There's a lot of noise online. And image management. And curation -- of content, and of lives. As much as I KNOW not to compare my insides to someone else's outsides, and that to compare is to despair, it still happens. And every so often I find myself wanting to present this slightly more polished, more curated, more managed version of myself to the world.
It's hard enough to be real in real life, and it gets even more slippery online -- how can you ever really pin down your authentic self in a Facebook post? Every post seems to have a teeny, tiny ulterior motive, however hidden: This is what I'm choosing to show you. This is what I want you think of me.
There's the type of post that shows an amped up, more fabulous version of someone's life, but there's also the just as curated quirky mess. And neither can completely get to the truth.
I don't want to try to present some I-have-it-all-together version of myself, because 1) I don't, and 2) When I see other people do this it makes me want to throw my phone across the room. But I also know that I have it more together than I often feel like I do. And if I only ever posted what my actual inner dialogue told me was true, that wouldn't be accurate either.
So I'll start here, coming clean about some of the minor tweaks I make to my online image.
I only really like to take selfies when I've recently had my hair colored and my eyebrows done. I wear glasses when I read and write, not all the time. But I've started wearing them in most of my selfies in part because, although I've always looked young for my age, when I turned 38 I started to get wrinkles around my eyes. That might, unfiltered and in a certain light, make me look my age (40). Glasses cover these up. And also, it's not lost on me that my Warbys make me look more Brooklyn-literary.
Speaking of selfies, this is something I've wondered -- what's the average number of selfies people take to get one that's postable? That looks like, Oh, I just got this one of me looking amazing, at my best angle and in optimal lighting, on the first try. Because I've been known to take 10-15 to get one I like. OK, sometimes 20. I don't think I've ever just snapped one selfie and uploaded it right away to Facebook on the first try.
Being real is hard to pin down. As soon as I tell you something about myself, it becomes curated. What I'm choosing to share. How I want you to see me.
What's real and true about me, and everyone, is constantly shifting and changing, and impossible to ever really capture and crystallize. Especially without having any awareness whatsoever about how you're presenting yourself to the world.
I strive to be as authentic as possible in my writing, and to set aside any insecurities that might tempt me to tweak my image in one direction or another. When I sit down to write, I aim to get as close as I can to what is true about me, so that I can connect to what is true in you. Above all, I don't in any way want to add to the online onslaught of carefully curated perfection in our culture that, as I've experienced firsthand, can intensify depression and bring on despair. And, in the best case scenario, make me want to hurl my phone against the wall.
Although this blog is on my shiny new website, I want to be as real in my posts here as I was on my less shiny blogs, like this one and this one. As tempting as it can be to try to present some has-it-all-together, super-polished and professional version of myself, I want to stay true to the real, more together than I feel but sometimes messy and struggling and falling apart ME.
I'm posting the selfie above, even though I haven't gotten my eyebrows waxed since August, and haven't maintained them with any tweezing in about a month. I'm due for a color touch-up, and my gray roots are visible. I'm wearing my Warbys because I was reading in a coffee shop, but also because they hide the wrinkles around my eyes that if you look closely you'll see anyway, and also because they make me look especially Brooklyn-y. I got this one on the third try, but that almost never happens.