Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be Honest Online?

A comment I get a lot here is, "I admire your honesty," and while I appreciate those comments, it is often on posts where I don't feel like I've made a brave choice. I've literally just shared an experience or a belief of mine. So this makes me wonder, is the bar for honesty, especially in the age of carefully curated online lives, really so low?

I know that we all get caught in a comparison trap, but I also don't know anyone who thinks that the representation of themselves people put online is accurate. Everyone is cherrypicking the best moments because no one wants to have an online space that makes people feel bad. Posts like "I'm not perfect!" or "I have a messy kitchen, I'm just like you!" never feel like a revelation to me. I know you're not perfect; I know that your house isn't Pinterest worthy every second of every day. What I'm interested in is your actual opinion on things.

I want to hear your thoughts. I can't believe we've created a climate online where it can feel terrifying to share how you truly feel about something. 

I know that there are privacy concerns with sharing these details on the internet, and everyone has a different level of what they feel comfortable sharing with strangers. I also know that a lot of the time we aren't protecting our privacy when we don't share our true thoughts; we're just scared of being judged.

Most of the hesitation I feel when posting here is not caused by thoughts of what strangers will think but what my family will. You probably get that too, right? This is what I try to remind myself: I am not the official mascot for my family. I can love them and still believe entirely different things and want to live an entirely different life than what they may want for me.

Beliefs change with generations. THIS IS A GREAT THING. It's why being a homosexual isn't illegal in most parts of the world anymore. It's why scientists are no longer killed for proposing a theory that doesn't support religion. It is very important for everyone to share their opinions and experiences, especially when they're scared of the response, because this is how we change the conversation and change the world. It's also how we learn that we're not entirely alone.

Maybe it's possible that you're wrong about something, and you're scared of finding that out. Don't be. If you're a good person, you will learn, and if you are not, everyone will know to avoid you. I want to know the places that I still need to learn in, and I share here every week in the hopes that some kind soul will point out where I'm going wrong. 

"I'm just being honest!" is the motto of assholes everywhere. We do not want to be those people. But we do want to be people who have opinions, who believe in the value of their perspective, and who are open to thoughtful discussions.

I respect everyone's right to write about whatever they please (that's the fun part about creating your own online home!) but I also don't think you can write a lifestyle blog without writing about your actual life. No one's life is devoid of opinions or beliefs or even, maybe, an unpopular stance on something! I know we don't want to alienate anyone, but we've got to start learning how to have online conversations where we don't all agree with each other. We can respect people who have completely opposite views; we can make room for them at the table. In other words, don't underestimate the importance of harmonious disagreement

What's important to remember is that we are not walking advertisements -- not for brands or a particular lifestyle. We get to be many complex and contradictory things. Hopefully, we'll find people who encourage our growth instead of demanding that we stay in whatever box is most comfortable for them.

Do you think you're honest online? How honest is too honest? 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Drama of Love

I love the drama of two people in love. 

I know that the love that lasts is not a Nicholas Sparks movie. I know that true romance is often not the emotional porn we're sold in books and movies and perfume ads. 

But I also know that underneath the everyday domesticity of relationships, there are two people inches away from their most dramatic selves. 

We would buy the ticket for the possibility of them. We would quit the job, move to the other side of the world, give everything up for the hope of them. We would stand outside houses in the middle of the night, throwing pebbles at their window, possessed with the urgency of our feelings. We would buy roses, jewelry, trips, anything -- anything -- to try and symbolize the beauty of our love. 

We know that there are billions of people in the world and that there's probably more than one right person for us, but it doesn't stop us from feeling that it is this one, our one, that has the gravitational pull of the sun. 

It is a drama that is so alien when compared to the rest of our lives, but it's also the truest reflection of our humanity. We are vulnerable and sensitive and desperate, and every day we pretend that this love doesn't have the power to wreck us. 

We snap, complain about dirty laundry, forget to kiss each other goodnight; we spend our little moments sure that our love is built on a certainty that can survive the days when we are not thankful for it. We act as if this love is not a magic that transcends the ordinariness of our days. 

But underneath that pretense is this truth: we would gladly play the lead role in a silly romance, do the grand gesture, risk embarrassment, be our wildest, most primal selves for them. Always for them. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Collection of Good Reads

This week's links are a little blogger orientated because that's what I found myself reading this week!

Except for this first one:

Kristen writes a truly gorgeous blog, Happy Sleepy Folks, and she just released a book of short stories. If you love honest, poetic writing, you will love Something Like the Desert

"We are built of stories. They grow in spiny-soft thickets around our bones, reach vines through our veins, leak from the corners of our eyes, from our fingertips, from our mouths. And because they are so deeply scarred and stained into our skin, we cannot shake them. We are built of them. All of them. Even the little ones. In the end, we are no more, no less than walking, breathing, humming novels, patched with paper, animated with ink. We are a thousand and one ruffled pages."

When it comes to art, there's this idea that making any money from it is a form of selling out. 

Holly at Decor8 has a great post on making money from blogging without guilt

Paul and Jason discuss selling out in their podcast Invisible Hours, and they make a great point about how getting paid to do something you're passionate about is not selling out. Sometimes working a more traditional job is selling out because you're trading your time doing something that you hate or that conflicts with your values for money. 

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are discouraged by the blog world getting shinier and shinier and you're not sure of your place, Caiti has a great post on How to Fall in Love with Blogging Again 

Cat at Oddly Lovely wrote about Why Bloggers Should Share Controversial Posts (and I agree with every word) which reminded me of Cassie's post Have a Damn Opinion

P.S I wrote a manifesto this week. Let me know what you think! 

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