Hey friends! As you know, I've been wandering lately and I'm a person who struggles to put herself out there, though I do it all the freaking time. As I've been exploring what's next for me, I've been informally interviewing people in the different fields that I love, talking to people with experiences I want to have and trying to count the cost of my various options. It has been awesome, overwhelming, exhausting, slow, scary and exciting.
The thing that keeps coming back to me is expanding my writing and public speaking. It gives me a real sense of purpose and I genuinely derive energy and excitement from it. I have be honest with y'all though. This is the path that is met with the most resistance for me socially and in community. It would be so much easier for me to just get a job. I want to put a disclaimer here that I have not been perfect through this process of writing and speaking publicly using my story and sharing my experiences. I have been unkind, uncharitable and way too damn specific.
Unfortunately though, a big HOWEVER is coming. And the however is, there has been a sense of kismet in me for a long time that this might be an inevitable part of my path, my process, my story. That if I sidestep the words within me, I will be sidestepping my destiny. That sounds hella dramatic, but what I mean is, I am regularly being put in a position where I can choose to be socially accepted ("normal") or I can be myself. This has been a great source of loss and pain for me. I've written about that too. And with a lot of grace for my humanity and my community, I think I can be proud of how I've carried myself thus far. That is not everyone's opinion, but within myself I can validate a true effort to have healthy boundaries and fairness for my detractors.
I am reminded often that women who are public figures are given an unbelievable, disproportionate amount of shit. The recent gorgeous letter written by Beth Moore and subsequent evisceration of her character (I will not tag anything here to avoid increasing their clicks but it is there, trust me) was genuinely triggering to me. I want to believe that someone like her who has played the evangelical game long enough, with such incredible integrity, would have built enough credit in public opinion to be able to lift the veil a bit.
I'm realizing that no amount of credit will sustain a woman who speaks truth publicly.
So if my dream is to become a woman who lives out loud, publicly, honestly, and with courage, I AM GOING TO BE CLOBBERED. REPEATEDLY. And that forever changes a person. I see that going one of two ways. You can either let it break you or you can develop a thick enough skin and strong enough boundaries that you can continue to be who you need to be in the world. But the cost is fucking high and frankly, mightily unfair. So far, I've held my pain, honored it and defined what was mine and what belonged to my critics. I think that puts me on a path towards the latter result. But I have to tell you, that month where I was spiraling was one of the hardest months of my adult life. There were a lot of tears, so much soul searching and an incredible amount of self-care. That is what I did full-time for the month of October. That's a big deal. If I'm honest, I'm still rebuilding my self-esteem because I was judged by people who I thought really knew and loved me. If I up the ante in what I write and how I put it out there, that is only going to increase. It is the ultimate sifting, right?
I'm not sure I want to lose the safety of anonymity.
I don't know how much I can really handle being told horrible things about myself, whether they are lies or not.
I don't know if my well will dry because the well I write and speak from requires vulnerability. And only a crazy person would be able to continue in vulnerability when spoken of the way these women are spoken of. Their public perception can turn on a dime. There's no winning, not really.
Okay that's not true. The winning is being true to yourself, being strong in the face of unbelievable cruelty and fulfilling your purpose. The cost is public acceptance (or false public acceptance until you put one toe over the line), anonymity and freedom from accountability. I admire these women. I don't agree with everything they say and write. Why would I? We're living different lives. But I admire their courage and often, their words give voice to what I'm experiencing, feeling, believing and give me a sense of camaraderie. The good they're doing clearly outweighs the cost it requires. It does.
Time to put my big girl panties on?