The Truth
October 8th, 2010

The blogosphere is supposed to be a place where we can say the things we’re otherwise afraid to say.  I’ve been blogging for nine months now, and this is what I’ve been afraid to say.

For the most part I love blogging.  I love the way it makes me think, and process, and choose words, and explore ideas.  But there are moments when this online world reminds me of myself as an insecure teenager.  I read what you write.  And I compare myself to you. 

There has been some rough stuff in the blogosphere this week.  There has been talk of loss, unrelenting sadness, depression, and stigma.  These topics accompany other frequent and similar topics – refrains of estrangement, dysfunction, financial strain, and general struggle to keep up with life’s curve balls.  This makes it sound like our virtual community is a downer of a place to hang out.  The amazing thing about it, though, is that nothing could be further from the truth.  We bare our souls only to find them uplifted by our friends and counterparts, which isn’t depressing at all.  But – especially in my less confident moments – it has gotten me thinking about some things.

Many of you walk through your real-world lives carrying incredible weight.  You feel obligated to obfuscate these burdens with smiles and cheery discourse.  And it is only here in this virtual space that you finally feel at liberty to unburden yourself through honesty and confrontation and confession.  I am grateful that the online world offers us this freedom.  And I am honored and privileged to respond to your posts and attempt to alleviate your pains in some feeble way.  But when it comes to my own interactions I find myself in quite the opposite position. 

I am a fundamentally happy person with a fundamentally happy life.  This is a good thing, but not stylish or dramatic, and sometimes, here in this place, I feel that I should leave it conveniently unwritten.  Rather than masking my sadness to the real world I find myself masking my happiness in the virtual one.  (Perhaps this is why I most frequently write about my responses to other topics, rather than my own life.  Privacy is certainly an issue, but for the most part a happy life is not interesting fodder for reflection.  Tolstoy got that one right.)

But blogging is supposed to be the venue to bring our authentic selves forth.  We are to drop our veils and state the unfettered truth about who we are.  And if this is the case then today is the day I will do just that:  I am happy.  I am perky.  I am outgoing.  I laugh a lot.  I have never lost a parent, sibling, spouse, or child.  My family and I are all in good health.  My marriage is strong.  My faith is sturdy, but not unquestioned.  I have been fortunate.  I am not without grey days, but they are few in number and short in duration.

I do not mean to be arrogant or proud.  And I do not – ever for one moment – take these things for granted.  I say them because they are true.  And if this is the place to say the things that are true then I want to do that.  I just hope that you’ll accept me as I am even when it doesn’t blend into the blogging scenery.

11 Responses to “The Truth”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I think you’re right–we hear a lot about struggle and sadness in blogland because people feel a certain kind of freedom. We can hide behind our screens and reveal things that we wouldn’t if we’re face-to-face. It’s an odd little contradiction there, no?

    But there are lots of funny, funny people out there who make me laugh (although they, too have dark moments) and I’m always grateful for them.

    You may not blend in, but you have a lot to contribute. I love coming here because you make me think. Which is good, because oftentimes, I wonder if my brain still works at all.

  2. Jack Says:

    Authentic blogs are what I find to be most interesting. Nothing wrong with being happy or having a happy life. Be who you are.

  3. Anne@lifeinpencil.com Says:

    I think what’s unique about your blog is that you make us all think–about things OUTSIDE ourselves. And as much as self-reflection is important, it’s also important to step outside of that sometimes to contemplate issues and people that take us away from the day-to-day. I appreciate that about your blog.

    Don’t ever apologize for being who you are. I know I’ve struggled with the same issue a lot in the blogging world, and am generally most comfortable writing about other people.

  4. Cathy Says:

    A couple of thoughts to share back:

    1.) I am relatively new to blogging. There are many things I want to say but have yet to work up the courage to say them out of fear of alienating folks. My hesitation is probably a good thing, but still, I feel like I am not fully truthful.
    2.) I love your site because, as Kitch mentions above, you make me think. And I like that kind of intellectual stimuli.
    3.) I have found through my own blog that people are much more responsive to my posts that involve something negative. I’m not sure if that’s because people can relate better, or they feel like that’s how they can offer support, or what really. It kind of bums me out because I would like to post cheery stuff (and I still do) but the positive feedback is often missing when I do.
    4.) I, too, have a happy life – older kids who are basically good and less work than those with the young ones out there, a strong marriage, good jobs for me and my honey, a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice schools. And, like you say, it’s not good fodder… :-) But who cares?! I will say all I want to say and if people don’t respond, then so be it.

  5. Gale Says:

    Cathy – Thanks so much for this comment. Your point #3 brings up something I was talking about with my husband just last night (but didn’t quite have the nerve to delve into here) and that is that there is a cycle of affirmation on negative topics. We post about hardship and people lift us up. It’s a beautiful phenomenon, but it creates incentives to continue posting about the darker aspects of our lives. I want to be careful in highlighting this issue because many people in blog-land really do have hardships that they can’t express in real life. And I would never want any of those people to feel that there is not room for their honest thoughts here. I appreciate their candid emotions and learn a lot from them. I just don’t have as much to offer in that particular realm of self-reflection and I just wanted to express that I hope that’s okay too.

  6. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Another thoughtful post, Gale, as usual. And since I’m one of the ones who writes of struggles, I hope you know I write of other things as well – my travels, my French fantasies, word play, silly sonnets, art, my favorite shows (those fabulous Mad Men) and likewise, my favorite shoes… :)

    As I write daily (cheaper than therapy), perhaps what stands out are the more serious subjects. Or perhaps they allow those who are also fighting battles to feel less alone. And in writing about them, on the days that I do, that is a choice, just as I choose to not write about many things which are, to me, not something I care to share in a public forum.

    This wonderful place you have created (here) is one that is always worth visiting. And I can’t imagine any reader feeling disappointed by hearing that you have a happy life. I for one find it reassuring to know that good marriages exist, that families can remain intact, that value systems are in place but not so rigidly that rigorous questioning and learning aren’t equally within reach.

    I would hope you continue to write whatever strikes you – including all the wonderful moments, which we will enjoy reading.

  7. Gale Says:

    BLW – Thanks so much for your feedback here. For the record, I think yours is one of the most diverse blogs I read. I appreciate the breadth in topics (from tennis to television to teens) as well as your insightful perspective on each one. And none of the blogs I read deals wholly with tough topics. It’s just that this week seemed to bring an onslaught of them and I felt even more the minority than usual.

    I did not mean for this post to come across as a referendum against people who work through their hardships online. I may have to join such ranks one day and I would not want to do anything detrimental to the online platform as a safe and welcoming place for those who need it for such purposes. And in the meantime (as I said in my response to Cathy) I learn something from each of them.

    Thanks, as always, for your honest and heartfelt comments here. I appreciate it a great deal.

  8. ayala Says:

    What a thoughtful post Gale. I think it’s great that your life is full and happy.
    I think that you have to write about the things that inspire you. I found your blog not long ago and I visit it and I enjoy reading your words. I am looking forward to you sharing all your happy moments with us!

  9. Gale Says:

    Ayala – Thanks so much for your comment. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying my posts and I hope you’ll continue to come back. I too hope that I’ll have plenty more happy moments to share!

  10. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Not sure how I missed this one. But I am proud of you for being honest about the sunshine in this oft-shadowy online world. I think this world is interesting because of the light and the dark, the resident humanity that involves both. Thank you for being authentically you. I for one am happy that you are happy and happy to hear about it :)

  11. Shawna Says:

    Bravo! For allowing your true self to shine through in all its happiness. Sharing struggle AND joy is what it is all about for me. I find myself leaning towards happier and happier bloggers. Why not? Their lives are beautiful in spite of a lack of tragedy;)