Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
When I first started writing online, it was 2008, and I was hungry.
All of my life, I have been hungry to be seen and heard. I have been hungry for an opportunity to be loved for exactly who I am.
I was living in a small town that measured 3 miles by 3 miles, the town that I grew up in. At the time, I remember feeling as though I had so much to say, but that there was no one around to listen. Because there was no one around that was interested in what I was interested in, I had made it mean that I wasn’t good. That, I wasn’t enough.
That there was something wrong with me.
I created a twitter account when twitter first came out, but it took me three years to figure out how it worked.
It required a lesson from my mother, who already had over a thousand followers.
It felt… like shouting into the abyss, and hearing my own voice echo back at me.
And yet, always, writing and social media were fused. Reaching out. Standing tall. Holding my place within the swirling nexus of my vulnerabilities. A lesson in being brave, every day. It has been how I opened up my heart, and began to show the brightest part of myself. And, in turn, it has been how I have worked with others to shine their lights as well.
When I started writing, I was hungry for connection, but it took years of working with myself, coaxing myself out of my shell, until I as able to connect authentically.
Mostly, I was teetering on the edge of terrified and exhilarated.
Afraid of what I would say, but certain that I had to reach out.
At first, it was about the immediate gratification of a response.
A comment, I am loved.
A retweet, I have been heard.
An email, I am important.
But slowly, my work online has become the way that I transmit the person that I am. It is like shouting into the abyss, I am here. I matter. I am showing up. This is me and I am worth something – even when it was met with radio silence.
It has changed how I show up in every other area of my life. It has been the ultimate tool in my becoming.
Over time, my communication has shifted, quantitative to qualitative. It has been how I tell my story, and how I open myself up to others looking to share their stories. The numbers, once carefully counted, have fallen by the wayside. Human connection is the currency that I deal in these days.
Real truths. Real stories.
Just yesterday, I asked my sweetheart, do you think I put too many photos of my face up on Instagram?
We laughed, because I do. And yet, doing so has changed everything for me, again.
When I first showed up online, I made myself vulnerable in my writing, but if I am being honest now, that is a very comfortable place for me. Showing up. Writing the post. Expressing the thought.
But, photographing my face and my body, has always left me brimming with dis-ease.
Lingering from childhood: you should not love the way you look so much. You are arrogant. Prideful. Selfish. You should pretend that you don’t love yourself. Dim your light. No one will want to be your friend.
Or this one, they are all laughing at you behind your back.
Or, there is a big party that everyone is invited to except for you.
My pain points. I hold them close like a bag filled with broken mirror shards, careful not to poke myself as I go about my day.
Over the last five years, the way I have shown up here has been intentional. A practice in walking my walk. Through showing up online and getting honest myself here, I have modeled the type of life for myself that I have always been yearning for. I have peeled off the layers, and made myself brave.
Now, I am connecting in the way that I was always hungry to connect.
Real life. Real thoughts. Real images.
A practice in not smoothing over my edges for you. In letting you in.
So that I might stand the chance to connect as my true self, my real self. The woman that I didn’t know how to let into polite conversation before. The too much girl. Me.
This is the choice that I have made everyday to get to know myself, and to let you know me.
So that I might be loved, for exactly who I am.
This post was a part of the Social Media Consciousness project, which was sparked out of a conversation about how using social media has changed over time. To read more of the posts in this series, you can find them all here, or follow #socialmediaconsciousness on twitter.