Everywhere I look there are people confessing that their lives aren't perfect. They are responding to calls for more 'authenticity' and 'transparency' because folks want to them to admit they have weaknesses and experience failure like everyone else. Bloggers write their confessions so readers will connect with them and see them as a real, whole person who is being honest and showing vulnerability.
I consider these issues carefully for myself and my own writing, and I keep asking myself these questions:
How and why are we defining someone as a fake?
How often and in what way should we share our mistakes, struggles, and sorrows publicly?
How much does honesty require us to reveal about our private lives?
So here I am, a happy, albeit mildly sarcastic, homeschool mom blogger. I don't often write about my personal life, past failures, and inner struggles because they don't seem relevant to me when I'm sitting here at my keyboard creating content to encourage homeschoolers. Part of that is because some stories don't belong to me, and I value the privacy and confidentiality of my relationship with family and friends. I'm a forward thinking person, so I don't see the world through the lens of my past, and I don't focus on my failures and weaknesses. My writing really does reflect the way I view the world.
However, I'm seeing that people may assume if you are always positive and upbeat, you aren't being authentic and sharing who you really are. And I understand why too much happy can come across as phony-baloney-plastic-banana-good-time-rock-and-roll.
So, in the interest of following this trend of true confessions, I'm going to share some personal things about myself that affect my writing, and explain why I am a happy homeschooler.
Let me start with something most people know about me. I'm an introvert. I'm an introvert who knows how to be an extrovert because my husband never met anyone he didn't know, and I've learned, after 30 years, how to imitate his vibrant, outgoing personality. I view it as a personal challenge when I am out and about to remember to make eye contact, smile, and say something kind or funny to make at least one person smile.
But I don't feel entirely comfortable in social situations. To spend long periods of time chatting face-to-face, even with friends, always has the potential to wear me out. It doesn't matter how much I love them and want to spend time with them, my natural state is alone. Don't get me wrong here - I'm nearly giddy with excitement at the opportunity to have face time with people I care about, and who care about me. I know we will laugh hysterically and I will be extremely reluctant to leave their company.
Then I will come home with a blinding headache and the need to be by myself in a quiet space for several hours. I have to decompress.
Thus, my preferred method of communication is definitely writing. I can take my time in a relaxed, quiet environment and say what I want to say the way I want to say it.
I'm also an optimist. As in down-to-the-bone Suzy Sunshine optimist. I see no point whatsoever in dwelling on the negative, feeling sorry for myself, or wasting time crying. When I feel annoyance or outrage, I redirect and defuse my anger with humor. When I'm sad, I find the silver lining. If I cry for more than three minutes once or twice a year, that's a big deal. I'd rather be happy, so I choose to be happy. When life hands me lemons, I say "Thank you very much", cut it in half, salt it, and eat it.
Who needs Warheads?
I like solving problems. I want to know how things work, why they fail, how to make them better. I've never been overly worried about making mistakes, because I'm insatiably curious and I've always jumped in with both feet to try new things. As a result, I've failed multiple times, and found out I can survive falling flat on my face. Or nearly drowning in the New River Gorge. Or having my heart broken. Or being betrayed and even hated. Or losing a person I love to disease and death.
I'm also very good at apologizing.
What's more, with each trial, each failure, each painful experience, I learn something about myself, about God, about the world around me, about the people in my life. The optimistic problem-solver in me takes that information and applies it in ways I feel will benefit me, my family, and my friends. Because - what else am I supposed to do?
I'm sure at this point I need to clarify a few things. Yes, I sometimes want to throw a pity party, I rage against being backed into a corner by people or situations, I regret some decisions I've made in the past. Then my Susan-Brain kicks me in the what-for and I get a grip. This process takes about 45 seconds because I bore quickly.
I believe my life is the sum total of the decisions I have made. Therefore, I own them. Circumstances didn't happen to me while I lay passively on the tracks getting run over by life's freight train. I made choices - some thoroughly considered, some impulsive and stupid, some the best I could do with the information available to me at the time. But they are all mine, and I feel compelled to embrace them. Even when accidents happen, how I respond is still under my control.
So in the end, it's all good.
I understand this point of view makes some people uncomfortable. They think I'm cold, or delusional, or just way too happy. But in a confluence of heredity and parenting and experiences, this is who I am right now.
Should I also tell you that my hair is mostly gray, so now I'm coloring it blond instead of brown because the roots blend in more and I can wait a bit longer between colorings. I cut my own hair because I'm too cheap to get it done by a professional. I don't like choosing clothes, so I wear the same skirts and shirts a lot. I really do eat salted lemons, and I think Bob Evans sausage gravy should be a food group.
Whenever I hear criticism about facing life with unrelenting optimism, I wonder, "Who gets to decide how I should feel, how I should react?" The answer is "Me." End of discussion.
I'm very concerned about our society reaching a saturation point where too many people are being 'honestly' outrageous and 'authentically' crass and 'transparently' cruel. When despair and hopelessness are fashionable. When instead of taking time to ponder someone else's point of view, we rush to criticize, malign, and destroy. Because hey - that's just how we roll.
Negative emotions and dwelling on failure is exhausting, time consuming, and fruitless. I'm familiar enough with foolish blunders and disappointment to believe I should remove bitterness, despair, and defeatism out of my life by any means necessary.
Here's the kicker – this means I break away from people who won't invest in nurturing healthy relationships. I avoid habitual gossips, liars, and manipulators. Peer pressure and emotional blackmail do not work on me because I walk away.
Instead, I surround myself with trustworthy, courageous, compassionate people. They inspire me to be a better person, they support me in my efforts, they forgive me when I screw up. We understand the hard work of maintaining strong relationships and we are willing to do it together.
In conclusion, I firmly believe you can make the life you want to have. And I don't mean wealth, beauty, or fame. I mean contentment in whatever state you are in, the fortitude to change what needs changing, and the perseverance to keep moving forward toward your goals.
Knowing it, believing it, and embracing it makes me a happy homeschooler, and that's what I want to write about.