I need to get something off my chest, so let’s just get this out of the way: I want you to like me.
I really do. I want you to respect my opinions, think I’m interesting, funny, wise, and stylish. I want you to admire my choices, personally and professionally, and the thought that you might disapprove of me makes me want to curl up in a ball on the floor.
I know I’m not the only one suffering from this pressure to be universally liked–it’s a part of the human condition–but I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t please everyone, and I can’t afford to spend one more ounce of energy trying, or I’m afraid I’ll boil over.
The problem is that YOU (people whose approval I crave–yes, that would be ALL of you) are a wonderful, diverse collection of individuals with a broad scope of experiences and perspectives. You are Christians, Muslims and Atheists; gay, bisexual, and straight; CEO hopefuls and stay at home moms. And I love those things about you. I love what you bring to my life, and I’ve learned something from each of you.
But when I think about trying to please YOU as a collective group, ensuring you approve of my lifestyle, values, and choices, when I start trying to frame my stories, my life, in a way that leaves no one offended, I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. Because how do I address such a diverse group of people, make you think I’m awesome and wise, and still stay true to myself?
I don’t, that’s how. I can’t.
Instead, I hide. I tell partial truths. I share most of my heart. I hide my most powerfully felt, deeply held convictions.
And this project, this book I’m working on, it’s about me. The real me. It’s about fucked up things I’ve been through and people who’ve both uplifted and hurt me, mistakes I’ve made, and what I’ve learned about life and the spiritual world through it all. And I’m more convinced every day that it’s not worth writing at all if I’m going to hold back the most raw, vulnerable bits. Because the power is in telling the truth. All of it.
For the last few weeks, I’ve fought not only writer’s block, but crippling terror when I think about sitting down to write. Because the idea of exposing myself so broadly to YOU, you lovely rainbow of weird, fascinating, awesome people, gives me crazy amounts of anxiety. I worry that I’m too secular for my Christian friends and too Christian for my non-churched friends. What if you discover that I share a viewpoint with someone who hurt you, who judged you, and you shut me out? What if you stop respecting me?
Honestly? I’m petrified. But I know there is freedom in telling the truth. My truth.
That’s why I’ve decided to start a series of posts called Confessions. I’ll devote each post to a scary topic, and I’ll tell you the truth about what I think. Not because I need you to agree with me, but because I need to get free. Free from the expectations of others, free from fear of judgment, free from my assumptions about what you will say and think about me.
I hope you’ll continue to accept me. And if you decide you can’t do that, I’ll probably feel sad, but at least it’ll be the real me you’re rejecting.
So, with the intention of blasting through my own self-doubt, I present my confessions. I ask for your grace as I crack myself open.