When I push “publish” on the bottom of the blog screen, I know that my words will launch into the interwebs, accessible to pretty much anyone. With that thought in mind, I tend to keep my writings ambiguous. My façade currently exists as a blue background with Georgia font. It isn’t that I am not being genuine; I just don’t want to be completely open, either.
The other day I received a text message from a friend of mine, asking “who are we again?” He is my support partner, a fellow recent-graduate who shared many of the same feelings pre- and post- graduation. He was the first person I talked to in my post-graduate school “funk” who actually expressed honesty in his feeling of the same way. “I know, it’s weird, right?” we said to one another. We agreed to champion each other on, finding solidarity in our seemingly the-odd-one-out feelings. Asking ourselves “who are we?” is our way to cheer each other on.
After my original conversation with that friend, I conversed or caught glimpses of other friends my age and I began to realize I am not the only one who is in a sort-of-life-funk. But I never wanted to be entirely honest with any frustrations or “downs” that I might be experiencing for fear that people might worry about me. Nor did I want to seem ungrateful for the opportunities I have been given. And I don’t like appearing any less than perfect (I know, I know- it is a pride thing and I am working on it).
Here’s the thing: I think my façade has hindered more than helped. I have a dear friend, a fellow graduate of my program, who is currently working as a server, sleeping on a couch, applying for jobs in her field. Talented, funny, capable, and willing, but jobs are limited in our field. She admitted at this point in her life, she’d be happy with any job that provided her with a steady schedule (as her server’s schedule jumps week to week, day to day). I have another friend who received her degree and teaching certificate, ready and excited to teach elementary-level children. A combination of “The Economy” and the plight education systems are under, she can’t get a job in her field. She lives at home, working as a customer service representative at a call center. At least she has benefits. Another good friend of mine recently lost his job. Smart, capable, motivated, and ready to make his positive contribution to the world, yet, nobody will hire him. These are just a sampling of people I know and care about. Give us a chance! Let us shine!
When I post my very positive statuses (stati?) on the Facebook or I tweet an inspirational quote, I am being honest but I am not always being transparent. I don’t want people to know I am going through a tough spot! What will the Bridge Club think!? I have a job that I like doing, right? Right. I found that job early in my life, right? Right. I am making a difference in my own way, right? Right. I no longer have massive stress in the form of a thesis or graduation, right? Right. I have a roof over my head and food in my mouth and live in an amazing country, right? Right. Why reveal anything about my life that feels less than perfect, right? Hmm.
Sometimes my frustrations are rooted in how what my life looks like now and how that is not really how I ever pictured it. Single, working the equivalent of “entry-level” in my field, in debt (but hey! I have two very expensive pieces of paper to show for it), and sometimes wondering if after everything I have been through, is this really where I am meant to be right now? Sometimes, my frustrations come from the fact that I have very few people I consider “close” and even those close individuals I keep at a slight distance; who am I supposed to share my day-to-day struggles or triumphs with and not sound like a whiner? Sometimes, my frustrations rest in the fact that I found a particularly edifying job that doesn’t pay so well and I am not at liberty to buy pretty things whenever I want (and won’t be for a long time). The worst kind of frustration that happens is derived from the ease that I can compare my life to others; I literally know five people who are engaged to be married and eight more ladies who are pregnant. Eight. I am not making that up (and am never going to be able to keep up with my crochet plans at that rate of reproduction!!). And I don’t even know how many people I know who have already found their soulmate/best friend/love of their life who just don’t have kids, yet. All I have to do is scroll through any of the social media sites that I am a member of and I can show you all sorts of people who have their lives on track. Or, at least, appear to have their lives on track. Maybe they struggle with the very same things, but like myself do not want to appear less than perfect.
So it is with my transparency that I hope to reveal weakness as a way of growing stronger. And I don’t just mean for me to grow stronger. When I cheer on my friends, I do it from the bottom of my heart and I know they do the very same for me. I am not complaining, I am not whining, and I know it can always be worse. But I am human! Therefore, I have struggles. We have struggles. But if we keep our struggles to ourselves, how can anybody help us? How are we going to be able to support one another if we continue with our facades?
And while I dedicate this song (okay, fine, this post… but “song” sounded better) to my friend, the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, I write it with the intention of others finding out that they are not alone. That there ain’ nothin’ wrong with going through a tough spot and questioning “why” and “who are we?” That we have good days and bad days and so-so days and days that are all that and a Moon Pie; all of those days combined is what they call “living.” And that though maybe having ambitions and desiring more in life is what what causes us to get tangled up and trip when we are trying to figure out who we are, it is that same desire and ambition that keeps us pushing ahead.
“Sure I am of this, that you only have to endure to conquer.” -Winston Churchill