve doubted it a little recently.
Earlier this year, I wrote a thing, and one of the lines in it was this: “People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.”
Because I’ve realised I am.
Even if that means disappointing another to be true to myself.
I really, really am.”
I do that kind of thing, sometimes – post a thought, or an opinion, occasionally a rant.
There’s no real rhyme or reason to what I post, other than feeling a certain way in a certain moment. It’s a free pour, out of my brain, to my little community of people, partly in the hope that some of the words might mean something to them – that they might help them, or inspire them, or at least make them think.
Sometimes other stuff happens instead.
Sometimes people don’t like what I write, or say.
Maybe it hits a nerve for them, or maybe it confronts (or more likely affronts) them.
I’m not sure.
This morning my phone rang and it was someone telling me they’d read my post, and that I was wrong. They told me all the reasons I was wrong. And then the reasons why I was selfish.
I chuckled, a bit. Mostly because I know I’m one of the least selfish people in the world, but paradoxically, and this was kind of the point of my post, I can also be terribly selfish, and I’m ok with that. I’m more than ok with that.
I know you’re not supposed to say that.
I know you’re supposed to say that you spend your entire life in service of others; of people, the greater good, of tasks and checklists. That you put everyone, and everything, first, and lag behind, hoping to catch a break or take a breath. And even if you know who or how you really are, I know you’re meant to deny it, and pretend. Pretend like you are that person you’re ‘supposed’ to be.
But I can’t do that.
I’ve never been wired to do that.
And if there’s anything I know, it’s that you’ve got to love yourself first.
For me, that means being true to who I am. Even if that means disappointing someone else. Even if that makes me selfish.
I am no good to anyone, or anything, any other way.
Today someone shared this Jane Caro article on Facebook, and I read it and nodded. It is much more important to be brave, than nice. And people are very afraid of offending others. And saying what they think. And none of that fazes me at all.
I definitely don’t ever intend to offend anyone, but if someone is a little disgruntled after reading something I’ve written, there’s not a single part of me that is concerned about that.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I can’t, and won’t, suppress my thoughts because they don’t align with someone elses.
Part of what I do, as a writer, means putting a fair bit of myself out there. And while there is a great deal that I haven’t yet written about (my childhood, my challenges, my pretty traumatic labour experience, to name a few), there is a lot that I have. And I know that if I want to be the best writer I can be – and, more importantly, be true to who I am – then I can’t filter my thoughts.
If I factored in every opinion, and expectation, I’d likely never write a thing.
And let’s be honest; writing is one of the most selfish, indulgent things you can do. Especially when it’s about yourself, or your life.
That people even read what I write still blows me away. With all the words in all the world, the fact that a small percentage of people read mine with what precious time they have is kind of incredible.
But I don’t really write for them. I write for me. And, I suspect, that’s part of the reason people keep coming back; because I’m not trying to be perfect – something I most definitely am not. I’m only trying, every day, to be the best me I can be. And I think sharing parts of who I am can maybe help other people be brave, or at least be themselves, unashamedly.
Something I’m conscious of is that not every story is my story – even the ones that do have a lot of me in them. And while I’ll always be true to myself, I’m aware that not everyone I cross paths with has signed up to have their life chronicled, or their thoughts aired, and I respect that, with every ounce of consideration I have.
But it’s ok for me to be raw, out there. To say, or write, the things I don’t think enough people do. I can handle the negative feedback and comments (and even the phone calls).
But I don’t think I can stomach the judgement.
I think people that say things that are truthful – even if those things aren’t necessarily pretty – shouldn’t be torn down, but maybe instead given a high-five, or at least a thumbs up.
Not because of any other reason than it is brave.
It requires, no matter how often you’ve done it before, an unflinching exploration of boldness.
And not enough people are bold. Or brave.
And the more we tear down people when they try to be, the less likely they are to lay anything bare.
And we need to lay bare; to unlatch and throw wide open the window on who we are, so we can make it easier for other people to be who they are.
I’m never going to stop doing that; even when it’s not pretty. Even when it’s brash.
Being who you genuinely are, and being ok with that, is brave and it is bold.
And that’s all I need, and want, to be.