March 28, 2013

What you don't know.

I read this piece on “33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer” the other day and one of the suggestions was to “tell people something that nobody knows about you.”  This, of course, got me thinking and giddy.  But then I got nervous.  And then I got it excited.  And then I got nervous again. 

I am in some ways quite reserved and in other ways quite open. (Deja vu: have I written this before?)  With those who only sort of know me I am reserved.  With those who really know me, well, I’m quite open.  Perhaps not ironically, when I write I turn to that really open self, so much so that I usually have someone read my stuff before I post it on my blog.  This is typically my husband, who happens to be both my biggest fan and my biggest critic.  He will sometimes say, “ should probably remove the line where you talk about…” and then I either remove it, or not.  Basically, he will tell me if I’ve pushed the envelope too far, which is not uncommon.  This is a good thing, though I’m already pretty certain that my in-laws no longer think I’m the pure, little, delicate flower they once thought I was, although I still am a flower.  (I like to think so anyway.)

The truth is that it’s really difficult to be equal parts reserved and blatantly honest in a world that expects you to be either black or white.  If I’m in reserved mode will I shock someone if I accidentally make an inappropriate joke, if I say something off-color?  Or do I just bite my lip the whole time and listen to what everyone around me is saying, making witty responses in my head?  At a conference last year a fella kept trying to get me to say a swear word as if I’ve never sworn before.  My internal response was, What the H?!  I swear as much as the next gal – you just have to get me in the right mood.  But of course, I relented, even if it felt contrived to say something just because some guy was asking me to.  To say the eff word when someone asks you to just feels dirty.  But I guess that’s okay.  I don’t mind dirty every now and again.

What I’ve learned is that when I’m open, honest Sarah out in the world (that is the Sarah I happen to be most familiar with), I’ve realized that I suddenly become popular, a phenomenon that makes me equal parts uncomfortable and empowered.  (But alas, this going-against-the-grain thing all the time can get tiring, so I've found myself rolling wit it.)

Being yourself, whatever that may be – reserved, open, or in between – is the state where we're most happy and content, and that is important when you’re out there in the world, as much as when you’re eating Chinese food and talking about sex with your bestie.  For me, open, honest Sarah is actually the true Sarah – the Sarah I’ve always known.  Reserved Sarah is what I am when I’m perhaps not feeling entirely comfortable, which translates to a certain amount of inauthenticity for me.  And no one wants to feel inauthentic. 

I feel.  I am curious.  I am passionate.  I like getting to the nitty gritty.  I am both a rule breaker and a nerd, and I happen to like it that way. 

Depending on who you are, maybe you already know this, maybe you don’t.  But either way, you may not even care, and that is totally okay.

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