I haven’t written in a while, because I’ve been scared and intimidated about what I have to say. I’ve written this post in my head for days and I’m still not quite sure where it’s going. But I’ll try to jump in and see where it takes me.
I feel like I’ve been false. It started out with me feeling false about how I’ve been in this new blogging community, and through some thoughts and conversations has come to mean so much more than that. I guess I’ll start with the big picture.
I’ve always known what I should do. ‘Shoulds’ were important to me, even as a child. I learned who I should be at church, who I should be at home, who I should be when my grandparents were around. Eventually, I learned who I should be at school, who I should be around kids my own age so that I could have friends and not be the kid everyone laughs at. I learned what my duties were in each place. I learned that doing my duty, performing these shoulds, came before the things I wanted to do. So I did my homework before I played outside. I learned about popular music so I could join in conversations at school. I was the fastest in my year at looking up Bible verses because it made the Sunday School teachers like me.
I even learned to pick up on the shoulds that weren’t spoken, the ones the people sometimes don’t even know they carry. I learned to read between the lines, to see what was there and conform with it even though no one asked me to. I learned to look at people’s actions, at what they valued and praised and what they didn’t, at how they acted towards different people and behaviors. I learned who and what I needed to be to succeed in different situations and, above everything else, to make them like me.
I didn’t always conform to the shoulds. My mom could tell you–I didn’t always do what I should have done. I didn’t always pick up on the things that she was wishing I would do but didn’t ask. In fact, sometimes I did the opposite. Sometimes I knew she thought I shouldn’t cry in the middle of the grocery store and I did it anyway. Sometimes I wanted to play and then do my homework. Sometimes I cried over the math problems even though I knew that I should just be patient and try them yet again.
But I almost always knew what shoulds were present, and felt terribly guilty when I didn’t or couldn’t live up to them. I learned to look at what people wanted, at what they expected, and gauge how I was doing and where I was going from that. If I did what I should, I was good. If I didn’t, then I was bad and there was no excuse for me. If I couldn’t, then there was something wrong and I should be able to.
I think that at least part of this all comes from me receiving some very divergent feedback about who I was at a pretty early age. My parents approved, but my friends didn’t. I thought I was ok, but my parents thought otherwise. I was good. I was bad. I was good. I was good. I was bad. It didn’t make sense to me, and so I learned not to trust myself to evaluate correctly, and I looked outside of myself for standards by which to judge where I was at and how I was doing. And I learned to be really, really good at it.
As an adult, this all makes sense. No one is going to find approval all the time. But as a little kid, it was confusing, even bewildering, and I had to find a way out.
All of this means that I almost never bring my whole self to the table. I just don’t. I judge which parts of me are wanted, put on the person I’m supposed to be today, and become that. I don’t lie–all of the different parts that I bring are really there, whether through nature or nurture. But I don’t usually present all of them at once.
This whole blogging thing is a good example of that. I saw a blogging community that I wanted to be a part of and I determined who I should be to fit in there. I apologize for not bringing more of me here–I’m not sure that I’ve wronged you, but I’ve definitely wronged myself. When I came to this community, I included things like being deep, being encouraging, being excited, being mature. It’s not that I’m not these things, but I’m certainly not like that all the time.
I do think and feel deeply, but I can be as shallow as anybody. I like God and spiritual formation and growing my heart, but I also like Arrested Development, the Beastie Boys, and following the whole Britney saga.
I can be encouraging, but it’s so hard for me to do it through words. I’m so much more the girl who wants to look into your eyes, maybe touch you and let you know that I’m there, and not say anything at all. I want to journey with you, wherever you are, but I might not have much to say along the way.
I love to be excited as much as the next person, but the truth is that I’m at a pretty slow, pretty blah point in my life. I’d love to travel, to be growing fast, but I’m not. And sometimes I’m jealous of the people who are, or I wonder if something’s wrong with me.
I can be very mature, but I’m also pretty silly, and sometimes child-like. I still want to pick up all the rolly-pollies that I see, and I love kites and kittens.
I feel like I’m not saying this very well at all. I don’t expect all of me to come out on my blog. But I’ve been cultivating an image that isn’t whole. I’ve been afraid to post about my favorite songs, or to write about how the wrestling match between the man dressed in a giant mole costume and the guy in the jetpack that’s in the last season of Arrested Development is simply some of the best TV, ever. I’ve been afraid that all y’all would leave, that you’d wonder how this crazy girl who totally doesn’t fit got in in the first place. I’ve been afraid of not fitting, once again.
I’ve not fit in a lot of places. There’s so much of me that I wonder how I ever could. Sometimes, I wonder that about anybody–with all that we are, is there ever a place for us.
It’s not that I’ve never fit, mind you, but that the instances are few enough and far enough between that my stance toward the world is that I won’t, not that I will.
There are so many things I like: photography, growing, writing, painting, reading, spiritual formation, science fiction, doing spiritual direction, praying, singing, listening to a wide variety of music, learning languages, doing academic research, listening, coffee, tea, chocolate, integrating and helping people integrate, lavender, Gocco, travel, Greece, Scotland, new paper, new pens, fountain pens, growing things, babies, turtles, some dogs, cats I’m not allergic to (or who aren’t determined to torture me with the fact that I’m allergic), DaVinci, Alias, Battlestar Galactica, flowers, trees, memory foam, sewing, crocheting, the ocean, the mountains, silence, feather boas, musicals, loud concerts, and that’s just the beginning (and in no particular order). It all fits in me, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t all fit in many other corners of the world.
I guess what I’m saying to those of you I blog with is just what you know already: what you see here isn’t all of me. But I want to stop pretending that it is. If I read your words and don’t have something to say, I’m don’t want to feel pressure come up with something just because I’m there and I want you to like me. If I just want to be with you in it, I want to tell you that I’m there, not come up with something that borders on profound because I feel like I should. When I want to blog about random things, I want to do it and not be afraid.
I want these things, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I think this blog is a good place (at least as good as any) for me to practice bringing more of me, to stop hiding half my cards under the table and start pushing all in a little more often (I also like poker). I don’t think it will come easily. I learned to put parts of myself away for a reason, and convincing myself to let go, to just give it a try and see what happens, isn’t going to be easy. But if I can do it here, with y’all, I think I can do it other places, too.
I also want to honor the process, and the little girl who saw what she thought she needed to become and did a damn good job of becoming that. She was hiding, but she was also hurting, and she found her own way around the pain. If I just decide that I’m changing, here and now, I thrust her away again. Instead, I want to allow her to find healing and come out that way.
I feel really silly for being in this place, like it’s something I should have gotten over long ago. I’m ashamed, because the cues I pick up from the world around me say that I should be beyond this place. And there I go again. So I’m here, and I’m trying. And if you sense me being false, please let me know.
I wish I didn’t feel like I needed to add this caveat, but I do so I’m going to anyway. I’m afraid that you’re all going to feel bad for me, to feel like you should tell me that I have a place and a bloggy home here, that you want whatever comes out of this one little heart. And if you feel moved to do so, I’m not trying to stop you. But I want you to know I’m writing this because I want to tell you where I’m at, not so we can all have a “Poor Sarah” party and I can garner some sympathy (if we’re going to have a party, for goodness’ sakes, let’s have it for a better reason than that!). I do know the truth. I know that God made me good and that this is a safe group. Knowing, however, does not always mean KNOWING. It’s in there, bonking around someplace. And it will come out. But this is where I am today, and where I’ve been for the last few.