July 6, 2012

On Honesty

"Your best work is your expression of yourself. Now, you may not be the greatest at it, but when you do it, you're the only expert." - Frank Gehry

The one place where I’ve always felt completely open and uninhibited, with the exception of those who know me well, has been with my writing.  When I write I have no worries about feelings of inhibition, concerns about being misunderstood, or fear over the potential for rejection.  Writing is just my words and me.  I’ve kept some blog or another for the past few years as a space for my thoughts and opinions, and consequently to share with a few readers, be it friends, family, or the occasional foreign visitor, and all the while it has been a great exercise in the ultimate practice of honesty.

My mom happens to be a regular reader of my blog, which I think is great, even if the subject matter doesn't always appeal to her.  She readily expresses her opinion (whether positive or negative) about my chosen topics -- from spray tanning (negative), pink Legoes (positive), or the new HBO show, Girls (negative).  “You know I think you’re a great writer, Sarah,” she says cautiously, adding, "but sometimes I don’t always like your subject matter.” 

“That’s okay,” I tell her.  “You don’t have to.”  I am not offended by this, nor am I surprised.  Knowing that she even takes the time to read my blog is a compliment -- it would be overkill and unexpected, even, to think that she would agree with everything I say.  “Just be careful,” she continues, as if writing a blog that very seldom people read is going to set me up for being kidnapped or raped, but I take her expressed concern as a term of endearment anyway. 

“I appreciate your honesty,” I say.  And I do.  My mom’s perspective is, well, that of a 50-something-year-old Mom – much different than mine, but nonetheless I appreciate her point of view, even if it's slightly old fashioned, the focus of which is on the following issues: my keeping up appearances, being a “lady”, and maintaining a sense of morality.  These are not bad things, and while her opinions make me reflect more about them, they sometimes have the unfortunate side effect of inhibiting me a little bit -- not the best thing when you're trying to attain the ultimate sense of freedom through your creative pursuits -- though it's usually temporary. 

“You are not trash,” she says, referring to my various posts, some of which sometimes contain inappropriately explicit content, according to her. 

I pause, and smile, “Well, maybe I am trashy,” I say. 

“You are not trashy.” 

“Maybe I’m a little trashy,” I respond, testing her. 

I give my mom props for raising the woman I’ve become – she instilled in me the ability to become a pretty strong and dynamic person; she showed me the value of good manners and of being a lady (to which I sometimes succeed at); she taught me all the housewife basics (I am no housewife, but if I were I think I'd be a damned good one); and, she reinforced the importance of gumption and follow-through.  By way of leading by example, and perhaps most important, she also taught me to have a voice, an opinion, a perspective.  I cannot remember ever not having an opinion about something, whether I shared it or kept it to myself.

The truth of the matter – which I tried to explain to my mom in this conversation and which she understood being the reflective person she is – is the importance of having a little place in the world where we can feel free to be ourselves, away from what society expects from us, from what our parents expect from us, from what even we expect from ourselves, because often, when we let down our guard, when we give way to inhibitions, we surprise ourselves, giving way to greater depth than we ever thought possible, and that is a pretty special thing -- inappropriate or not. 

For me, that space happens to be my blog, which is mostly anonymous, except for friends and family who know I keep one.  For others who happen to stumble upon it, well, they only know me as Sarah, that “wallflower with a lot of opinions and a bit of sass.”

I believe that practicing honesty by shedding inhibitions is a big step to sharing yourself with the world, even if that “world” happens to be only a few handfuls of people.  It’s a short life to live if we’re always consumed with appearances and how people are perceiving us  -- something we all struggle with in one way or another because we’re all just trying to be understood.   Ultimately, the gratification we get from a life fully lived is achieved by being as honest with ourselves as we can be and then attaining the self-acceptance that we're all striving for.   And you know what?  Life is too short to be ladylike all the time.  Right, Mom?

Photo Credit: Pinterest


Cheri said...

This blog is a breath of fresh air! I, too, like to blog to release the parts of me that are help captive by society or structured roles. I have such fond memories of your mom and, judging by the way you've turned out, she has done a spectacular job raising you. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and, in all honesty *wink*, I do look up to your amazing talents. I use them as inspiration to constantly work to better my own writing skills.

Sarah said...

This comment totally made my day, Cheri. And yes, I agree -- my mom did a great job raising four kids. I love reading your blog too -- your posts are always so interesting and fresh. :)