Yesterday a coworker asked for the link to this blog. She’d read an entry that I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago and wanted to check out the rest of my writing. Of course I was flattered; who wouldn’t be? But I was also nervous.
Because I am two different people and those two people were meeting.
I have a shy, quiet student who once wrote in a journal entry, “I like writing more than speaking. I’m that person who, when someone tells me ‘happy birthday,’ will foolishly respond with ‘you too’ and then spend all day worrying about it. My mouth always messes up my thoughts; I can say what I mean when I write.”
(Why yes, I do work with amazing young adults, and why yes, I did want to jump out of my teacher chair and holler “this!” the moment I read it.)
My mouth messes up my thoughts too, so I usually end up sounding awkward and insecure in conversation. I am too self-aware to be witty and verbally articulate. My filter is either amped up to ten or completely out of commission, which means that I’m never able to say exactly what I mean. (I usually find the perfect words as I’m lying in bed that night, but what good do they do me then?) I have a phobia of long silences, so I fill them with verbal diarrhea – the first (usually irrelevant) thing that comes to mind.
I do my best, of course. I go through the motions, working to project “normalcy” in my day-to-day endeavors and exchanges. At home I play with my kids, cook them supper, give them baths. At work I teach my students, ask them questions, assign them homework. I do what any working mother does – I take care of the people around me. And I enjoy it because it matters.
Here’s what I don’t do. I don’t talk about postpartum anxiety or parenting insecurities with my family and friends. I don’t mention that I’m writing a novel about Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring, or that I’ve attempted to write countless more.
Because it’s weird.
And because even if I tried, my mouth would mess up my thoughts and I’d spend all day worrying that I said “you too” instead of “thank you” to the person who wished me a happy birthday.
That is Person #1.
Person #2 is the one you’re talking to right now. She is the real me, the one who isn’t afraid to say what she means because she knows that the written word won’t fail her like her mouth does. She is honest and vulnerable; she is human. What I love most about her, though, is her courage. Protected by the glow of her computer screen (hey, even the bravest knight deserves a shield), she gives Person #1 permission to let go.
My coworker asked me for the link to this blog and I panicked. Because when I handed her that URL address, I handed her a key to my opinions, ambitions, fears, and dreams. I gave her permission to get to know Person #2.
And what if she doesn’t like her?