Something Kinda Meta

Here are some of the pieces I plan on writing in the future:

  • How Chronic Pain Feels
  • My Emerging “Radical Feminist” Coming Out Story
  • How Hair is a Feminist Issue
  • 2 Truths and a Lie
  • Pressure: The Incredible Motivator
  • How Do You Measure A Year? (coming December 31, 2016)

However, as we all know, plans and reality are different. There’s so much I want to write!  I spend my days narrating an internal monologue only to find that when I finally sit down to write, and calm my thoughts enough to spit out something relatively coherent “my fingers freeze, my mind stops. I can’t find the words and the paragraphs I had so eloquently written in my head are nowhere to be found.” This whole thing is so frustrating!

I mean, I’ve been writing over on ravishly.com living the dream as a contributing writer! Here’s my contributor page: YAY!!!! And, I’ve been over on themighty.com (here) writing about chronic pain. Yet the personal stuff, the things I actually want to work on and write on, has been disappointingly neglected.

I’ve said it before, but when I’m writing, I can be myself and share my thoughts. It actually feels really vulnerable, exposed, and terrifying! Sometimes I get “stage-fright” and want to swallow my words back up or not claim them as my own. In those moments, I take the the Shonda Rhimes “yes” approach – even though it scares me. I have to own this!

Earlier this year, I couldn’t think. In those months, I felt like an essential part of my identity was missing. It enraged me! During that time writing, editing, and revising helped me make sense of the chaos.

In so many ways, I’m back now, and I can think again! And so, what follows is literally something kinda meta. It’s just I’ve been thinking a lot, and need to reconcile those thoughts into something relatively cohesive.


They say the best writers are well read.  I envy the craftsmanship of writers whose talent makes ideas and images explode off the page. I admire people who are so fervently dedicated to this art.

I walk around the world narrating to myself. I arrange the words in my mind as if they’re puzzle pieces. When I get stuck, I move on to another part, or I backtrack and approach the challenge from a different angle. For example, I could see a bee pollinating a flower – sucking the nectar from its colorful, robust center, and wonder, to myself: How would I describe this? What imagery would I call upon to depict the experience of quenching one’s innate desire by entering the succulent, tight center of a bright, open flower? How could I detail the onomatopoeia I’m searching for to describe the sucking sound escaping from the bee’s mouth as it nurses the flower, caring deeply to attend to every last drop of think, sweet nectar like a baby coveting, adoring even, its mother’s breast? Is it a puck sound? More of a slurp?  

As I hear conversations, I consciously insert the unspoken aspects of dialogue – sigh, beat. Soon, the percussive nature of a gripping exchange becomes inexplicably compelling. An oration that is disciplined by rhythm embodies a pace, a tempo, that’s nearly impossible to ignore. It’s the type of pentameter that’s so relentlessly captivating the words practically don’t matter at all. And, when I zoom up close to the rhythm of life and embrace the interconnectedness of each person’s story the words, the narrations, become illuminated for me.

These words, they practically beg for engagement and acknowledgement. They strive for consumption and understanding. Yet, the beauty lies in the ability to appreciate both the clarity of shared meaning, and the messiness of each individual’s experiences clouding a shared conceptualization of a story. If we’re attentive, intentional, and skilled, we can generate stories that completely relay how we’re feeling, and what we want others to understand about our lived experience. Idealistically, we can use words as vehicles to move ideas forward.

And so, here I am; I’m relentlessly trying to narrate my world. I walk around composing paragraphs, envisioning the sentences, rearranging their structure – all the while tirelessly wondering, “how will I explain my play, my script, of the world?”, and “how will I tell my story?”

 

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You May Now Proceed to “Overthinking”

This blog was a risk. This blog felt vulnerable and scary. But, this blog has also been freeing. I’ve gained a space to think and wonder but I still feel nervous almost every time I post something.

I haven’t posted in a few days (almost two weeks) because I’ve been angry and also buried in school work. Instead, I’ve been scribbling my thoughts in a notebook begging for a moment to make sense of everything. At the same time, I’m really craving a chance to just spew some (possibly) utter chaos and just leave it here so that it’s somewhere and I can move beyond it.

Here I go…

I’ve come to one of the biggest realizations of my life these past few days:

The system is only a system if you buy into it”

[Side Note: I use a lot or metaphors and write in cyclical notions. It’s because metaphors make space. That’s a double meaning. They allow me to explain myself and explore what I’m thinking when either I don’t have the words or I don’t want to confront the words. They provide a necessary element of distance while also providing direct insight into how I’m thinking and feeling. Anyway, these days I’m attempting to make metaphors work because then I don’t have to “own” everything just yet. I can make space and take space through one simple (kinda) conversation.]

What a troubling realization. Basically, life shattering. All this is to say EVERYTHING is socially constructed and things only have meaning if we allow them to have meaning. From grades, to language, to religion, and relationships the meanings we attribute to them and the agreed upon social understanding of these ideas are what perpetuate them. Another day maybe I’ll dabble in a conversation about race, gender, and sexual identity in a similar vein because the same logic applies. BUT, I don’t want to get into that right now.

Regardless, this whole sentiment makes me think a lot!

If I think too much, and allow myself to wander down that windy path, it makes me question if anything matters at all.  Not in a hopeless way, but in a curious way. If we can break down each construct and get to the bottom of all this thinking, underneath it all, we’re just people. I DO realize the danger of a statement like that!

But really, if I think this through enough it’s like nothing is actually real until we make it real. And in so many ways, making it real means attributing a label or value to what we’re experiencing. Remember, “The system is only a system if you buy into it”. This meaning making requires us to create and make sense of arbitrary distinctions and agree to attribute value or worth to them in order to reinforce hierarchies or beliefs that in some ways separate us and in other ways bring us closer together or build us up. Although, even when we’re being built up, it’s always in contrast to someone who is necessarily considered “less than” us. Otherwise, how would we reinforce these systems and structures?

So, it begs the question, if the systems only exists because we allow them to, then how can we say that anything is really real? And, if we’re ascribing to this perspective, and can rationalize that nothing is real, then clearly, nothing really matters. Okay, let’s say there for a second. If nothing really matters BUT we can’t escape the classifications and hierarchies (systems and structures) that are literally the foundational aspects of the word we live in, then does anything matter only because we let it matter? Are we simply learning to live as compliant beings and play our part in systems that we cannot change? Are we upholding the systems by performing our expected behaviors and not challenging our roles?

I’ll concede. Yes, there’s logic and order associated with the extent to which we accept and act out our roles and comply with the understanding that the world works in a certain “way”. But really, I can’t help but wonder what it would take to make it all stop for a second so we can catch our breath and realign our expectations and so we can take a good look at our world and consider what REALLY matters?

It makes my head spin!

The Intersection of Logic and Ridiculousness

Recently, I had the most amazing conversation with a friend. Imagine this conversation as if it were a route on a map. It started out at the corner of vulnerability and suspense. Then, it rounded the corner into an open lot of questioning and wonder. It meandered to a land of thinking deeply and differently. The conversation took a perplexing turn toward striving to understand contrasting and complex perspectives. Hours later, we contently (and brake screechingly) arrived at the intersection of logic and ridiculousness. One the lyrics in the song Maps – Fun Home says, “maps show you what is simple and true” (Click here for another great Broadway song about maps: A Map of New York – If/Then). However, in this conversation nothing seemed simple and true. The adventure we jumped into did not have definitive boundaries or expected outcomes. Even so, despite the many twists and turns, I didn’t feel lost! That’s how I know it was a conversation worth having!

I was (and still am) swimming in my thoughts. But, the accompanying feeling of drowning or going off course wasn’t overwhelming; it was exhilarating! I was thinking so quickly my whole body was engaged. I was craving that!  It was like a switch turned my mind on and things lit up! My brain was entertained and invested in this discourse for hours contemplating the multiple pathways I might contend with as I navigated through this thoughtful, meaningful exchange. For those hours, I recognized myself. I felt comfortable and confident. It was as if life was breathed back into me. il_570xn-704413268_4vxg

I have to believe that’s what it means to be truly connected to someone else (speaking of connections… click here to read about “Jew-ography”!). The whole world could be moving on but you’re right there committed to that moment, that interaction, because this is so real and so personal. It’s that synchrony, that energy, that is so influential! I was reminded of what it feels like to be me. I miss that. I miss the space to think so intentionally and to be truly connected. I loved listening, struggling with, and accepting each perspective simply for how it moved and shaped the discussion. This was an inexplicably redeeming,  special, allows me to breathe deeply and smile authentically (even if everything else that day sucked) opportunity. I’m so appreciative!

Making Sense of This – Labels

Recently, I read Judith Butler’s Undoing Gender  (twice – yup that good!) and since then, I’ve had a lot on my mind. Well, admittedly, I always have a  lot on my mind but reading this text came at an aptly appropriate time. I’ve been grappling with words like “labels”, “identity”, “recognition”, “reality”, “acknowledgement” (different from recognition), “ownership”, and “desire” and this text just happened to put all these influential words in conversation with each other. Butler’s words, and subsequent discourses I’ve had about the text, said a lot of what I needed to hear and also hoped to hear. It’s been exhausting and cyclical to contend with and attend to these complicated thoughts. What follows will be my best attempt at making sense of this all. Most likely, I won’t resolve anything in the next ~1200 words and I’ll probably conclude with more questions than answers. But, that’s the beauty of wondering!


One quote in particular from the text has been ringing in my ears: “life histories are histories of becoming and categories can sometimes act to freeze that process of becoming”.  I might not need to say anything else about this quote. I could just leave it to simmer and settle with each person how they feel it best resonates with them. But, let’s think this through. Initially, (I’ll comment on this quickly because I could write forever about this) I understood this quote in relation to meaning and value associated with understanding how where you’ve been and where you’re going align. Basically, realizing for yourself what you’ve accomplished, experienced, and learned is instrumental to understanding who you are and why you’ve become this individual. Our experiences shape our future decisions and those decisions in turn shape us.

Moving on, in my interpretation of this quote, I regarded the word “categories” as synonymous with “labels”.  Writing about National Coming Out Day was my first stab at I grappling with the difficult but also empowering nature of labels.


Here are a few highlights from that post:

“We question “are our identities valid enough to be recognized on this day?” or “have we struggled enough to deserve to participate in National Coming Out Day?” Here’s where it comes back to labels. We decide the meanings we attribute to these words and then we judge. Why should one person who identifies one way fear so violently speaking their label? Owning their identity?”

“Our labels are both constricting and empowering when we first speak our truths. However, once society gets a hold of them, we’re leaving our words to be interpreted differently with each repetition of who we are.”


As I was reading Butler’s text, I was really caught up in this idea that all too often, our labels aren’t for us. Rather, they’re for others to make sense of or, frankly, cope with something that they perceive is different from the norm.  Lately, I’ve been feeling like labels and categories act to regulate the unfamiliarity that is associated with identifying as anything that is perceived as “other”  since we cannot locate other identities in the confining, typically binary, categories we are accustomed to. This is particularly interesting to me since many of my intersecting identities are both invisible and categorized as minority identities. [side note: I want to be careful here about how I represent and use intersectionality. I just want to note that the word “intersectionality” is often tied up in white feminism. Not a bad thing. I just want to consider and attend to thoughts about who is included and what assumptions accompany the use of that word.] In so many ways the responsibilities and opportunities available to us are aligned with society’s expectations for us based on our identities. This can have so many unintended and detrimental consequences.

And now, the question must be asked. To what extent do we really define our identities for ourselves?

Simply (although it’s not simple) all we really want is to be recognized for who we are. We have a desire to be acknowledged for who we are. Even the possibility of being seen for who we really are (maybe “becoming”) is desirable. What’s hard to grapple with is that for some people whose identities “violate” the norm their desire, and their wants and needs, are effectively put on trial. This trial, of sorts, serves to both normalize what is seemingly not normal and to assist or compel those individuals to ascribe to societal norms that most closely match their identity so they can gain access to services. I’m thinking here about transgender individuals who must submit to a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder (GID). It’s really a way that others deal with what is unfamiliar to them.

Mental health is great example of this. Often when people seek out services for mental health they report feeling relived even if initially the task of seeking support felt insurmountable. I think this relief comes from knowing that what they’re not alone. The possibility of fitting in even through the act of feeling or being ostracized is comforting. The existence of a community is enticing and soothing. Even just the fact that someone “gets it” or “believes them” can be relieving. The anxieties they anticipated feeling often diminish with the presentation of a diagnosis or the potential for better days (maybe this is a different type of validation?). But, at the same time, I can’t help but think about how accepting, announcing, or even seeking out, labels and consenting to this type of “normalization” (as in, it’s okay to struggle with mental health as long as we can call it something) and this categorization is one way an individual’s desire (also feelings/experiences) are simultaneously tested and validated. It is ironic to me (but really I want to use the word infuriating) that the “reward” or “accomplishment” for successfully proving the reality of your experience by subjecting yourself to someone else’s conclusion that your desire, or even prior to that your struggle, is authentic and persistent enough, is to be granted a diagnosis that qualifies them as disordered.  In a way, and sort of on the other hand, this diagnosis makes the person “intelligible” and grants them access to services and allows them to function in society. Their life is now understood in society’s terms and that makes their life “okay”.  This text exemplified for me how exclusionary practices, ie. a diagnosis (I ALSO MEAN HERE LABELS AND CATEGORIES) can be masked as inclusive and even medically necessary. I am troubled.

And to my point about who defines our identities, all too often it feels like autonomy is taken away from an individual and a person’s life is qualified and determined for them by restrictive practices that are contingent on an individual’s desire being qualified by someone else! Like, we have to convince people in power that certain aspects of our life are REAL. Because, if they aren’t real then how can we “find” ourselves in this world?

Another question I have then is, what about those whose struggle isn’t as easily visible? By this I mean, what about the minority identities we haven’t even TRIED to ignore (or oppress) and “normalize” yet because we haven’t even recognized them (think like hierarchies of minority identities here)? So, for those individuals, the possibility of being recognized at all is the more pressing issue at hand. That’s a different struggle.  If those people can’t see themselves in our world (ie. media, books, music, etc.) and find their community and if their struggle has yet to be recognized how might this persistent inferiority and feeling of being “unreal” or unrecognized make their oppression, their struggle, their voice that much harder to see and hear? And finally (for now) how does our own self-recognition factor into all of this? If we cannot “find” ourselves in the categories currently assembled and a remaking of the categories doesn’t seem possible then our quest for existence, figuratively, must lay dormant until others determine our eligibility for recognition. If others, society, won’t recognize us then how much more impossible might it seem for us to recognize ourselves and feel confident (rather than shameful) about our identities and who we are?

So, back to that quote… if “categories freeze that process of becoming” how can we overcome this debilitating desire (I would even argue necessity) in our lives to realize our true selves and recognize and respect each person for who they completely are?

So many thoughts! So many questions! I’ll keep thinking about it…

Two Words: Personality and Authenticity

There are two words that I can’t quite wrap my head around recently: “personality” and “authenticity”. When I googled these words, I got the following definitions:

Personality: individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving

Authenticity: the quality of being authentic. So then authentic means, genuine or real.

So now let’s think this through. Individually first and then together. Warning: what follows is the epitome of overthinking. This is about to get messy and incoherent really fast. Be prepared!

The reason I’ve been thinking so much about personality is because I’ve been hearing two phrases over and over recently: “that wouldn’t work for me” and “you do you”. This has been important to me because both responses seem really dismissive and minimizing to the other person. Personality is tough to navigate and it’s always changing. People judge our personality the minute they meet us. (More about this when authenticity is brought into the conversation.) And then, when we think about the definition and consider our patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving it’s hard to delineate which informs which. In an intense moment we might respond impulsively and then be reminded later (by ourselves or someone else) to “think before we act”.  Sometimes we’ll blame this kind of behavior on temperament. Conversely, we may think (possibly too much) about a choice before we behave but no matter how much consideration and attention we give to a decision we may not feel confident or like we made the “right” choice. And all these things (yes, feelings too) create our personality. We likely all can recall a time where we felt like our actions were in conflict with our values or what we thought was correct. It’s like your insides, your personality, are splitting and that’s partly because we all have a conscience and rational thinking. So then, how does consciousness or morality or even mindfulness play into the equation?

ENOUGH! When I googled “personality” I got 305,000,000 responses in under a minute. I also realize people write entire books, courses, etc. on this and I could reasonably go on and on confusing myself in my own negotiations and wonderings forever if I wanted to (it happens ALL the time!). Moving on…

Now for authenticity. Being genuine. If you were to look up genuine, you would find words like “real” or “honest”. The first things this makes me think of (aside from the retail industry) is Brene Brown. However, that’s not what we’re directly talking about today. Authenticity is doing what’s best for YOU and recognizing how you feel, what you’re thinking, and what you need. It’s also about acting authentically. Do you know anyone who you feel like is always acting “so fake”? And you can tell can’t you? Sometimes I do that too. When people first meet me, I’m enthusiastic to a nearly off-putting degree.  It’s a front. Because, when people get to know me they realize I’m actually less dynamic than that most of the time. A more accurate depiction of me would be complacency. For example, I am known to say “that sucks” and “that’s great” with the same inflection. When people get to know me they also get to know about my experience, aspirations, morals, and obviously my thoughts (including what’s important to me). At this point (if they REALLY know me) they can begin make associations between me and my actions. It’s also when they can better understand my intentionality and (hopefully) correctly judge my behaviors. In fact, even if they don’t know the “real” me, they’ll be conjuring up their opinions of me. Authenticity is really hard. It’s especially difficult in new environments where social anxiety is typically at the forefront and when good first impressions feel imperative.

So how do these come together? You have to know yourself to act authentically. That’s first. The sassy comment “you don’t even know me” that we’ve all heard could perhaps be turned inward and be point a self-criticism or reflection too.

Before we get too deep, a side note: in the act of attesting that we feel people don’t know us or drawing attention (subtly or not) to our differences (we are all different, as we know), we’re also not inviting people to engage with us. Rather than taking the opportunity to create conversation and bolster relationships we’re too often deepening the crevices between ourselves in the vein of “personality”.

This is also interesting because our personalities are always changing and being challenged every day. Lately I’ve been feeling like I don’t even know myself anymore. I’ve quite literally lost sight of who I am in this program. Graduate school challenges you and makes you super vulnerable. So what complicates this is that while we attest that others don’t know us, we also likely don’t know ourselves as well as we think. Or in some regards, at all. You have to be honest with yourself and that’s part of knowing yourself. So recognizing there’s work to be done is a huge first step. I am also temped at this point to question myself and exclaim “you just said we’re always changing so how could we know ourselves?!?” But I think instead I’ll just say, personality is super complicated. At a simplistic level, our experiences inform our values and actions which shape our thinking, feeling, and behaving ie. our personality.

So it’s a bit cyclical (isn’t everything?). And that’s why I can’t wrap my head around it all. It’s like what comes first, authenticity or personality? Is the act of being authentic how you represent your true personality? Does being attuned to your personality allow you to be authentic and act authentically? Anyway, I don’t have all the answers but I know these words are important in nearly every interaction and every sphere of our lives. In an effort to attend to more self exploration and self learning I’m going to be paying close attention to these words. If I’m quick to reply with “oh, that wouldn’t work for me” I’m going to try to ask myself why.

Likewise, I am practicing owning my experiences, thoughts, values, feelings, etc. Being authentic means answering even the hard questions or problematizing (my favorite not-word word) your inclinations and behaviors. It could also mean just attending to your tough thoughts. Then, acting in a way that is authentic and aligns with your personality rather than the role it seems like you’re expected to play out in daily life.

To conclude: You’re better than conformity. If you’re lost, be lost until you find out who or what is authentically YOU. And do the work to figure it out! Then act accordingly. Don’t settle for the prescribed trajectory people have carved out for your life. Challenge assumptions (yours and others). Be okay with not knowing.

Explore. Live. Find you. Be you.

Some Thoughts About National Coming Out Day

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day!

Truth be told, all week I’ve been waiting in anticipation of this day. Actually, I’ve been waiting for  months. But, now that it’s here I’m met with much ambivalence. Mostly I’m challenged with the fact that we have National Coming Out Day at all. This is not an original idea – I realize that. The bottom line is if we didn’t live in a heteronormative society then we wouldn’t need this day. Moreover, why do people who aren’t straight need to come out when straight people are just presumed straight? You want to talk about privilege?!?! So framing this day as a privilege, celebrating that someone “gets” to come out is just so unbelievably frustrating. It’s like EVERY other day of the year it’s not your space, privilege, right, obligation, expectation to come out but today it is? And so coming out becomes yours under whose terms? I don’t need to spell this out but even National Coming Out Day operates under the constraints of the dominant, majority groups. So is it really our day? 

Moving past my rant, National Coming Out Day is also another day that is FILLED with labels. Right? We’re supposed to say “I’m _________” in the vein of solidarity and support. The alphabet soup of the LGBTQIA movement is hard to swallow and the myriad of identities is difficult even for experts to dissect. I star24daa08c97f5b9759ffc1051343da9e3ted considering this more earlier this seek when I saw these three images:9-bi

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I just wonder, how can we have National Coming Out Day and consider that yet another triumph in the LBGTQIA movement when certain identities are still minimized even within minority communities? Someone who is Bisexual feels like they should just say the’re gay because it would be easier. Someone who is Asexual doesn’t know how they fit into the community. [side note: this Buzzfeed video captures that sentiment in a super compelling way: 15 Poignant Asexual Confessions] And then I saw this on Instagram in reference to National Coming Out Day: “don’t you dare come out as an ally”. First, everyone needs allies. Second, this is about the time I want to smash all labels (and all social media). I’m frustrated! These words mean nothing if they’re simultaneously residing in the realms of discrimination and unity. National Coming Out Day is supposed to be freeing. It’s, to me, a demonstration of how large the community is and an opportunity to find support and connections in an unforgiving, hard to navigate world. But instead, I feel like even National Coming Out Day is also being dominated by a majority group. It’s a day for CERTAIN people in the LGBTQIA community. Others stand to the sideline and grapple relentlessly with their positionality. We question “are our identities valid enough to be recognized on this day?” or “have we struggled enough to deserve to participate in National Coming Out Day?” Here’s where it comes back to labels. We decide the meanings we attribute to these words and then we judge. Why should one person who identifies one way fear so violently speaking their label? Owning their identity? Even on National Coming Out Day these wonderings, these anxieties, are real and for some of us they’re amplified.

[Side note: I’m not in any way attempting to minimize any one person’s struggle or journey. I realize that coming out as anything is challenging or even terrifying. I’m not even talking about who people love or who they’re attracted to. I’m talking about labels. And in doing so, it feels like I’m taking a huge risk.]

Labels can give us closure but they can also really harm us. I’m thinking here about a medical or mental health (not sure why I made that distinction – ugh society) diagnosis. These labels follow us and while in some contexts they allow us to receive the services and interventions we need to be our best selves in other ways they limit our potential by attaching an inescapable stigma that lingers long after we’ve felt that we’ve triumphed and moved on or overcome one of our many hurdles. Similarly, in the LGBTQIA community labels speak volumes! Among others, they indicate the level of struggle you’ve endured, who you are sexually or romantically attracted to, and who you love.

I haven’t talked yet about the third image I saw. It said “Be Yourself”. I liked this one the best but I also wish that we didn’t need motivational pictures on social media to remind us to be ourselves. I wish there wasn’t a day where it was okay to proclaim loudly who you really are and then attach a label to it so other people can make their judgement about you or know how to categorize you. I hope that tomorrow people can still proudly and loudly be exactly who they are and how they identify without any stipulations. Our labels are both constricting and empowering when we first speak our truths. However, once society gets a hold of them, we’re leaving our words to be interpreted differently with each repetition of who we are. The threat of misinterpretation makes me breathe too quickly. On National Coming Out Day I can choose my label but I cannot choose its connotation. That’s scary.

National Coming Out Day reminds me there’s still a long way to go in the LGBTQIA movement. We’ve had victories large and small but the whole idea that we need a day for people to say who they are makes me wonder, if I don’t come out today will I have missed my chance?

And now, I’ll resort to homework and hiking today to avoid this social media mess of labels and many, overwhelmingly colorful displays of false or fleeting approvals (which I interpret with a certain degree of insincerity) to someone’s real, breath taking proclamation of self.

What I Learned from Disconnecting

A few weeks ago, I gained some inspiration and some courage and returned to blogging after a couple years of hiatus. I wrote this post, Contrasting Being Connected with Just Connections, and was honored to have it shared on a friend’s page, Organized Babble. While initially, the reposting, sharing, and tweeting of this post was exciting after just a few hours it was exhausting and also seriously anxiety provoking. Nearly a week later, I deleted the post from my own Facebook page and then a week after that (approximately) I deleted my own Facebook page. If you want to know more about why I deleted Facebook or about me in general you can listen to my segment on Storries (the Facebook stuff starts at 51:20) a weekly Public Affairs talk show on UConn’s radio station, WHUS.  I haven’t been on Facebook for nearly a month and while I initially thought I’d miss it, I’m actually happier than I’ve ever been.

Considering that statement I just made, you might be wondering why I’d start a blog. Why I’d purposely create another social media platform to maintain and interact with on a regular basis. I actually am wondering that too. There’s a few reasons:

  1. I think too much. I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself and others that I don’t “reflect”. The truth is, I do. We all do. The difference for me is, I don’t think about myself all that much. However, without the distraction of everyone else’s lives and the ease of “virtual people watching” on Facebook, I’ve had more time to think about me and now it’s becoming a lot to process. I think we call that flooding. Anyway, it’s overwhelming. AND, while that’s all well and good (and apparently part of life and growing up) now I’ve come to a crucial crossroad where I’m entertaining more thoughts about my own life than ever before and I have less people available to process and converse with me. So then there’s blogging. It’s actually for me.
  2. I do well with order and routines. If I say to myself “I’ll tackle one of these things each week and write a post about it” then it’ll get done. Somehow the internet has a strange way of holding people accountable. I doubt anyone will notice if I don’t write a post (hey, they didn’t notice when I deleted Facebook) but there’s something compelling about the obligations that we create for ourselves in the virtual world. Sociologists believe that everyone has a desire to know or feel that they matter to someone. I think the internet helps us with that yearning. Here’s how, even if nobody replies, verifies that they’ve read this, or challenges my viewpoint, my voice (figuratively) is out there! And maybe, my words will influence someone. And if I’m not reaching anyone then, I’m held accountable to the “stats” tab on this blog, reminding me that I didn’t take space for me.
  3. My physical list of “things I want to write about” is getting longer than the list of things I’ve tackled. Now, some things I’m admittedly not ready to write out for the world, but this is a perfect space for everyday wonderings. Which, I’ve had WAY more of now that I’m not held captive by social media and the need to convince everyone that I’m living a seemingly perfect life or know what everyone else is “up to”.  Plus, typing is faster!
  4. Loneliness is real.  Another contradiction if I’m writing a post lauding being relatively disconnected. Remember I over think things. I’m in the midst of a huge transition in my life and what’s accompanied that is a lot, LOT of self discovery. More than I know how to handle. Remember I said that there have been fewer people around to entertain my conversations? Well, I miss them! Seriously, I miss them every day! And, while I’m figuring out my life in a new school, academic field, city, new friendships, roommates, jobs, I’m feeling really lonely. I want to write, call, text, email, and visit with all the people who have made a difference to me, who have supported and encouraged me, but the truth is, they have lives that don’t always include me. I watched a great TED talk recently  (side note: I love TED talks, so more to come!) called “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” and psychologist Guy Winch made a point that really resonated with me. He said, “Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound, one that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do. It make us really afraid to reach out, because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache when your heart is already aching more than you can stand?”  I can absolutely relate to this – p.s. I sent this talk to my friend and she never got back to me.

This post is called, “What I Learned from Disconnecting” but after writing it, I think it would have been better titled “Why I Started a Blog”. What I learned was that there’s more to learn and explore about me and that I have some serious self work to do. I learned that I am not motivated by constant comparison and I AM my biggest critic. I learned that I crave meaningful relationships and that the influential people in my life taught me more than I knew at the time. I miss them. I also learned (if I was saying this aloud I’d look away and talk really quietly) that reflection is difficult, scary, and overwhelming but also SO necessary. So, I’m starting this project to be more self aware, to make space to wonder, and to “publish” my thoughts in a space where I won’t feel like I’m being a burden to anyone.

Welcome!