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There is something that I’ve been thinking about lately and I want to talk about it today…

I want to be real.

I want those whom I come in contact with, either in person or through digital interaction, to get to know the real me. That is often very scary- if I show my imperfections, will people still like me? Or will they shrink away, deciding that they don’t really want to spend time with me? Here on my blog, I strive to show the real me and my real life, without showing too much of either the fantastic or the miserable (because I don’t want people to think I am portraying my life as perfect, and I also don’t want to use my blog as a public therapy session.) I still feel like I am trying to strike that balance here and other social media and in my real-life interactions. It is hard for me- it seems that I have spent a large amount of my life putting up walls for fear that people won’t like me if they really get to know me. But the older I become, the more exhausting that is.

I am not knocking other blogs, because everyone has the right to present themselves to the world in any way that they choose. But for me, those writers who never share their struggles or rejection are hard to read. I have the very, very bad habit of comparison, holding my accomplishments up against others’ to see how I measure up. When I come upon a writer who writes about how perfect and pixie-dust their life is, they make me feel like there is something wrong with me because I face rejection and struggles and confusion. All. The. Time. I have learned to avoid those blogs, not because there is anything wrong with them, but because I know what my own personal reaction is to that kind of stuff. (It’s not good.) I know that some people enjoy them as a source of inspiration, entertainment, and diversion. That’s great- I think every person should look at how they react to all kinds of input and decide for themselves if it is a help or hindrance to their heart and mind.

Don’t waste one more minute comparing yourself to other people. This journey is yours alone. God needs YOU to fulfill your purpose, not to try to fulfill someone else’s.

(sorry, I couldn’t find the author of this quote. It is not mine, but I wish it were….)

Obviously, I don’t share everything here, or share in too much detail, but I always want my readers to know that I live a real life, just like theirs. The other day I was having lunch with a few quilting friends and I was relaying to them a recent HUGE disappointment in my design career. One of them smiled and said, “I thought you were living the glamorous life of a designer!” And we both had to laugh because it is sooooooo NOT glamorous or charmed. My life is pretty much like yours: some days I get an email carrying wonderful, fabulous, exciting news that makes my day. Some days I get an email or a phone call that ruins my day (week, month……) But most days are in-between. I try to get work done and not get too distracted by Facebook. I call my kids and wish they were here instead of there. I am indecisive about what to make for dinner. I wish I had a cleaner house and a thinner body. Some days I just zone out and watch entirely too much TV. Some days are amazingly productive. There are some days when I get to sit down for lunch or a really long phone call with a friend and it really recharges my batteries and I wonder why I don’t do it more often because it makes me feel so much better. Some days I create something that I think is awesome and I can’t believe that I actually made it. Some days I hate everything that make. I deal with family stuff and relationship stuff and I very often feel overwhelmed and directionless and wonder, Just what am I doing? What do I want to do? What should I do????

These are thoughts that I’ve shared before but I just wanted to talk about them again, because those doubts and insecurities are a pretty large part of who I am, and I suspect that that is true for many of you reading this. The other day I was talking to a designer friend and we were realizing how much we feel the same about a lot of things. We talked about how so much of what we do is about “persona” and “branding.” In this world of social media domination and reality TV, it’s no longer enough to just create great art or product offerings. You have to devote a lot of precious time to becoming a “personality” to get noticed and create a following. If people see me as a “personality,” I want the person that they see to be REAL. I don’t want to be fake or phony. That’s not to say that I intend to spill my emotional guts all over my blog (I’ve seen plenty of bloggers do that, too… awkward…) But I want to be me. I don’t want to try to portray myself as the perfect version of me. I am not perfect. My life is not perfect. I am just me, trying to be better and trying not to beat myself up too much when I fall short of the expectations and standards that I have set up for myself. And most importantly- I don’t want the people who read my blog to feel that they or their lives don’t “measure up” to mine. We’re all in this together, and the last thing I want is to discourage anyone who feels that maybe their careers or families or personal lives aren’t coming along as fast as they would like.

Whenever I write this sort of post, I am terrified to hit the “publish” button. I want to be real, but I also don’t want to be whiny or ungrateful for all of the incredible blessings in my life. For the most part, I really like my life. And the older I get and the more I get to know myself, the more I am able to take control of my thoughts and avoid things that aren’t good for me personally.

…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

What about you? Do you ever struggle with trying to be real? Do you feel pressure to look a certain way, or present yourself a certain way? Do you find that you have to put on a persona to climb the corporate ladder or to keep up with the other soccer moms? Do you feel that you can’t even be your real self in front of your family because you fear that they won’t accept, love, or like you if you do??

Society isn’t going to stop trying to mold us. We have to mold ourselves. I think that means taking a hard look at what’s important to us, and then making a firm decision that we are going to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. In reality, we might have to “play the game” a bit, but we don’t have to internalize it. (And by this I mean, sometimes you have to put on a brave face and look more confident than you feel. Hopefully those feelings of confidence will come along.)

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde

What do you think? Can we just be real for awhile? Can we allow others to feel safe enough to be real with us? And can we forgive the weaknesses in ourselves and in others once we have taken the scary step of being real?

 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Follow your honest convictions, and stay strong.
William Thackeray