It is amazing to see how something can go from looking like the best idea ever to looking like a dire mistake in the short span of 24 hours.
After publishing the first of my old blog posts last night, I spent about three to four hours going through the entries that followed it. When I exported my posts they were spat out in XML, which rendered them poorly formatted for copy and pasting purposes (you know, the easy way of doing things).
Naturally, I couldn’t leave it looking like that, so I had to get to work editing out the nonsensical characters and organizing everything by date. I also needed to remove any blatantly personal information, typos, grammatical errors, unintentional redundancy, certain individual’s names, and excessive expletives (I was quite fond of sailor’s speech back in the day).
Sure, the work ahead will be positively tedious (I’ve only gone through 2.5 posts so far), but I strangely enjoy searching for errors. What I haven’t enjoyed as much is reading the things I had to say about myself. This is why I now wonder if I’ve made a mistake in thinking that I should share these old writings. I am afraid.
Straight away, I came face to face with painful memories I had long forgotten the unsettling details of. Stinging excerpts would pop up in the middle of ramblings that seemed so benign and carefree on the surface. I was surprised by my frankness, my uninhibited analysis of things. At what point had I lost my ability to speak so freely? When had I decided that my scars were best kept to myself and myself alone?
People throughout my life have often said that I am one of the most self-aware individuals they know, which never shocked me in the past. Indeed, I have always been keenly in-tune with my inner workings, motives and emotions. In turn, I’ve been able to articulate them (via both verbal and written means) with relative ease since a very young age.
All the same, it was hard to believe I’d once found the inner strength to type the brutally honest evaluations of my life that I was seeing on my screen. Reading over things instantly brought me back to the difficult places I once inhabited—dark, frightening places from which I only narrowly escaped.
On one hand, I deeply appreciated having such a raw and gritty account of the life I would have otherwise forgotten. Yet on the other hand, the things that made my writing beautiful, also made it far from palatable: it was too raw and too gritty. My ego and sense of progress were sufficiently battered by the time I’d reached the third post.
Now I am questioning many, many things.
Am I doing the right thing?
Will this be helpful to someone, or am I only potentially damaging whatever positive reputation I have?
Am I prepared to account for past ignorant actions and beliefs? Poor decisions?
Will people mistakenly assume that the person I was is the person I am?
Might this negatively impact the opinions of future employers, potential business partners, potential friends and/or potential romantic interests?
Can I essentially expose my darkest moments in life without feeling the incessant need to explain why I did/said/thought/felt as I once did?
Will recalling the past in such gross detail undo all of the healing and progress I’ve made over the years?
Can I show the former me the same compassion and understanding I show the woman I am today, or do I still not feel as though “she” deserves it?
The world can be a very judgmental and retaliatory place. I should know; I used to serve as judge and jury with the worst of ‘em. Although I know who I was, who I am and why, society doesn’t always care to hear about causation. Some people will use anything against you to deny you a job, an opportunity, or a fair chance. I’ve seen what has happened to people who were honest about themselves and their struggles…it isn’t always a good idea to be open about your past shortcomings—however resolved they may be.
Still, I realize that I can’t control all of these unknown factors. You could be the most genuine and kind-hearted person on the entire planet. If someone catches a notion to hate you for it, they’ll do it without pause—simply because they can.
But in the end, all I can do is be myself.
Unfortunately, the snippets of my past that make me feel embarrassed, sad or ashamed are, and always will be, apart of myself. As much as we may age, evolve and mature, everything we’ve ever said, thought, felt or done will forever be embroidered into the fabric of who we are. We can choose to show those aspects of ourselves or elect to tuck them away, but the evidence of our past experiences will always remain.
The best that we can ever do in life is be our authentic selves in every given moment. Hopefully, if we are exuding goodness in the present moment, that is the predominant opinion the majority of people will hold of us. Notice that I didn’t say “all people” or “everyone”. We can’t please all people all of the time; to even attempt to achieve this would be lunacy.
However, I’d like to believe that despite today’s fallen world, the majority of people on this planet can still acknowledge the fallibility of human nature. We all make mistakes and all have done things we may not be proud of. This universal truth is something that helps to make us more similar than not, so it is my hope that people do their best to see themselves in the mistakes of others instead of jumping to judge someone.
Similarly, I genuinely pray that as my past is gradually revealed to you, my sincerity and true nature—as it stands today—outshines anything you may read. Believe me, for every wicked and indifferent seed I’ve sown, I’ve managed to reap more trouble than I will ever have the time or energy to catch you up on.
As far as I’m concerned, my debts have been paid in full. If anyone tries to make me feel unduly ashamed about the person I was, or if any good thing is held from me as a consequence of wanting to help others by sharing my story, so be it. I have no other choice but to accept myself and my past because I now know the greatness of my future.
I know exactly who I am, just as I know exactly what I am not, so this issue is no longer up for debate among the masses.
Can you say the same?
I sincerely hope so, but if not, I shall do my best to help show how self-love and self-acceptance can be achieved. We can navigate these turbulent waters together. I have faith that we can all make it to the other side. 🙂