The Heavy Weight of Transparency

I find it interesting that as obsessed as our culture is with “reality” television, we’re only comfortable with the realities of another person’s life when parts of it are still scripted.

Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?” but answer it honestly and you’ll find others trying to shame or criticize you for choosing to do so. No one really wants to know what’s really on your mind-they want the watered down, mundane, heavily filtered, “fluff” that resides on your mind’s surface. Reveal anything deeper, and people start hiding you from their news feeds.

Blog about what’s bouncing around & lurking in the corners of your mind, or buried within the folds of your heart and people refuse to read. Peel back a wound to reveal the ugliness underneath, and people look away.

During my Social Works Basics class this past semester, my professor constantly discussed this, saying that people are too afraid of other people’s realities. He would challenge us to reflect on why this is.

What is it about the reality of life and another person’s vulnerability that  makes us so uncomfortable? So uneasy, so fearful, so angry even?

Good questions. To which I only have theories for answers, but nothing definitive.

I have a heavy heart this morning because I had an encounter that left me feeling the weight of my decision to be as real as I can with people. It was so uncomfortable and the reason for their coolness toward me so obvious, I felt my face burning hot with shame at the realization.

It hurt.

It’s never easy being rejected or losing a friendship because of what you believe or how you choose to live your life. It’s painful…I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve gone through it the past 3 years, but its frequency doesn’t lessen the blow when it happens.

Writing this blog and being as open as I am on Facebook has cost me a lot. About 50% of the distance that lies between some people (and family) who know me “in real life” and myself I’ve created on purpose and for good reasons. In order to focus on growth and healing, creating distance was necessary. Not easy, but a must. (It’s amazing how much therapy has helped me recognize and understand this)

The other 50%, however comes from people distancing themselves from me because they don’t like what I’ve dared to share and talk about here…and even on Facebook. I’ve gotten complaint after complaint. Angry messages, chastising emails, and have had people refuse to talk to me because they either don’t like something I’ve revealed about myself, my past, an opinion I’ve had, or just don’t like that I choose, above all else to be transparent, to be real. I’ve been talked about, ridiculed,and people have walked away. Some departures haven’t bothered me…others have. Exhibit A: Today’s encounter.

The result is that I’m now fairly filtered on Facebook. And most of my “friends” have gone from people who know me “in real life” to people I’ve met on Twitter who don’t mind when I have verbal diarrhea, bare my soul, or rant about an irritation. Or at least if they do, they don’t tell me about it.

That’s the strange thing I’ve noticed since I started blogging and joined Twitter. Complete strangers can value, respect, and appreciate your vulnerability. They’ll even commend you for your bravery even if they don’t agree or can’t identify with what you’ve shared. They validate your effort. They encourage you. But those who “know” the “real” you? Friends, family, church members? They give you the most grief, their silence, a deaf ear to talk to, and a chipped shoulder to lean on.

The only person in my everyday life who hasn’t done this is Bertski-and guess what? He hates how open I can be. It makes him uncomfortable. But he pushes past his comfort zone and supports my decision to practice transparency, which I love him for.

But while I’ve become more filtered on Facebook, I haven’t here and I absolutely refuse to.  I feel like this is the one place I have to share anything I want, and I intend to keep it that way. As difficult as it is to maintain that stance, I’m always reminded of why it’s important that I do. It helps me, but more than that, every now and then, I find out what I share here, good or bad, helps someone.  A message pops up on my Facebook, an email finds its way to my inbox, and it’s always from someone sharing something with me they haven’t told anyone-simply because I dared (in spite of my fears) to put it all out there.

Practicing transparency and choosing to live authentically is far from easy, and comes with a price.  But it’s one I’ll always be willing to pay, even when it hurts. Why? Because the rewards of helping another person outweighs the cost. It might not for other people, but it does for me.

I just wish the weight of it didn’t feel so heavy sometimes.

Maybe I’m doing something wrong?


12 thoughts on “The Heavy Weight of Transparency

  1. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong. I admire your transparency, and it just makes me want to know you IRL, because I feel like I already do! So much of what you wrote here resonates with me – I understand how it can be that those who are closest to us are the ones who don’t seem to get it, or don’t applaud us putting ourselves out there. I know I can’t make it better, but I would say: you are more loved and more supported than you know. Keep putting yourself out there. People like me need you to.

  2. you are NOT doing anything wrong. this is YOUR space to talk about whatever you see fit to, and if someone stops reading because of something you’ve said, they weren’t worth having around anyway.
    it’s a funny question, “how are you?” because most people aren’t really interested in the answer, are they? they just want you to say “good” and move on.
    you are doing a great job at being you, i love your blog and even if you have a different opinion on something than i do i’m not going to stop reading, because EVERYONE is entitled to their own opinion on things, even if they are different than mine.
    stay strong.

    • Thank you so much. You are absolutely right, especially about people not really wanting to know the answer to questions like “how are you?” I realize sometimes it’s just a polite formality and you don’t always have the time to give or listen to lengthy answers…but what’s wrong with just saying, “I’m having a rough day,” or “Things suck, but I know they’ll be ok,?” Not too many people I know do that…

  3. I admire you. I’ll tell you a secret: Sometimes when I’m drafting a challenging post, I think about whether you would hit “Publish” and that helps me do it. I’m not as transparent as I’d like to be, but getting there. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the way you blog and consider you one of my bloggy role models.

    • Jaime I admire YOU. I’ve always been an avid fan of your writing style and how it just flows (and is perfectly edited!), so you’re one of my blogging role models as well 🙂 I’m very touched that my writing helps you push the “publish” button when you’re scared to. The fact that you would even say that means so much. Thank you. I know transparency is frightening and not easy…take your time getting there-continue to go at a pace that is comfortable for you-that’s important. It’s a process.

  4. Just remember, in all things keep your eye on the prize, stay focus, never give up and never give in. God will take you places you never dreamed you could go. Be strong, be positive and always encourage someone in the Lord. You never know just how a person life will be changed with just a few encouraging words from a total stranger. Peace and blessing be yours to enjoy this day.

  5. I agree with the others, you are not doing anything wrong. You are strong and a blessing. Your transparency about discipline/spanking is a big portion of why I made the positive change in my parenting to not spank. I feel so free having decided that. I may not have done it without you.

    • Omgoodness Charity I had no idea that post impacted you in that way. I’m very glad to hear that you feel freed in the decision that you made, I know I felt free when I did. I think that’s what happens when we take a moment to listen to our instincts and do what their telling us is best for ourselves and our children.

      As hard as it was to publish that post, your comment alone makes me very happy that I did. You are indeed a blessing to my life as well. Thank you

  6. You know I love you and my position on being vulnerable. What’s the point of connecting with people if we’re not going to be who we truly are with them? It is so frustrating to put yourself out there and then be criticized for doing so. But I would venture a guess that those people who have complained and chided you? Aren’t the kind of people who are going to lift you up and help you be who YOU want to be.

    I, for one, am thankful that I have you to push me to my transparency limit. We push each other, I think, and that makes it even better.

    • You know Susan, I never thought of it that way-that the people who complain are the ones who aren’t trying to help me be well…ME. You’re right-nearly all of these people have been trying to get me to be who they think I should be. Very good point.

      You are definitely right-we do push each other and I love that and I also think it helps give us some accountability. I appreciate your honesty and love your bravery-your words and stories always resonate and inspire me. Thank you 🙂

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