When it comes to who I am and what I go through in life, I’m open and honest. Some topics are sticky and unpleasant like a wad of freshly discarded gum in a parking lot that you just happen to step on. And other topics are light and fluffy like tufts of pink cotton candy pulled free from a delicate pillow of strands twirled around a white paper stick. Either way, it’s life.
It was during my sophomore year of college that I suddenly found comfort instead of fear in being an open book. I realized that speaking freely oftentimes inspired others to do the same. Soon enough, a dialogue about an otherwise taboo topic is occurring and all vulnerability goes out the window. The end result is knowledge. Someone learns something. And if nothing else, all participating parties realize that no experience and no fear is unique. Simply put, you are never alone.
Case in point, when I felt stuck in my writing class, I thought about emailing the instructor directly. I figured it was her job to kick my ass in gear. Plus admitting temporary paralysis to one person was a lot less threatening than admitting it to an entire classroom of complete strangers. Strangers who, as far as I was concerned, were gleefully experiencing literary success. But to be honest, that felt like a total pussy move. Because at the end of the day, I was amidst a group of writers and someone in the bunch was bound to relate. So instead of sending a private email to the instructor, I posted a public statement to the entire class. And then I waited.
Turns out I was right. The first two classmates to respond to my post were supportive and offered great advice. Then a student who’d kept quiet during our chat sessions admitted that she too was spinning in a downward spiral of frustration. As the conversation unfolded and the number of participants grew, knowledge was shared, experiences were mentioned and suddenly the stigma and vulnerability I originally felt disappeared. The beauty of it all is that my gesture liberated not only me but others.
With all of that said, I do honestly believe not everything should be shared on this blog. I realize and respect that certain aspects of my life and the lives linked to it aren’t meant to be public. That the words that pass between me and him or me and you or you and her don’t have a place here. I’ve always thought that and understood that but I’ve struggled in the last few months with how to best manage it. Sometimes the lines get a tad blurry. Sometimes the only thing that gives me a flutter in my belly and an urge to write is a topic that should remain private.
Since the start of the year, there have been at least four or five essays I’ve penned that I’ve temporarily loaded on my blog but have never actually published for the sake of public viewing. They’ve merely lingered in draft mode safely out of view. While I wanted to share what I’d written because I loved a few lines or adored the overall theme, my gut told me to keep it private, so I did. It’s been difficult as I’ve gone through this, well, censorship. It’s actually felt a little like self betrayal. As if I’m not being honest.
Then Joe and Barry gave me a journal for my birthday. It’s a lovely leather bound book of lined paper with a light gray fleur-de-lis dotting the bottom. I’m admittedly a horrible journal keeper. My pen moves slower than my head. I leave out words. My print morphs into Sanskrit. I’ve never written more than ten pages in a journal before retiring it to my bookshelf. But this time is different. I changed my perspective and instead of seeing the pen as hindrance to my rapid thoughts, I’ve come to embrace it as a way to slow me down. It’s an ink imposed long deep breath.
More importantly, as I struggled to figure out the fine balance of public and private, the journal helped me realize that writing is writing. That once those words exit my head and land on a page, they are immediately shared. Whether it’s just for my eyes, his eyes or for all of you to scan, those words have become part of a bigger picture. I now think of my journal as my personal blog. A place where I can write candidly about those private matters and in my own twisted way, continue to feel public.
I’m still me. I’m still being honest. And I’m still writing about it all.