“You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away from danger you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.
The Wizard of Oz
Today I’ve been thinking about what it means to be courageous. I have been told on several occasions posts I wrote are brave. Indeed, was just told that this week.
I know what the person meant when they paid me the compliment and I took it as such, but I want to dive a little deeper (as I am want to do on said blog).
I think sometimes I am more unusual than brave. Also, as our friend The Cowardly Lion learned, wisdom must be coupled with bravery for it to be true courage. Otherwise it is simply being a daredevil.
I’m not just saying this to be falsely modest but I don’t see myself as being brave on this blog or in my life in general. For goodness sakes I’m afraid of a little dog, so I certainly have my fears. However, if you had a best friend get mauled by a dog when you were 7 and had 2 siblings that the mere presence of dander sent them to the hospital than those fears may seem more wise than at first blush.
Anyway, I don’t see it as being brave. I see it as sharing my life. I see each of you my readers as my friends and I haven’t told anything on this blog that I wouldn’t tell a friend. Perhaps that says something to the type of friend I value than my real courage. I have little to no interest in fluff friends (unless they come to book club 😉 ) .
Friendship and a strong connection with others is essential to my happiness, which is not always the case with all people. I can think of many who enjoy friends but feel them to be more superfluous than family. You can see this perfectly valid relationship expectation in how they lead their life and the type of social networking/writing they do. A blog from such a person will feel like a bonus, something to brighten a friend or family members day and there is nothing wrong with that.
But that’s just not me. When I started facebook in 2007 and blogging in 2008, I literally said to myself ‘if I’m going to do this, I’m going all in’. That’s the way I love. That’s the way I friendship, and it is certainly the way I write. To not write that way would actually be much more difficult for me and would not have lasted 7 years. I can guarantee you that.
So what seems brave to someone expecting bonus material is just a natural extension of who I am. And if it is who I am, it doesn’t really seem brave. I expect nothing less than honesty, forthrightness and thoughtfulness from my friends, myself and my readers. I see the blog as a conversation between friends (that’s why I used to get frustrated at a lack of comments and I still get so excited when I get a great comment! Thank you!).
Now, have I always been wise when sharing my heart with you? For the most part, I think I have. I have tried very hard to make this about my story and no others. That can be hard, and I haven’t always succeeded, but I have tried. I have only taken down one post, and I bitterly regret it, and will never do it again.
The posts that I most often hear are brave (or even brutally honest) are usually about one of three topics- weight, mental illness and being single. Some may cry out and say ‘keep those things private!’. I say ‘why?’. Again, I think I am more unusual than brave. It has always been common to hear such openness from memoir writers and magazine columnists but the average person couldn’t talk about such things? Again, I ask why not talk about them?
Most people don’t talk about those three topics because they are either embarrassed, ashamed or fear some kind of ridicule. Such things do not worry me . I’ve faced down bullies once in my life and internet trolls and unkind people hold no fear for me. Plus, this is my forum and I control who participates in the discussion.
It’s true there may be people who think I look gross in a swimsuit or my opinion on a movie is stupid (honestly the greatest vitriol has been from those posts!) but I can take it. Unless it’s not on a PG-13 level let’s have a discussion. If you think my movie reviews are dumb let’s talk about it. That’s part of the fun of all of this.
Sometimes people have been legitimately mean (usually not published) but those idiots are far outweighed by the incredible support and gratitude I’ve received from sharing my life. The knowledge that I am adding something special to someone’s life means everything. I know there are women who have entered open water swims or triathlons because they saw me, someone who looks like them, do it. That is the greatest.
One of the very first posts I wrote was called The Only Happy Fat Woman in America. In the post, I bemoan the depiction of overweight women on television- something still a problem. About these weight loss shows I said:
“Maybe these types of examples encourage some people but it leaves me feeling depressed and angry. All people have divine worth, fat or not, and just because you lose weight does not mean you will automatically feel better about yourself. Why do no shows seem to get this?”
Indeed why? And why don’t more blogs, movies, shows, and sadly people get this? I don’t know but hopefully by sharing my story and putting myself out there as a confident woman who is overweight I can be a small voice in a large pool of “self-loathing and despair”.
Not that I don’t have my weak sad moments (even months, a year) but that is all part of sharing my life. Again, I don’t think I’m doing anything different than housands of memoir writers do every year since forever. Just sharing my life with my friends.
The same is true of mental health. I am not embarrassed or ashamed that I’ve dealt with anxiety and panic attacks. I’m proud of all I’ve learned and tired of the stigma attached to genuine medical conditions that should be no more shameful than a cold or stomach flu.
Some people feel ashamed of being a virgin and unmarried at 33. I’m confused by it and occasionally saddened but not embarrassed so why not talk about it? People (including myself) need to know they aren’t alone in this world.
Maybe someone will read my blog and think ‘someone get’s it’. I have moments of connection like that all the time and it is what I live for.
So, I don’t know if it is brave to share my life but I am incredibly grateful for it. The downside to being 33 is moments with my actual friends can be far too infrequent, so my interactions with you, my friends, mean so much.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading!
And as the song goes
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave